Who is?

As Jeff Probst begins his soliloquy to start another season of Survivor tears were streaming down my face.  My youngest daughter and my wife were upstairs already, as they have done for years on Survivor night, they get to have a sleepover.  Something is different about this time though.  I’ve got my popcorn and my favorite blanket, and I am settled in on my spot on the couch, but something is missing. 

The last couple seasons have been just alright.  Covid made the show rushed a bit and they tried to do a little too much.  They added to many new wrinkles.  So, this season I wasn’t expecting much.  I had even thought maybe I wouldn’t watch.  See, I’m missing the reason I watch the show in the first place.  I’m missing my watching partner.  My first born is off killing it in college now and on those off nights or off seasons it just meant we would spend a little more time talking about life, her life, my life, the future, the past.  Everything and nothing all at once.  But now, without my popcorn buddy a bad episode would just be a bad hour of tv.  Now bad Survivor is just bad Survivor.  It’s not my chance to hear about dance team drama or whatever big or small thing is happening in her life.  

I gave her a million outs at school. Told her Survivor can wait, we could watch when she came home for a weekend or something, but she wouldn’t have it. I told her it was a dumb tv show, means nothing without her around.  I wanted her not to feel bad when she stopped watching.  I wanted her to know I didn’t need the show.  She’s read enough of my blogs and has heard me tell her what Survivor really was to me.  She knows that sure, I like the show, but it was never ever about what was happening on the screen.  But she said, “It was Survivor Night” and she wanted us to just watch at the same time and text about it while we watch.  So, we did just that.  We watched, texted, and I cried, like I am known to do on occasion.  I missed my buddy a lot.  

It’s been a few weeks and we have both watched the show on our own, and on our own schedules.  We text about what’s happening, who we like, who we hate, and who has a “winner’s story”.  And, you know what, I love it.  It isn’t the same of course.  She’s off doing her thing, figuring herself out, partying, studying, dancing, and finding out who she is, and who she wants to be.  And I’m here for all of it.  Our moments might be fewer, conversations a bit shorter, but they have so much more meaning.  I’m not talking to that 12-year-old little blond girl unsure of the world around her.  Sure, she’s still unsure I bet, but she’s no longer afraid to find out for herself.  

My youngest daughter and I watch Jeopardy as many nights as we can together.  It’s the best 30 minutes of my day every time we do it.  Nothing happens, outside of her realizing her dadhasn’t read many books and has no clue how to find anything on a map.  I get to see her, that girl, unsure of herself, changing to this powerful, confident little human as she beats her dad to an answer.  I don’t know much, I don’t have a clue what I am doing almost all the time as a dad, but I know this is right.  I know this is my way into her heart.  She’ll look to her mom for all the big things, just as her sister did and does.  And she should.  Mom’s the one with the answers.  Mom doesn’t need Jeopardy or Survivor to show she is here for them.  But dad does, or at least this dad does.  I don’t have a football to toss outside with my girls, or a soccer ball to kick back and forth.  They were never those type of kids.

I can’t do an 8 count in a hip hop dance number, and I have no clue how the hell my daughter can hold someone above her head in a cheer competition.  But I buy the cheer dad sweatshirt and my suggested videos on YouTube is filled with crazy dance numbers because I love to be invested in what they are invested in.  I used to do it just so I didn’t sound like a dumb Dad who didn’t care.  I’ve seen and heard too many dads complain about being at a competition or dance recital.  Honestly, fuck those dads.  They give the good ones a bad name.  

So, while I am genuinely sad about missing my Survivor buddy, I’m proud of her, of us.  I’m happy what it has done for me as a dad.  I’m happy I have Jeopardy with my youngest.  She incredibly smart and very soon she will be beating me pretty handily in the show, but what she doesn’t know is that I am already winning.

In the immortal words of Alex Trebek “Who is the luckiest man in every room?”….

Categories: Uncategorized

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