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Alice in Wonderland Print


The youngest of four boys, you can imagine my initial reaction when I first found out I was having a little girl. Oddly enough, my wife and I both had the same reaction, and she is a girl (one of five actually). And, its not that we have anything against girls, its more like we just never saw ourselves raising one. But, the big day comes and you hold your child in your arms and any preference you had, any preclusions, or prognostications, go right out the window, and you resolve yourself to the fact that you're the proud parent of a baby daughter- as scary as that is. And for the first two years, everything goes fine; you take the good with the bad: Pink suddenly becomes your favorite color, hair clips become the norm, and the guy who can't dress himself suddenly becomes a fashion genius when it comes to designing baby couture. But then the second birthday hits, and it's a whole new ball game. And as you sit there helping your daughter to open her presents - the kind of gifts all little girls would just love to have- it finally hits you: I have a DAUGHTER. Gulp!

No. It's not the realization that one day pre-pubescent boys will be knocking on your door or the fact that some day you'll have to awkwardly congratulate your daughter on having her first period ("Woo Hoo... you're a..woman! Why now God? Why????)- it's a more immediate concern. It's like you open one Barbie after another, and finally clue in: "She doesn't have any siblings? Whose she going to play Barbie with?" And it finally clicks: "Damn!"

No matter what you hear, no matter what the books say, no matter how hard you try to fight thousands of years of social norms, gender differences (what makes a boy a boy and a girl a girl) are pretty much hard wired from birth, and there is no getting around the powerful pull of nature (over nurture that is). So, if you thought you could just dress your daughter up like a boy and size her up for hockey equipment without some doll play first, sorry pal, not gonna happen. This is the part of first-time fatherhood where grown men cry, and fight fervently, kicking and screaming, as reality drags them toward their worst fear- no, not puberty, but these FIVE simple questions. Questions all men- fathers, uncles, and grandfathers alike- are powerless against:

1) "Will Daddy Play Dolly?"

"Will Daddy play dolly? Of course he will! Just let Daddy get lobotomized first so he doesn't want to jab one of Ken's severed arms into his eyes. What are we playing today? Barbie and Ken get married! Wow. Why don't they just live together, so we can skip the ceremony and go out for ice cream instead? No? Well, Daddy had to give it a shot. Where's the wedding dress...? Daddy would much rather dress Barbie than Ken. No Daddy said "Barbie"... Fine. I'll dress the bridesmaids. Where's Skipper at? Always the bridesmaid, hunh...?"

2) "Daddy Do Dress up!"

"Daddy do dress up?!?! No, sweetie. Daddy already plays dress up- it's called going to work and wearing a suit and tie. I know, society doesn't buy it either... (the tears well up) But, you want me to play dress up with you? Sigh. Sure, sweetie, what do you want Daddy to wear? A feather boa?! And Mommy's new pumps?!- great, just like that time Grandma thought it would be fun to send me out as "Tootsie" for Halloween. Oh, will you look at that, you got me french tip press on nails... for both my hands AND feet... and glitter. Oh, Daddy loves glitter... especially when he can't get all of it off in the morning before he goes to work. Daddy loves dress up!"

3) "Tea with Me?"

"Tea time with you, who could say no?! Wait, is that stuffed Bear coming this time? You know he and I don't get along. And that plush rooster's kinda a know it all... And your friend, the Doll, well, I didn't want to tell you, but we were dating behind your back for a couple of weeks and it didn't work out, so sitting across from her will just be awkward. And well, she said some things behind your back that I can't get into now, but need less to say she's kinda jealous of you... (whispering) I think it's the fact that your hair isn't drawn on. So anyway, I don't think I can come. It will just be uncomfortable. But call me. We can do lattes... (daughter cries)... or I can just sit down? Mmm. The plastic scones look particularly appetizing today."

4) "Dance Recital?"

"Dance Recital? Dance Recital? Wouldn't miss it for the world? Five hours of waiting around for you to perform for three minutes... Oh joy! Wait, aren't you performing to my favorite Justin Beiber song? Well, I'm sold! What's better than an afternoon of watching other people's kids dance?! It's not like your mother doesn't force me to watch enough of that on TV. Sure I'm okay to miss my company's golf tournament for that- I was only gonna get to meet some celebrities and some hot Coors Light promo girls. No biggie. I can't wait to see you perform... no, not now! Can't we just...? (crying)... Now's as good a time as any. Tap til your heart's content. (Whispers) Kill me."


5) "Please... Princess?!?"

"Princess? You don't need to dress up for that, you're my princess. Why don't we just sit on the couch and watch football? No? How 'bout we watch some soccer? Still no? Okay. What does "Princess" entail... okay... sure... okay... So you want me to put on Mommy's pantyhose and a beret so I can dress up as a Prince that saves you from the wicked witch's castle? How big is this castle, cause it may take me a while to get there? (looks at the time left in the game)...sometime in the next 45 minutes? I promise to catch up to you though... No? (turns off the TV). Okay, but let's see if Mommy has any pantyhose left over from her maternity? Daddy's not what you would call: " Lithe."

....And so begins the epic battle of daddy vs. daughter- the most unfair battle of them all, if you ask me. You are defenseless against her charms, and she knows it. Just wait until she can string longer sentences together - then you're screwed. For now, what's a few hours of make believe if it makes your baby girl the happiest girl in the world? It's not like you never pretend...every time you lie to someone about your golf handicap.

Here's some links on Daddy and Daughter playtime... and some more recital video too!


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