I know we’re all running around this time of year trying to get everything checked off our to-do lists, but I wanted to post Peter and Elizabeth’s story today as a reminder to Dads about how important and simple the Dad-connection is to daughters.
Peter and Elizabeth loved athletics and the outdoors. When Elizabeth was in the fourth grade, she began running track. When Peter got home from work, he’d take his daughter for a walk in the woods or a jog at the high school track. The more Elizabeth excelled at track, the prouder her father became.
One meet was at a track up on a hill overlooking a four-lane highway My daughter was competing in the meet as well. At one point, I looked down to the highway and about half a mile away, I spotted a large gray-haired bicyclist. I finally figured out it was Peter.
He was helmetless and dressed as if he’d come from work, in a white collared shirt with the sleeves rolled up, a tie flapping around his neck, and the legs of his dress slacks pinched into his black socks. Sweat soaked his shirt as he pedaled up the steep hill.
He finally made it to the track, parked his bike, and without combing his tousled hair or even freeing his trousers from his socks headed over to the track.
Elizabeth wasn’t running. She was sitting cross-legged on a grassy sideline watching her classmates compete. When she spotted him, she stood up and trotted toward him. He lengthened his stride and quickened his speed. Then he lowered his six-foot-four frame, grabbed her around the waist, and threw her into the air. She squealed as she flew like a rag doll above his head. He caught her, swung her around, and squeezed her. Then she ran back to the track. Her event was up next.
Without any words, Peter connected with Elizabeth. He deepened their relationship. The running didn’t make their relationship any stronger, spending time together made it stronger.
The most vivid connection was when Peter, delighted by his daughter’s presence, threw her into the air. He didn’t ask how she was doing at the meet. He didn’t mind looking ridiculous in his bike-riding getup. He immediately and silently communicated that he thought she was wonderful. That was it. That was the connection.
Most mothers don’t hoist their fifty-pound fourth graders into the air. We talk to them. Most mothers don’t take daughters fishing or help them tinker with engines on the weekends. Fathers do. So do it. Both of you need to get away from chores and homework. You need to spend time together having fun.