Rites of passage

There was a man who loved his daughter.

Not unusual, but this particular man was not very good at showing emotion, and thought that people would know, by his actions, how he felt.  He knew that this made them needy at times, and he blamed himself for it, but still he could not open up.

There was jealousy within the family because of this, and he bore the stress unto himself, trying to please everyone.

At the age of 15, his girl told him she wanted to be like some of her friends and get a small tattoo, to which he readily agreed.  Not long after that, she wanted to get her tongue pierced, and this caused an uproar. Her mother would have none of it, and pressured him not to consider it, saying he was too soft, and their daughter had him wrapped around her finger.  So, he did tell her no, as firmly as he could muster, and there was much drama and sobbing off and on for a few days.  The subject was soon brought up again, after he thought it had been forgotten.  Seeing the potential of another fight, he spoke to his wife privately, and struck the bargain that if their daughter still wanted this in a year, when she turned 16, he would see about it.  Both thought that she would lose interest by then, and go on to something else.

Indeed, when the time came, he had already put it out of his mind, but his girl’s resolve was strong, and, on the very day of her birthday, she said it was time for him to keep his promise.  Eyeing his wife sheepishly, he said he would look into it, then spoke to friends and acquaintances whose kids had gone for similar things.  Their best advice was to find a place that was government inspected, had an autoclave, and used disposable needles.  He sought advice from an actual government website, and found similar admonitions.  Within a few days, he took her, and the deed was done, not without some squealing on her part and a look of instant regret.  However, she put a brave face on it, and there was relative calm within the house for a time, even though his wife was resentful.

A year later, when it was prom time at the high school, the big kerfuffle was to find his girl a dress.  She was valedictorian, so it needed to be something special.  Off to the city they all went, together with a couple of her friends, and landed at a fancy shopping mall.  Mom & Dad left the trio to their own devices, telling their daughter they would meet back at a certain time, and hopefully she would find something she liked.  He and his wife then wandered about for a while, looking into the windows of some dress shops as they went.  He spotted a formal gown in black, beaded with beautiful silver designs upon it, and said to his wife “That’s the one she’s going to want.”  They walked for a half hour more, and made another circuit of the mall.  Coming to the same shop again, he decided to go in and ask the price.  The saleswoman said “you know, we have someone in here trying one on right now”.  It was $425, and, of course, you know who was trying it on.  While they were there, she came out of the room to look at herself.  Dad saw her first, and looked pleadingly at his wife, who, after seeing this sight, had no choice but to give in.  Their girl was glowing, and her friends gave her some envious looks.

After the prom, she announced to her Dad, when they were home alone, that there was going to be a party at a cottage belonging to one of her friends’ parents.  He gave her something of a cross examination, and, respectfully enough, she told him that there was “probably” going to be booze, and maybe even drugs, there.  For the first time in his life, he gave her a flat “No”.  She pleaded and said that she, of all people, had to show up, and would stay away from that kind of activity.  He believed her, but would not let her go, and she kept testing his resolve.  Something let go within him, and this man who had always kept his thoughts to himself, began to cry silently.

A change came over his little girl, and she crossed the room to him, hugging him tightly.

She said “Dad.  Dad.  You have nothing to worry about ever again from me.  I will not go.”

On his birthday, the card she gave to him said “Dad, I love you because you love me”.
Fifteen years later, he still has it.

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