Dear eldest and most expensive daughter,
Well, the time has finally come for you to graduate from high school, spread your wings and find exciting, new ways to spend my cash in college.
It seems like only yesterday that you were first hinting to your parents (especially me) that you were really the one in charge and that you just planned to humor us for the next 18 years.
Now that I look back, it was pretty clear that you always had me completely outmatched. I still remember one time when you had just finished your bottle, and I lifted you up over my head to make you giggle. It was such a precious moment for me as I laughed along with you, looked up into your beautiful eyes — and watched you spit up directly into my mouth. I’ll never forget that taste of partially digested Similac, and I’m so glad I could share it with you.
Then there was the time when you were around three years old and requested a doctor set for Christmas — not one of those inexpensive plastic ones made by Fisher-Price, but a REAL doctor set. (When I was that age, I was still trying to determine whether dirt was edible.) I spent a good part of early December that year browsing through the local medical supply shops looking for the perfect bedpan and learning that the kidney-shaped vomit bowl is really called an “emesis basin.” Good times!
Throughout your pre-teen years, I watched in amazement as you would happily get us up at 5 a.m. to attend horseback riding competitions, knowing even back then that I could scarcely perform basic bodily functions at that time of day. And throughout high school, you have been so admirably involved in National Honor Society, academic competitions, Zonta Club and your dance and drill team. In contrast, I spent most of my high school years grooming my mullet and fruitlessly trying to convince a girl — any girl — to make out with me under the bleachers.
In a few short days, I’ll swell with pride when I watch you graduate with honors in the top 10 percent of your high school class, remembering that I graduated with horrors at the thought of trying to calculate percentages.
I know I’m not quite the same dad I was when you were little as the years have taken their toll. My joints are constantly committing acts of insurrection against the rest of my carcass. The other day, I’m pretty sure I hyperextended my earlobe while shaving. And as I sit writing this column, I do so with searing pain radiating down my neck from reaching too far in the shower to shampoo my back hair. Heck, these days, a simple sneeze puts my entire musculoskeletal system at risk of collapse.
Along with my physical descent into fossilization, you have been so patient as you’ve grown up with my ongoing grouchiness, vanity, embarrassing dad jokes, and title as the Grand Master of Cringey “Boomers.”
No, I’m afraid you didn’t win the lottery when it came to dads. In fact, you barely won the dad version of a free squirt of hand sanitizer available at the entrance of Wal-Mart.
But I do love you more than life, and I can’t tell you how proud your mom and I are of your accomplishments. I thank the Lord every day that He gave you to us–our brave, determined girl — and I pray that as you and the other seniors in the class of 2021 take your journey through adulthood, you’ll remember to laugh a lot, love a lot, and keep your mouth closed when you lift your baby over your head someday.
Dad/The Grand Master of Cringey “Boomers”