An Open Letter to My Daughter on Her First Date

Dear daughter of mine.  You reached a milestone tonight.

Your first date.

Every dad dreads this day.  And, I must admit, I am very much like every dad.  So, to ease the sting of the first date and assure you were treated like a queen, I took matters into my own hands.

I asked you out.

The good news is you enthusiastically accepted.  No doubt my probability of success was buoyed by the fact that you believe I am a superhero, capable of throwing your giggling, 36-pound body into the air to unspeakable heights, and catching you again before you konk your head on our food-splattered wood floors.

And who wouldn’t want to date a superhero?

Don’t get me wrong.  I am certainly not naïve enough to think that my doorstep will never feel the heavy boots of a scarily-dressed, angst-ridden, mouth-breather intent on breaking curfew with my little girl.  No.  I know that day is coming.  And, sadly, I also know that you’ll look into that bumbling dolt’s eyes with the same sense of wonder that currently meets my gaze every time I miraculously untangle My Little Pony’s long-flowing, strawberry-scented hair from the whirring wheels of your Zuzu Pet.

But this first date was about planting a seed.  And I hope that our first night on the town burns into your memory with the intensity of the sun’s rays condensed by a magnifying glass.  Because tonight, at four years old, you were everything your future self aspires to be.  And since your little fingers and limited knowledge of spelling are only capable of cranking out .014 words per minute, allow me to capture your current life philosophy for your future self to ponder.

So here goes.

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Someday, Audrey, you’ll hear a voice.  It might be the voice of your friends.  Maybe a shout from a picture in a magazine.  Or, Heaven forbid, a comment from your boyfriend.  And that voice is going to tell you that you don’t have the right clothes, the right makeup, or the right face.

And when you hear that voice, I want you to put on your green Christmas dress in the middle of April, don a bright red hair bow, and clip a frilly pink flower to your collar.  And with a love-stained, faded Toasty blanket draped over your shoulder, and a sparkling pink and white unicorn tucked under your arm, I want you to tell those voices that, in your world, beauty cannot be seen.  It must be felt.  A confidence that springs forth from deep within heart and soul and bone.    Both breath-taking and life-giving.

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And no doubt there will be even more voices.  Maybe your friends.  Maybe a talking head on TV.  Or, Heaven forbid, a comment from your own father.  And that voice is going to tell you that material things matter.  It will tell you to make practical life decisions based on bank accounts and buying power, because money gives you the ability to acquire not only the good things in life, but the good life as well.

And once you’ve listened to their advice, just like today, I want you to pick a dandelion out of the grass and give it to them.  With a sincerity and smile born of your generous heart.  Ask them to turn down the radio and tell them a story about a stuffed elephant named Geraldine who flies through the air on the back of a magical horse.  Then make silly faces in the mirror at a fancy restaurant, and fill up on two loaves of free bread.  Show us how delightful it is to dip your spoon into the perfect bowl of macaroni and cheese.  Because there’s a reason it’s called comfort food.  We distracted people tend to forget. It’s the simplicity that makes you feel that way.

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Finally, one day you will hear a voice coming from inside your head.  A voice with the same tone and inflection of yours.  Using words you recognize.  A shout that only you can hear.  Confusing.  Because that voice will be saying mean and hurtful things like cannot, will not and should not.  Telling you not to dream.  Not to try.  For fear of standing out and looking foolish.

And like your first date, I want you to silence that voice and listen to the music of your soul instead.  The music that tells you to dance and twirl in the middle of a crowded restaurant.   To spin.  All eyes on you.  Not once.  Not twice.  But seven times.

Until you fall down dizzy.

Because you will fall.  Onto the cold, hard floor strewn with dirt and crumbs of cheesecake crust.  And when you fall, I want you to do just as you did tonight.  I want you to stand right back up.  And against all better judgment, I want you to pick those crumbs off your dress.  Look at them.

And eat them.

Then keep right on spinning.  Because it’s not about the messes you make.  It’s about enjoying the sweetness of the journey.  My daughter, always know that who you are is who you were made to be.

Truly.  Deeply.  Loved.

– Dad

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41 Comments

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41 responses to “An Open Letter to My Daughter on Her First Date

  1. Gabby

    Love it! Love her! Love you!

  2. beautiful! you are, without doubt, an awesome dad!

  3. Christi Faragalli

    Love, love, love! Frame this one for her room…Save it for her future husband.

  4. Kimberly Conkling Brown

    Scott, this is amazing!!! I love the way you write. Soooo talented. I will save this one!

  5. Stephanie

    You made me laugh and cry! Thank you!

  6. Brad Gabbart

    Beautiful, Scott! My absolute favorite of all your great works. Audrey is blessed to have you as a daddy. I bet she’ll always have fond memories of her first date.

  7. Coreen

    Found your blog through Mike Pentecost, he is a former pastor at our church. My husband does date w/dad for our 3 daughters. I think it was and is one of the best things he could have done to prepare our girls for the time in life when boys come a knocking. They do expect to be treated like a lady and they do not listen to all the other “voices” out there telling them what they “should” be doing. You are a gifted writer. I truly enjoyed reading your letter to your daughter. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Erica

    Audrey is very lucky to have you for a dad!

  9. Wow. What a lucky girl and a lucky dad. Well done. I’m going to go cry now.

  10. Kathie Heskamp

    Scott,
    You are a wonderful father and God has blessed you so abundantly with a beautiful wife and 2 great kids. Keep doing what you do best. Love you and your whole family.

  11. Cindy

    Beautiful!!!
    Perhaps she will have her own little princess before she fully appreciates this, but then she will find it priceless!
    Blessings to you as you experience the immense joys (and inevitable frustrations) that accompany parenting.

  12. Amy

    When I saw the photos, I was wondering why Gabby would dress her like that! Sorry, Gab! Good lessons for all of us, Scott! Love, Amy

  13. Michael

    Scott – What an amazing blog post! You’re kids are so lucky to have you as a dad!!!!

  14. Sandy

    You did it again, maestro! What a joy to read. Thank you!

  15. stacy

    This was great. I love reading your blogs. You were always thoughtful of others when we were in high school. I see that has never changed. Audrey is adorable. From what I’ve seen, you are truly blessed with a great family.

  16. Becca Gillespie Messman

    Awesome Scott!

  17. Thank you Scott. I told Cat that I hope to be as good a dad as you someday.

  18. Reading this reminded me of not only my first “real” date, but all the dates I had with my father when I was a little girl, getting dressed up and going to dinner in princess outfits. After I finished reading this, I called him up and told him thank you for all of those dates, and for scaring the life out of my first boyfriend before allowing him into the house. Your daughter is one lucky little girl, and I have a feeling that – though she may not tell you outright – she’ll treasure these moments with you when she gets older. Thank you so much for writing this for her. ~Willow

    • Hey Willow,

      I’m happy to hear that the post brought back some good memories for you. Honestly, a major reason I write this is to keep a running journal of our family life that we can all look back on it someday and smile. Sounds like you and your dad share a pretty special relationship. That is very cool. Thanks for reading. Peace!

  19. Miranda

    Great words, great guidance, and great moments my friend. More importantly, great green dress 🙂 You both look spectacular!

  20. Nancy Marroquin

    Loved this post; love you and love little Audrey! Miss you guys!

  21. Linda

    Beautiful!!!!! OMG every daddy needs to do this for thier daughter.
    This is what we see in our father’s as little girls and what we wish for …. unconditional support and love. OUR HERO’S now and forever 🙂

  22. Sabrina

    I love this post for so many reasons… not only for the pink flamingos in the lawn or the encouragement to eat crumbs…but the look of confidence in her eyes and smile and delight on her face because she has you as a dad who will always encourage her!

  23. Emilee

    Your posts just brightened my day. 🙂 I can’t wait to feel a special bond with my future son or daughter some day.

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