It was a Daddy Daughter Dance. Unfortunately for my son, he had to work out of town. Fortunately for me, I was the second-string back up for Grace, who is 6 years old, and in first grade.
The school dance was for elementary girls, grades one through six, at our local university Grand Ballroom. My only concern was that it was from 6 to 9 PM. Having two left feet and the coordination of a one-legged giraffe, how in the world could I fake dancing that long?! In the end, it didn’t matter.
What did matter was that my granddaughter had a good time. She was dressed in a light blue dress covered with tulle. (For the ladies, aren’t you impressed I know what “tulle” is, and for us guys, it’s said “tool”, but not spelled that way, so it’s not a skirt covered in crescent wrenches like I thought.)
There were probably 250 people there, along with a live MC. Between crayons and coloring sheets at the round tables, a photo booth, refreshments, loud music and flashing lights, three hours went quick!
I had no idea who would be there, but it turned out that I knew a number of the dads and several grandfathers there. On top of it, Grace was more than happy to dance every other dance with her friends.
It’s a bit embarrassing though that a quarter of the songs played at an elementary school dance are on my phone playlist. At least it gave me a heads up on which songs to bow out of and which ones to dance with.
Anyhoo, Grace and I were some of the first on the dance floor, and literally on the very first song, first verse, I popped the heel of my dress shoe loose and couldn’t tighten it up. The heel flopped when I walked and popped the bottom of my foot. It sounded like a horse with metal shoes clicking and clocking along a city street. Thank goodness the constant music covered up the sound!
It wasn’t too long before the small girls realized they could easily slide each other around the waxed dance floor if their dress had tulle on it.
At one point I just sat watching Grace dance with her friends. It hit me, kind of hard, that not long ago my oldest son was six years old.
Now, I see my son in the face of his daughter. She was lit up with joy, laughing, giggling with friends, entertaining each other with new “moves” they made up.
Watching two generations younger than me, I smiled. Grace has her whole life in front of her.
But the pendulum swings two ways, and it got real, surreal, and really real.
In a blink of an eye, this school daddy daughter dance will be Grace’s wedding. My son will twirl his all grown up little girl in a white wedding dress with tulle, and like me, he’ll wonder just how it is that time slips away so quickly. Where did it go? How does it happen so fast?
I’m not planning on going anywhere any time soon, but I’m no fool. I have are more days behind me than ahead.
I wondered then and there, would Grace remember this? And if she does, what will she think? What will she remember the most?
And what can I, or maybe more importantly, what SHOULD I do to create more memories with my children? How can I give my grandchildren memories that have meaningful purpose?
Another song starts, a slow one from my playlist. I Loved Her First by Heartland started playing. Grace twirls my direction. Will this be the song Grace and her daddy dance to on her wedding day?
Soon she is standing on my shoes. With each rough dance step from me, Grace flows and follows the movements of the shoes on which she stands.
She laughs in delight, not knowing every time I side shuffle my right shoe it’s to drag my heel back in place, not just to be silly. Still, she finds it funny, and laughs all the more.
Her laughter is free, complete, the kind that starts in the pit of the your belly, and by the time it bubbles over the vocal chords, it’s an out of breath, almost hysterical laughter.
It’s the innocent laughter, the kind children have before the dance of life leaves scratches, skinned knees, and ultimately some scars upon the heart. It’s the kind of laugh where the moment, and only that moment, it’s the only thing in the universe that exists, and every second, every drop of the moment is squeezed dry of fun.
Oh how I hope she can keep that laugh! How much would I give if years from now when she is my age she can still know laughter that starts in the pit of the stomach! I hope her spirit is still free as a bird like now!
We were some of the first to arrive, some of the last to leave.
Before taking her back to her mommy, Grace and I talked about the evening as we waited for a Happy Meal in the McDonald’s drive through. She said her favorite part of the night was dancing on my shoes.
For me, that memory is my Happy Meal. Hold on to the memory, Grace! Hold on!