Saturday, March 5, 2011

Laudatio Filiarum

This past Tuesday evening I watched my daughter Monika play bass in the orchestra concert. I couldn’t have been prouder, especially once having been a musician when I wore a younger man’s shoes. The next evening, Wednesday, I had a good time watching episodes of “Lie to Me” with Jessi and Erika, as they put up with my wisecrack remarks here and there. Daughters are a special blessing. They’re vibrant blossoms of femininity that brighten my day. Even on those days when they’re acting like drama queens, even when Jessi blares her movies in the living room to such an extent that you’d think she was trying to break the sound barrier, I enjoy their presence. True enough, I’m a lone wolf and neither a fan of chitchat nor gossip; yet they bring balance to my life.

Back in my graduate school days, a friend of mine, who was adamant about having sons and couldn’t understand initially why I would want daughters, espoused a theory. His theory basically consisted of a quote from Euripides: “To a father growing old nothing is dearer than a daughter.” Yes and no, I say. I suppose the ancient Greek playwright had foremost in mind the prospect of becoming feeble with old age and needing someone to look after him. I don’t think about such things. After all, my retirement plan consists of a bottle of Jack, a shotgun, and a remote woodsy area. But I’d agree that watching my daughters flourish and experience life gives me some satisfaction and solace as my life slowly recedes into the background.

I still haven’t mastered the fine art of raising daughters, though I try as best as I can. Granted, I’m rarely home these days, what with itinerant teaching, evening shifts at my other job, and military junkets throughout the country. My wife has done a much better job than I, and being a high school teacher where our kids go to school has made things easier for her. My younger girls are in their mid teens, and Erika, my first born, is already 20. I’ve learned a thing or two about girls over the years. For instance, I know that Monika, who’s taking French in school, likes to have breakfast once in a while at that fancy French bakery within five minutes of our home. I’ve also figured out how to bribe Jessi in order to sit and watch a horror movie with me. She likes Butterfinger Easter Eggs and Easter bunny Snickers, as well as Utz Cheese Balls from Sam’s Club, not to mention other particular treats that I have hidden in the house for rainy days. How do I know this? Well, I’ve found out, sometimes to my chagrin, that my daughters like the same things that I do. I sometimes tell my wife not to buy certain goodies, lest I succumb to temptation and ruin my diet. Her usual response is such: “Der! Those are all the things that the kids like!”

I still recall vividly each of the days that those little pink nymphs magically appeared.  Well, I guess it wasn't exactly magic, and, now that I think about it, Erika was more purple than pink.  Yes, it seems like only yesterday when I was wiping their butts, holding their hands, and pushing them around in a cart.  Tomorrow I'll be walking them down the aisle.