Currently, I’m sitting on a tiny stool outside the bathroom where my 7-year old daughter is taking a bath. The door is open and she is playing with what looks like a blue plastic swimming pool. She’s filling it up with bubbles at the moment. She’s also talking to me non-stop. I’m not sure what she’s really saying because I’m concentrating on writing this post. But her voice sounds like music.
Hold on, let me try to find out what she’s saying…..
Ok. She just told me that if you take a really, really hot bath, it feels like you’ve just gotten out of the dryer. And you stay warm all night. Which makes me wonder how she knows what it feels like to have just gotten out of the dryer. What goes on here when I’m not around?
Anyway. I don’t normally sit on a tiny stool outside the bathroom while she takes a bath. I generally entrust the area of bathing to the expertise of my wife.
So why am I sitting here now?
Before I started running the bath, she said she wasn’t feeling well. She said that when she’s in the bath and not feeling well, that Mommy sits on the stool outside the door of the bathroom and plays on the computer. I’m not sure if that’s really ever happened before, but since Mommy’s not here to confirm or deny this assertion, here I am. Although she seems to feel just fine. She’s continuing to play with the bubbles. Which aren’t bubbles, apparently, they’re “icing” on the cake she’s making. So while she makes imaginary cakes, I continue sitting on the stool outside the door, playing on the computer. Because that’s what she asked me to do.
When my wife and I were expecting our first child, we read some parenting books. We talked to people who have been parents for a long time and asked for advice. We prayed for wisdom and patience. A lot of wisdom and patience. We tried to find out everything we could about what it means to be a parent. Then we had our first child, a son, and tried our best to put into practice what we learned. We made mistakes. A lot of mistakes. But over the course of four years, we finally settled into a groove in raising our boy. Truth be told, he was fairly easy to raise. He didn’t fuss much, he rarely whined or complained. By the time Lisa got pregnant with our second child, we were pretty confident that we knew how to raise a boy.
Which, of course, is why we had a girl.
Girls are……different than boys. I know. News flash, right? Raising a girl is an altogether different experience than raising a boy. I’ve often tried to place my finger on the fundamental way that it’s different. There are the obvious physical and emotional differences that show up in various ways. But that doesn’t fully capture the essence of this basic difference between the two.
Then the other day it hit me.
I haven’t looked at a job description in a long time. I’ve been in my line of work for 18 years. I have a little bit of a handle on what it is I’m supposed to be doing. Although some would probably argue that point. But back when I was getting started in my career working with teenagers, I tried to make sure I was doing what was expected of me. In order to accomplish that, I had to familiarize myself with the bullets of the job description. At the end of the list of responsibilities was a catch-all phrase that let me know that, in addition to all of my other responsibilities, there may be occasions where my supervisor would give me tasks that weren’t part of the job description. These tasks could not be predicted or summarized in a general list, but I would be responsible to carry them out, nonetheless. The last bullet on the job description said this:
“Other duties assigned by the Pastor.”
When you’re raising a boy, for the most part everything you do lands within the expected duties of a parent. There’s not a ton of surprises, or drama, or unforeseen circumstances. Fathering a boy goes pretty much by the job description.
When it comes to being Daddy to a little girl, you’ve got all of the standard and expected parenting responsibilities to take care of. But there’s an additional bullet added.
“Other duties assigned by the daughter.”
- Getting a hair band out of a Barbie Doll’s tangled hair.
- If we’re walking anywhere, particularly home from school, she always prefers to sit on my shoulders. She calls it a “neck ride.”
- Kissing her doll or stuffed animal good night in addition to her.
- Blow drying her hair before she goes to bed.
- Getting the tangles out of her hair in the morning.
- Serving beverages in a container that has either a twisty or bendy straw.
- Holding hands while watching TV.
- Sitting on a tiny stool outside the bathroom while she’s taking a bath.
The list goes on. New things are being added every day. It’s one surprise after another. And never a dull moment.
Other duties assigned by the daughter.
For me (and I realize that others may have a different experience), this is the essence of raising a girl.
It may be my favorite part of the Daddy job description.