I have always enjoyed singing to both of my daughters. I sang the classic lullabies to them, as well as contemporary songs, that as a disc jockey, I came across that would always be a reminder to me whenever I would hear them on the radio or elsewhere. At least early on, I know my daughters enjoyed the entertainment. It was soothing to them as they fell asleep. Not so much as they grew into teenagers however. They know that I can sing, it is just, just as I directed the lullabies at them, if I sang a song and they were with me, I was always going to dedicate the song to them bringing them a house-full of eyes staring at them, in the warm, endearing moment it was meant to be. And these are always songs that reflect the daddy/child relationships.
John Berry is a country music singer, and recorded one of those songs that I sang to my daughters as babies. The song was called “How Much Do You Love Me.” The song told of the relationship between child and father from toddler to teenager to adulthood. Powerful descriptive lines:
“Dad, I’m playin’ dinosaurs. ‘Do you want to be one too?’
I set my grown-up world aside and said: ‘I’ll be right there'”
“She called me from a party late one night, her junior year
And bravely gave an address through the stories and the tears”
“Children grow and years go by moms and dads get grey
Little girl’s get married and give their dinosaurs away
They’ll live their grown up lives and call their daddies now and then”
And each chorus sings the same message as the daughter asks her father and then the father answers her back:
“How much do you love me?”
“How much do you really care?”
I touched heart, spread my wings, and said:
“All the way to there”
I would play this song annually at a particular Daddy/Daughter Dance for a family friend. It did not take long for me to learn how to sing it, and to this day, the song holds a special meaning to me.
My daughters have always been my priority. I know that I always have two sets of eyes watching me, as I try to set examples for them, to be their role model, as a father should be.
I cherished every moment I had to play with them, read to them, and yes, sing to them. One fact that I knew I had to quickly accept, they would not always stay young. But I made sure that they learned to enjoy life, and have a lot of fun.
As they have grown, one of the things that I have been pleasantly surprised by, they both have a great sense of humor. Yes, they have all of the other traits that parents want their children to have, but they have picked up some of my mannerisms from imitations to snarkiness.
More important than picking up my sense of humor, they are at the stage where they have to learn that decisions they make today, may have an impact on their lives tomorrow, especially when it comes to college. I try to impress upon them some of the things that institutions look at when approving students, that they may not realize a big deal after all. School attendance, being caught even as a bystander in a situation requiring legal enforcement, to participation in outreach and social organizations. All the while, behind the scenes, I know, having been a teenager eons ago, my daughters will face some peer challenges along the way. And it is important to me that my daughters know that I will always be there for them, no questions asked, no matter what.
There is so much happening at this stage that I wish we could just take a break and go back to playing with dinosaurs again. But before they are on their own, they need to learn how to handle money. I want my daughters to learn the respectful way to challenge authority, and when it is necessary. It is easier to do this now with a school course, than it would be with an employer. It is important to me that they learn to diversify and look for as many examples to help them form their own opinions. And yes, one of the most important lessons, when to take on a fight, and when to walk away, and how to take on that fight if that option is chosen.
And as quickly as their childhoods will be past, so will their teenage years, and then the “dinosaurs” will be just a memory. And I just hope that I have done all I can to prepare them for this world and all that they will have to contribute to it.
But the one thing that I want them to always remember, is how much I love them, and always have, as I “touch my heart, and spread my wings and say, all the way to there.”