Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

The Rise Of Florida Dad

Florida Dad. I heard this the first time from my older daughter a few weeks ago as this is how I am referenced by her roommates at college. Initially, I cringed at the stigma of being confused with the moronic “Florida Man,” you know, the stupid that makes the news for doing dumb things. My daughter assured me, this was not the case. The title of Florida Dad was a good thing to be called by her friends.

I earned this title for the stories told by my daughter, from my longer kept hair, and the fact that I do not wear shoes, only flip flops, no matter what. I came off described as somewhat of a surfer dude, or surfer Dad.

Disclaimer, I have never even seen a surfboard. But I guess the rest of the stereotype fits. Like a sighting of Bigfoot, my reputation among my daughter’s roommates was solidified when they met me in person during a visit to campus last year, in October, in the cold, wearing flip flops, and hair flowing in the wind. Florida Dad was real. He does exist.

I need to preface this next part, when my daughter was younger, one of my ways to help make school events fun, I volunteered to disc jockey/emcee their events. She could not find a place anywhere to hide her discomfort, that her Dad was the DJ for her school functions. To be clear, at no time did I ever single her out, volunteer her during a group song, nothing. So, her evasion of me was really confusing. Her friends all thought that it was cool that her Dad was the DJ, but not my daughter.

Fast forward to college, and the “legend” of Florida Dad. That was my daughter’s word, not mine. I was cautiously curious as I was not sold on the whole “Florida Dad” title. I asked her, what upgraded me to “legendary status.” She had been talking amongst her friends, and it turns out, they believe I am capable of taking on, and overturning political decisions that are having an impact on them. Now while my daughter’s friends know nothing about me really, as far as I know, Madison is very well aware that many years ago, I ran for public office, school board, a decade ago. My intentions were clear, represent the entirety of the school district, taxpayers and students, protect the students and their educations, and so forth.

Honestly, I thought my daughter was too young to pay attention or even care about my campaigning. Sure, every now and then, she might mention that a friend would ask if the guy running for school board was her Dad, and occasionally a teacher would pass their support on to me, but other than that, I really did not think she paid attention. Well, she must have.

She and her friends had been talking recently about current events, and how decisions being made by politicians are affecting them, issues such as: being women, sexuality, and race. To be clear, these young adults have already voted at least once, so they recognize what needs to be done, to create change, and to protect their rights. My daughter must have thought more of what I had done, along with her knowing my personal feelings, and shared them with her friends, who clearly see me as an advocate and protector for the many issues affecting their lives: the right to women’s health care, LGBTQ+ rights, and protection from discrimination and bigotry, something clearly being pushed today by many politicians.

My daughter has evidently made it clear to her friends, that I am on their side. And I will vote to protect and support their rights. I do not believe the bullshit of a false fight of CRT, or pulling books from library shelves. I can see through all of this nonsense, as do others. But I also see, a whole new generation of voters, that also see these fights are false tropes. They are just looking for the right leaders to represent them.

My days in politics are long over. But I am proud to learn, my daughter evidently paid a lot more attention to the examples that I set for her and her sister. I am proud that my daughter will be an educated and informed voter. Evidently, so will her friends be as well.

As for me, I guess I will finally welcome my title, “Florida Dad,” because clearly, in this reference, it was a good thing.

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