I hate to dance... but not this night.
by Mitchell Ellett
I love my daughter. I love my daughter’s friends. I love that they love to dance. But I hate to dance…at least 364 days out of the year. However, there is one night that I dust off my dress shoes, put on my sport coat and do my best not to pull a muscle or injure myself. That night is the Daddy Daughter Dance.
Each year, this event is very special. I love the excitement and anticipation my daughter feels in the weeks leading up to the event. I’m not only excited, but I’m overwhelmed by the fact that she is excited to go with me. We try our best to make time for just the two of us over the course of the year, but no other night seems to be as special as this one. Maybe it’s because we have to be intentional about planning for this that makes it that way. I know the “magic” of this night will not last forever. As she grows older each year I begin to realize that my once little girl is quickly becoming a young lady. It’s impossible to make time slow down, but at least for this night, she can still be my little girl.
In years past, Eliza and I have made a point to spend this night together. We may go have dinner with some other friends and their dads, but for the most part, we tended to make it about us. This year was a little different. We have some friends of Eliza’s that lost their dad about 10 years ago. Unbeknownst to me, they had never been to a Daddy Daughter Dance. I talked with Eliza about the girls and we decided that this year they were going with us. Now, having only one daughter and knowing how excited she gets for this night; I got to multiply that by three this year—it was awesome.
We decided to pair up with another dad and his daughter for the event. I came home to a house that is normally buzzing with the joy of one girl getting ready, to a house with four young girls getting ready. My excitement meter was almost to overload. After a gourmet dinner of tacos, fajitas and quesadillas, we arrived at the party.
As expected, the 3GEN crew had done an amazing job. The venue was awesome and the desserts didn’t disappoint. Thanks to Donald Spann and the “Just Dance” tutorials, we dads with no rhythm were able to act like we knew what we were doing. Surprisingly, no dad was hurt. At one point I thought someone was having a seizure, but it was just David Sweeny dancing to the Sugar Hill Gang.
Perhaps the best part of the night is the few minutes set aside to speak with our daughters. Conversations vary, depending on the age of the child; but every dad and daughter seemed fully engaged with one another, if only for a short time. With that amount of sugar in their bloodstreams, it’s hard for them to sit still for long.
I usually feel like I have some good fatherly advice to impart and tell Eliza how I see God moving in her life, but this year was different. This year we had two friends that had lost their father—so we all spent this moment together. I felt like I had to say something, but I just couldn’t find the right words. I did think for a few moments about what their dad would have said had he been able to be there. He would tell them how proud he was of them for the young girls they were becoming. He would say how much he enjoyed spending time with them and how much fun they are to be around. He would also be so proud about the decisions they were making and what a huge help they were for their mom. He would also tell them just how much he loved them. I know these are just thoughts about what he might have said, but by the smiles on their faces, it was almost like they knew that already.
As the night came to an end we headed home. My feet hurt; muscles I didn’t know I had ached, and I was ready to get out of my “dress” clothes as soon as I could. The girls were still in party mode—I was longing for my bed, as it was 9:45. As we dropped everyone off and got home, it was great to reflect on the night and how much fun we had all had together. I couldn’t have imagined doing it any other way.
For the next 364 days, I will dread the thought of dancing; I will dread the thought of having to put on a sport coat and uncomfortable shoes. But on that 365th day, I will be as ready as ever. Ready for the fancy Mexican or Chick-Fil- A dinner; ready for the abundance of sugar in different forms, and I’ll especially be ready for the time to spend with my daughter and her friends. I may even stretch a little.