Last night, Jeff took the girls to the annual Father-Daughter Valentine's Dance sponsored by one of our homeschool associations. This event - along with the fall Father-Child Campout - is one of the highlights of their year, an evening so special I would surely be banished from the family if I ever forgot to submit the registration!
He bought them corsages (blue flowers for Rachel, pink for Abigail), took them to dinner (surprisingly, they abandoned their usual favorite place - Noodles & Co. - in favor of Applebee's), and escorted them to the three-hour dance at a local church.
Rachel found her friend Emma and alternated between dancing with her and a few other girls and dragging Jeff out onto the floor. Abigail honed in on her friend Elizabeth and - much to Rachel's bemusement - spent most of the night, "Not even dancing! All they did was walk around the room, talking!" Abigail got tired about half an hour before the end of the dance so they left a bit early, but they said they were glad not to see the last dance – reserved for the senior girls and their dads – because, as they reported this morning, "It's so pretty, but so very sad. It's the last time those girls can come to the dance!"
I love that this event contrasts so completely with the campout - where the girls revel in being "tomboys," and Jeff happily encourages them to get as dirty as possible - and, yet, is another key way for them to connect as father and daughters. Of course, Jeff spends lots of "regular" time with them - he devotes almost every evening from supper through bedtime to them, as well as virtually every Saturday morning and some Sunday afternoons while I run errands or enjoy some "off-duty" time - but there's something significant about also making time for these special occasions.
It gives them the equivalent of a fun "school dance" experience but does so in the important context of family relationships. It provides them with an opportunity to practice ladylike behavior and feel like princesses. It demonstrates for them how precious they are to their dad, which inoculates them against future situations in which young men may attempt to get away with less-than-respectful behavior and – most importantly – models on a human level how their Heavenly Father feels about them.
Plus, they get to do the Limbo - what more could they ask? :^)