"A cooking class? You wouldn't catch me dead in one of those!" exclaimed my friend when I suggested that he and his daughter accompany my daughter and me to one. "Boss, I can't even boil water, let alone cook a meal. Maybe she can attend the class with her mum."
Well, his loss entirely, because the class was a hoot and a half! First, I was the only father in attendance. All the other kids, even the boys, were accompanied by their mothers. (When I asked why no other dad had come along, the answers were the stereotypical-my husband is too busy, my dad has no interest in all this, my hubby would be bored stiff with all this "cooking-shooking"...) Being the only dad meant that I got special attention from the teacher. And my daughter loved showing me off.
Second, baking was a great father-daughter experience. We had flour all over us, chocolate on our lips, dough in our hair, and happy, lopsided grins on our faces. I couldn't help feeling bad for all those fathers who are so set in their stereotypical and sexist ways that they can't imagine cooking with their children-and enjoying it thoroughly. Personally, I've made it a point to not abjure experiences with my daughter just because they are traditionally associated with women. Other than the cooking class, I've listed a few of my favourite times spent with my daughter-experiences that a sexist dad will never allow himself.
Let's doll up!
Some of my best conversations with my daughter have happened while we were playing with her dolls. It helps that she's currently over the 'Barbie' phase, and into the infinitely more interesting Monster High dolls. It is great fun to create ghastly and gory stories of teenage monsters' escapades and roll in laughter at the horrible silliness of it all. After all who wouldn't find a story about Draculara (Dracula's teenage daughter) finding a victim's blood too salty and asking for low sodium blood from a healthier victim, the next time around, funny?
Of such silliness are some of the greatest father-daughter moments made.
Made up and ready to go
Yes, makeup. Something I detest on young girls, but something they're irresistibly drawn to. So I figured that instead of ordering her to stay away, I'd convert it into a silly game. I told her that if she put on her mum's lipstick, I would too. And I did. Then she decided to play beautician and make me her subject. Makeup, lipstick, blush, mascara-the works. And her mum joined in with more relish than I would have liked.
The end result was so ghastly that I had to bribe the mother-daughter extortionist pair with a movie, dinner and ice-cream before they agreed to delete ALL the photos they had sneakily taken on my wife's mobile. The threat of these photos being made public on Facebook would have brought stronger men than me to their knees.
Even though those photos of me in full bridal makeup will be forever denied to the world, we made some priceless memories that afternoon.
Dance like no one's watching
I have to admit, the sight of your daughter's pretty, 20-something dance teacher doubling over in laughter after watching your attempts to follow her steps isn't exactly an ego boost; but believe me it's worth it. See, every once in a while, my daughter's dance school invites parents and friends to join in for a class-just for fun. Again, the fathers are conspicuous by their absence at these open-for-all classes. But not me. I jump right in with enthusiasm. With mixed results, as you've already surmised.
Well, mixed for me, but pretty unequivocal for the watchers. The worst, and the best part was watching my daughter hoot and laugh hysterically with her teacher. I knew then, that I had danced right out of contention as a serious dancer, and straight into my daughter's heart!
And that is somewhere, a sexist dad will never find a place.