Shake it off already.
As a parent, there’s a whole world of firsts. This past Saturday was a first for me on a whole new level. My daughter Leah and I went to our first Daddy/Daughter Dance. I had no idea what to expect. Fortunately, an unlikely source got me through the nerves, chaos and unabashed fun. Of course we’re talking about Taylor Swift:
It’s like I got this music in my mind.
Saying it’s gonna be alright.
Stress is my frenemy. I do my absolute best work when there’s a spotlight and no script. I also get stressed about everything. Everything!
When it comes to dancing, there are people with rhythm, people who sort of have rhythm, people who can’t dance and people who really can’t dance. I’m 32 floors below people who can’t dance. It’s dreadfully bad.
I hated having to go to dances in school and avoided dancing at weddings when humanly possible. Now I was going to dance with my kid in front of other dads. The logical person in me should have absolutely zero concern over this. Why was I a bit nervous? Fortunately, Leah had some solutions.
I’m dancing on my own, I make the moves up as I go.
And that’s what they don’t know, that’s what they don’t know.
As Leah says, “I am what I am, and I do what I do.” She only had three concerns about the big event.
- Would she get a present? She did.
- Would there be cake? What’s a party without cake?
- Would her best friend from kindergarten be there? Not sure.
There was no concern over peer pressure, no worries about what to wear or not wear. To her, it was a chance to have fun. No more. No less.
So often, parents are the ones who can mess things up. We focus on what happened in the past or worry about what will happen in the future. What about now? No really – now. This moment. This opportunity. This chance to spend time with your kid. As parents, we teach them plenty. Leah helped teach me to shake off these nerves and just go. So I did.
I never miss a beat, I’m lightning on my feet.
And that’s what they don’t see, that’s what they don’t see.
Leah ended up finding her best friend from kindergarten. Like backup dancers from Taylor Swift’s tour, it was a whirling dervish of activity and an ongoing quest to make sure you knew where your kid was while every pop song imaginable blared over the speakers.
Leah is six; she didn’t need her dad. I suppose this may emerge as a trend in later years.
You could’ve been getting down to this sick beat.
The result left me in an unexpected position. I, and about 150 other dads, were just hanging around trying to figure out what to do. Fortunately, the spirit of our playful bunch diffused to dads. Instead of looking at our phones in a haze, I had a chance to connect with random strangers, share some jokes and even see old neighbors I hadn’t seen in years.
I could have been getting down, but I feel lifted up by the sense of community. I was also thrilled to support an important cause; the dance raised nearly $10,000 for breast cancer research.
I stay out too late, got nothing in my brain.
Leah’s bedtime is around 8. At 8:40, I realized it was probably time to have left 20 minutes ago. There was just one problem; I couldn’t find her. Leah wanted to go to the bathroom with the big kids all by herself. In the haze of humanity, she went back in the gym, and I missed her.
Six or seven minutes later, I saw Leah talking with another dad. Here’s what I heard as I walked over.
“It’s always important to find a policeman or fireman if you go missing so they can help you find your daddy. And then, (looks over) Daddy there you are.”
As she ran over a for a hug, I realized she was getting bigger but was still my little girl. I suspect it will be that way for a while. The only thing left to do before we had to go home was shake it off.
But I keep cruising.
Can’t stop, won’t stop moving.
It was only once dance, a three-minute country song with words I can’t remember. The moment, Leah kissing my hand and asking for me to pick her up. That’s one that will stick with me for a while.
I hope every dad will shake off their anxiety and past worry and find ways to live in the now. Doing so will make moments that last a lifetime. It’s easy to start. All you have to do is shake it off.
By Dan Farkas, Contributor