I have three daughters. The oldest of the three is a tween and loves horses, reading books (not Twilight) and can’t stand Justin Bieber or any tween heartthrob like him. Most tweens her age are too busy texting, Tweeting, or surfing the web for pictures of the latest teen plasticine fresh face, but she would rather go to the annual Medieval Fair with her dad than do anything else.
Today we attended the annual Medieval Fair in Norman Oklahoma, this time in full Renaissance garb. I wore my hand-made pirate costume and she wore her period Renaissance dress. Her mother came along dressed in more recent attire and took these photos of us during the three hours we spent there.
We walked arm in arm, like they used to do back in “ye-oldee” times as she says, her small hand inside my forearm, her Irish red hair blowing in the Spring breeze. I watched as she spotted every dog being walked on a leash, watched her put her hand quickly to her mouth when the two knights in armor crashed together during the jousting tournament, and stood in line for Doc Magilly’s Sasparilly refills. (If you bring the bottle back, refills are only a buck!).
We set a steady course for the replica pirate ship and paid the carnies good money to climb aboard (after first saying “Permission to come aboard” in our most authentic Welsh accent. Why are all pirates Welsh or Irish? I guess they make good pirates). We climbed aboard the forecastle and posed for pictures, fired off a tennis ball cannon, strolled into the captain’s quarters where we looked through a spy glass, went below decks and learned about the galley, the hold and the brig, and taunted some poor chap who managed to get himself locked in there with a skeleton named “Bill”.
Most of all, we had some quality father-daughter time. I remember bringing her home from the hospital and how she cried for three months straight (I am not exaggerating). She used to have this funny, old man receding hair line when she started growing hair, but look at her now. She is the picture of beauty with her little parasol we bought for her at the fair.
I have decided today that I am ready for her to start becoming a young woman. I suppose it won’t matter whether I’m ready or not, but it is good to at least try to prepare myself. I suppose I’ve done a good enough job as a parent so far in that her interests are more mature and we frequently discuss college, future plans, and generally give her more and more freedom to make the decisions that will effect the rest of her life. She has these dreams because we have taught her to value them, and we have disciplined her enough to know to think for herself and to make sound decisions that are weighed with logic and forethought. I think it has something to do with her love of reading as well.
I’ll end this post before my eyes get a little misty, but I can see that is already happening. I love this girl so much and have such hope for her future, but know that it takes much more than hoping to have success with your kids. It takes spending time with them, guiding them, loving them no matter what, being interested in them, listening to them and above all standing by them through all the ups and downs.