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Confessions of an (Ex) Daddy’s Little Girl
Think of the biggest daddy’s girl you know. Now multiply that by ten, and throw in an extra princess tiara. That was me. Growing up, my dad and I were attached at the hip. We chased each other with water guns, watched The Lion King together and scarfed down sundaes until we got brain freeze. We talked about everything—from how sad it was when Mufasa died for Simba to how Amanda, a girl in my class, kept on stealing my spot on the reading carpet. There was nothing I couldn’t tell my dad. Then puberty happened.
Almost overnight, everything changed. I don’t remember what exactly brought about the transformation; all I know is that one day I was racing down the stairs to greet him after work with our usual, suffocating bear hug, but then I stopped myself. Suddenly, I became very conscious of my body. I was still ten, going on eleven—the same age I had been yesterday— except today, I didn’t want to hug my dad anymore.
“Everything OK, honey? Was Amanda being annoying again?” My dad asked, grinning, his arms open wide for a hug.
“Nope.” I shrugged and walked away, ignoring the confused look on his face.
Sex never really came up between me and my dad until the summer before my freshman year of college, when I caught my dad wailing Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” in the kitchen.
Never Quite the Same
From that moment on, I stopped giving my dad hugs after work. As my body began to change and I got my period for the first time, I grew closer and closer to my mom. I felt comfortable asking her about tampons and bras and deodorant because I knew she had gone through the same process. She was safe.
I began to talk to my dad less and less. I found myself going to my mom with questions about clothes, then boys, and soon, “the talk.” I was glad to hear about sex from her, and I think my dad was glad it happened that way, too. Forget talking about sex with him, I could barely stop blushing every time my mom brought up “training bras” in front of my dad.
During those middle school years, I grew out of my Disney phase, and eventually, sometime in the winter of seventh grade, Amanda moved away and the reading circle was gone, too. There was nothing left for me and my dad to talk about it seemed.
The next few years passed by in a blur. Sex came up every now and then, with the occasional reference in Family Guy and that really awkward Viagra scene from Scary Movie 4, which felt like it lasted for an hour—still recovering from that one—but that was it. The funny thing was I could talk to anyone about sex—friends, classmates, my mom, other parents, even teachers—everyone except my dad. It was like the barrier between us was still stuck in puberty: stubborn, irrational and refusing to budge.
A Song Breaks the Ice
In fact, sex never really came up between me and my dad until the summer before my freshman year of college, when I caught my dad wailing Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” in the kitchen. Needless to say, it was hilarious, and I couldn’t help it: I started laughing. Before I knew it, we were talking about how the song was so inappropriate because my little brothers were in the next room, and they had no idea what a virgin even was. But I did, and I was going to stay that way in college, or be responsible and use condoms safely—and just like that, it happened. My dad and I finally talked about sex. And laughed about it, too!
Looking back, I wish this had happened sooner. I suppose that phase was just part of growing up, but I can’t help thinking about what it would have been like to confide in my dad during those years, when I needed him most. He had been there for me all along; I had just turned away. But I know better now, and I’m not going to pass up this opportunity. Maybe it’s time to start practicing my bear hugs again.
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