I used to be Daddy to my daughter.
It was Daddy this and Daddy that. I used to carry her on my shoulders. We used to sing together. Every Christmas season I would take her for a Daddy-Daughter New York City day. We’d visit the tree, go see Santa at Macy’s, have lunch at Serendipity. I would volunteer in her classes; come in and talk about writing. My daughter used to admire me and think of me as something bigger than just a guy with a keyboard and a baseball cap.
I was Daddy.
My daughter is now 12. Tonight she had eight friends over for a party. Back when I was Daddy, I was a part of the party. I’d chase kids around, sing goofy songs, sit and watch the movie, cut the cake, make jokes.
Tonight, I wasn’t Daddy. I was dad. She wanted to talk to her friends without me around. She asked if I’d go upstairs. “No,” I said. “I’ll be in the dining room writing.” They watched a movie, Pitch Perfect. Sang along to the songs, laughed, joked. I was on the outside, not even looking in. Just overhearing. When the film ended, my daughter—the one who called me Daddy for much of her life—told her friends they should all go outside so they could talk in private. About school. About boys.
I get it. I’m not insulted, but I’m sad.
I used to be Daddy.
I never will be again.