This hits me between the eyes. I have a 24-year-old daughter who hasn’t spoken to me in almost 2 years; in fact, she’s been distant since she turned 18 and went off to college.
My daughter was a beautiful child, brilliant and talented. She was accepted into the Florida gifted program in first grade, was a straight A student and won every talent show she entered, with a voice and a stage presence that would make any father beam.
And while I always told her that there was no target she couldn’t hit, my behavior, my constant protection and sheltering made her doubt. I helped her with her projects, became the videographer for her thespian group and even spent twelve years on the school advisory council, so that no teacher could ever fuck with her.
I was so busy trying to protect her, that I was doing her harm, making her wonder if she’s so able, “Why is my dad always standing behind me waiting to catch me if I fall?”
I would still, without hesitation, dive into a shark's mouth to protect her, but I wish she knew how confident I am in her ability to navigate dangerous waters.
If I could go back in time, I can’t swear to not have binoculars in my beach bag and a spear gun hidden in the sand, but I would let her swim by herself.