Our 14 year old daughter and I went to see Tangled this afternoon. Given my work situation and schedule, we don't get to spend a lot of time together, so today I was happy to give up some football for a little father-daughter bonding time.
For those of you not familiar with the movie, it's the Disney version of the Rapunzel fairy tale. It's a well done film - great animation and production values, good story line, a couple of nice plot twists - the whole enchilada.
Without giving away too much, it's a coming of age story. A teen-aged girl who has spent her whole life in a tower suddenly gets out into the world. It has everything - adventure, comedy, betrayal, heartbreak, the aforementioned plot twists, and of course the requisite happy ending. I could have done without a couple of the songs, but overall it's a very good movie. I highly recommend it - two thumbs up.
However, the point of this post is not to do a Siskel and Ebert imitation. As 'the girl' sat there happily munching on popcorn and slurping her drink, I was struck by the parallels between the movie and where she is in her life's journey. Sometimes when I look at her I see the beautiful, self-confident, resourceful woman she's going to be. Other times I see the awestruck little girl she used to be, gazing in wonderment at all the new and exciting things in this great big wonderful world. I can handle either one of those versions. But I'm woefully ill-equipped to deal with her at this in-between stage.
I have no experience with daughters. I have an older son from a previous marriage, plus a first-born son from my current marriage. My sister has two boys. My wife's sister has three boys. No one in our family knows what to do with a girl.
With boys, it's like a Wild Kingdom video. As soon as they begin to challenge the alpha male (that would be me) they're booted out of the nest to fend for themselves. But with a girl, I alternate between screening her friends with a thoroughness that makes TSA employees look like slackers, and cowering in a corner while she reads me the riot act.
"Daddy, I'm not a child anymore!"
Well, actually, yes you are, and you always will be to me. The challenge is (1) for me to deal with the fact that she is metamorphosing from my little girl to a strong, independent woman, and (2) to hide from her the fact that I'm totally incapable of (1).
Have you ever seen Taken...?
16 hours ago