We left town early Saturday morning, a man and his little girl.
We came back Sunday night, a man and his nearly adult daughter.
It’s funny how two full days together can change your perceptions so greatly of someone you see every day. That’s what happened for me after my 15-year-old and I took a weekend trip to Chicago together last weekend.
I’m not completely blind nor completely stupid. I acknowledge the girl I once rocked to sleep singing “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” is nearly my height and can match my wits in nearly any conversation. I just chalked it up to good genetics.
When we got to Chicago and I saw my high school sophomore maneuvering through life with the confidence and poise of an adult, she became less of an anomaly to me and more of a reminder of the passage of time.
We were in the city for the Cubs Convention. We’d never been there before, and it’d been canceled the last few years with all the virus concerns in the world. For Christmas, we’ve been pushing to share memories with our children more than physical gifts. My wife saw this event, and we thought it might be fun for her.
She has strong feelings for this Major League Baseball team, watching the men clad in white jerseys with thin blue pinstripes nearly every night. She can name nearly every starter and knows enough interesting details about them that she could fill in as a TV announcer for a night. The Cubs are my favorite team too, although I’m much less devoted than she is.
Lots of dads brought their sons and daughters to this event, but I suspect we were one of the few families where the daughter brought her dad to the event. She truly was driving our visit, including which players she wanted to meet, which question-and-answer sessions she wanted to hear and even what meals we ought to have.
That’s not to say she was being bossy, as if that’s even a bad characteristic for a woman to have. She just had strong opinions, and she was confident enough to share them.
She was also confident enough to have meaningful conversations with the players during the brief time they spoke. As an introvert, I marveled at seeing her comfortably talk shop with these grown men. She even asked one of the players a question during the kids’ press conference at the event.
She developed her own opinions on the autograph trade and the people who use their children to get autographs they’ll likely sell. She noted her disgust with the people who literally brought buckets of balls to the event to have them signed, so they can ship them away on eBay some day. She offered them a little bit of respect for the ingenuity of placing padded seats on the buckets’ covers.
The following day, she confidently led us on a shopping expedition, clear on what she wanted to get. She spent money she’d earned through her after-school job, so I had little input. She didn’t really need it, though. Almost everything she picked out would’ve been acceptable to us.
You hear older parents say that kids grow up so fast, but it’s really hard to describe the overwhelming feeling when you see it happen all in one weekend. We knew she’d grow up some day, but we didn’t think it would be in one weekend.
Then again, we always wanted her to be confident and be her own person. It was a thrill to see she’s well on her way for that.
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