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OPINION: Uh-oh, my little girl is on to me!


By Chuck Muth

480px-chuck-muth-150x150-8160474-1133075“My dad isn’t perfect,” Kristen, my 12-year-old homeschooled daughter, wrote as her opening sentence of a creative writing project.  “I know that now.”

Uh-oh.  This can’t be good.

To grasp the concept of parental fallibility is an early warning sign of approaching teen-hood, and it is not a welcome development.  Still, the full essay gave me hope that my little girl is gonna be OK well into adulthood.  As Paul Harvey would say, here’s the rest of the story.

Kristen apparently recently heard the story about how my wife and I saved up money all summer long while working at the beach in Ocean City, Md., in 1986 so we could take a cross-country trip after the summer was over and before we had to go find work somewhere for the winter.

It was a great trip that included three separate football games (two pro, one college), Mt. Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Monument, Devil’s Tower, Little Big Horn, Yellowstone National Park and San Francisco and ended up in Los Angeles . . . where we left the car with a friend while we flew over to Hawaii.

Now here’s the part where I lost my perfectionication.

We ran out of money.

“Hearing about this surprised me,” Kristen wrote. “Sure, I was pretty disappointed in my dad.  Alright, really disappointed.  I would have never thought him capable of a mistake like that.”

Ouch.  That sort of thing hits a dad right in the heart . . . as every father with a daughter out there can fully appreciate.

But hang on . . .

So the choice facing Gia and me in Hawaii was (a) phone home and borrow money or (b) get jobs and spend the winter working in Waikiki to earn enough money to get back home in the spring.

Anyone out there think we didn’t go with Option B?

Which is what saved me from a lifetime of disappointment in my little girl’s eyes.

“This is what changed my perspective of my dad,” Kristen concluded. “He made a mistake, but he fixed it.  While I badgered him for details, he also told me he and my mom had the most fun while they were actually working in Oahu, and that ‘When you screw up, it’s your job to fix it.’  My dad isn’t perfect.  He faces challenges and sometimes he fails.  But he never gives up.”

Was it hard to read that my little girl was disappointed in me after discovering what all of you already know, that I’m not perfect?  Oh, yeah, baby.  Big time.

But that the lessons that (a) you have to fix your own screw-ups, and (b) it’s OK to fail as long as you never give up apparently has been imprinted in her psyche more than makes up for it.

Now pardon me while I go get a tissue to wipe this tear from my eye before I write about the little dog we saw get hit by a car on Friday morning.

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