|R on Daddy's lap in the taxi: she loves him!|
I am very close to my own father, and will feel forever grateful to him for everything he's given me: a love of traveling, an interest in history and ancient cultures, appreciation for classical music, blues, opera, and world music, the ability to appreciate the little, subtle things in life. He helped me to become an independent person, including convincing my mother to let me go on my first international trip, which was a watershed in my life. He's always thought I was perfect in every way, and has invariably unconditionally accepted me, even in my most awkward, angry or confused moments.
It's not that uncommon for people to denigrate fathers (as my father pointed out to me in high school, they are invariably the butt of jokes on every TV show or commercial). There's a large group of people who think they're not even necessary. But as someone who had an involved, loving father, I know that it's an irreplaceable and precious relationship. My mother is wonderful too, but a father has a special role.
I really wanted the same for R, and am thankful every day that B is a wonderful, kind, caring father. He loves R with all his heart and tells her so every day. He definitely has a different parenting style than I do: he tends to challenge R a lot more (for instance, when she's trying to do something, he will just let her struggle; I am much more likely to jump in right away). He also assumes she's braver and tougher than I do, and will tickle her, toss her in the air, roughhouse with her, allow her to dunk herself under the water, and doesn't fuss if she skins her knee or gets bruised. Sometimes it horrifies me to watch them, but R thinks it's the most fun ever.
R is very sensitive to our differences, and already chooses who to go to depending on her needs. If she's sad or scared, she wants me; but for adventure, excitement and fun, she picks her father every time. She also really does live up (or down) to our expectations: because she knows that her father won't leap in to help her, she pushes herself just a little bit harder. Most of her new physical skills have been reached for the first time when he was watching her (not because he was pushing her, as he's very laissez-faire in that respect, but because she had the space to strive). Rather more annoyingly, she also whines a lot more at me, because she knows I will respond, while her father remains unaffected.
Already R has many of her father's tastes (she likes all the food he likes, disdains sub-par food just as he does, loves the water and exercise in general, and seems to have a similar sense of humor). She even looks like him (and doesn't resemble me that much). I am really looking forward to seeing the two of them continue to develop their relationship, and am so glad that R will always have at least one man in her life to love, support, protect and encourage her.