From Chicken Soup for the Father & Daughter Soul

Daddy’s Little Tomboy

What gift of Providence bestowed on man is so dear to him as his children?


Thanks to her father’s coaching, nine-year-old Kathy could outpitch, outshoot and outrun most of her classmates in baseball, basketball and touch football. So when she was invited to be a flower girl at her cousin’s wedding, no one was more surprised than her father that she accepted.

Up to then, blonde, blue-eyed Kathy showed little interest in dressing up. While she wore skirts and sweaters to school and church, she preferred wearing jeans and T-shirts and playing with neighborhood kids in the park across the street from our home.

Each time we shopped for her wedding attire, her enthusiasm for the impending nuptial ceremony increased while her interest in sports decreased. This prompted her father to comment, “I think our little tomboy is ready to be more feminine.”

At the rehearsal party, Kathy listened intently to the bride’s instructions on what was expected of a flower girl. All the way home, she bubbled with excitement. “I promise to make you proud of me tomorrow. I won’t chew gum, make funny faces, get boisterous or act silly.”

The next morning, decked out in new dresses, hats, shoes and gloves, we went outside and waited beneath the glistening August sun in the clear, azure sky while Jim went to get the car.

Smiling, Kathy waited expectantly while her father backed the car out of the garage. Her smile turned to stunned amazement when he backed past us, entered the street and took off without her!

“Daddy! Daddy!” Kathy’s new shoes clomped against the sidewalk, and her curly hair bounced as she raced after his car, waving her arms and shouting, “Daddy, stop! Stop! You forgot us!”

She kept shouting until he disappeared around the corner. Tears streaked her cheeks as she sobbed and sulked back home. “How could Daddy pass by me when he knows what an important day this is?”

She had barely finished blubbering when her father pulled up to the curb and parked where we stood. “Sorry,” he sheepishly apologized. “I’m so used to backing out and heading for the office, I forgot we were going to a wedding!”

Without comment, Kathy climbed into the car, smoothed the folds of her dress, straightened her hat and dabbed at her eyes with a tissue. Her father’s efforts to engage her in conversation were met with sullen silence.

When we reached the church, Kathy quietly joined the bridal party, and her dad and I were escorted to a pew. When the organ music began, we glanced toward the back of the church where the nuptial entourage had assembled. Kathy looked radiant in her princess-style, rose taffeta dress that harmonized with the attendants’ gowns. Keeping perfect time to the music, she proceeded down the aisle carrying her flower basket. Smiling, she scattered multicolored rose petals onto the white runner.

“I sure hope my goof-up didn’t upset her too much,” my husband whispered as the procession strolled toward the altar.

Keeping time with the music, Kathy approached our pew. When her eyes met her father’s, her smile faded and her eyes glared at him. Scooping her hand into the flower basket, she cupped her fingers around fragile flora and tightened her grip as if clutching a baseball. Then she raised her hand and drew it back as if preparing to hurl a fastball. Her father tensed and held his breath. Still keeping time to the music, Kathy gracefully opened her fingers and tossed rose petals into the air. As some cascaded over her dad’s head, she winked, grinned mischievously and, without missing a beat, continued toward the altar.

Sally Kelly-Engeman

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