Last night was the Daddy Daughter Dance at the Gagie school where our kids attend preschool.
I had a wonderful evening with our little man, racing cars, which basically meant shooting them under the sofa (oh those poor wooden floors!) and snuggling on the sofa watching the Cars movie and eating lollipops (suckers for my US friends).
All dressed up and ready for her date.
What a good looking couple.
I shall hand over to Jeremy to tell you all about his evening with our beautiful daughter....
I can remember clearly sitting in Trafford General Hospital in Manchester, sitting in the chair in a small room, holding a few day old Charlotte in my arms whilst her mummy had some rest. As Charlotte slept it was the first moment I really remember envisaging all the things that I might do now I had a daughter. I remember whispering in her ear that one day her daddy would take her dancing.
Well, about four and a half years later that really came true. Ruth told me that Charlotte's school were having a "daddy-daughter dance". I had no real idea of what to expect, but like everything about living in a new country you just have to seize every opportunity.
We'd been told to think of it like a 'prom'. Not so easy given my knowledge of proms extended to watching 'Back to the Future" and "There's something about Mary'. Thankfully Ruth, through her network of 'moms' had found out the essential information. Dress smart - tux would be just right. Buy your daughter a corsage (what's that?! I hear any men reading this ask - a flower bouquet she wears on her wrist).
So, I dressed up in my best (only) tux with a white bow tie as Charlotte had said she wanted daddy to look like he did when he married mummy. I even wore the cufflinks from our wedding day. When I walked down the stairs and saw Charlotte I felt quite overwhelmed with emotion. I felt an instant connection between the amazing day I married my beautiful wife, that moment in hospital when I had promised to take Charlotte dancing and the present; standing with my beautiful daughter, her face bright with joy, happiness and excitement. I could not have felt more proud.
When we arrived we were quite early, in fact the very first people to walk in. We paid on the door and walked into the gym which had been utterly transformed from a basketball court into "an enchanted evening". Charlotte and I held hands as we walked under an arch of blue, green and purple balloons and into the centre of the room which was filled with lights and hearts. For a moment as I saw the "enchanted evening" banners I recalled watching Back to the Future and the "enchantment under the sea dance". This was a moment for me to experience something of what it is like to go to school in America - and most importantly to share a very special evening with my daughter.
Slowly but surely the room filled with slightly uncomfortable men in suits and tuxes - all walking in a lopsided way as they held hands with their much shorter daughters. Old men, young men, trendy men, traditional men - it did not matter - they were there for the same reason as me. To have that time with their daughter. Or daughters! A friend of ours called Chadd arrived with his two daughters so he had his hands full - I guess by now he is used to that. Another friend Jim was there with his daughter.
We had our picture professionally taken (can't wait to see that!) and then loaded up on sugary cakes and snacks - a lot of dancing was to come. Then the DJ announced that whenever he mentioned an 'enchanted dance' the girls had to bring their dads onto the dance floor and dance together.
Every time an enchanted dance came on Charlotte would hold my hand and rush to the side of the dance floor where all the lights were - she loved the mirror ball and another reflection which made the ceiling look like a moon and stars. I remember looking down at her and seeing her staring at the ceiling as we danced, those beautiful brown eyes just like her mum's. I span her, she danced around me, we promenaded and eventually, as she (and I) got tired I lifter her up and danced with her in my arms. Could any father ask for any more?
Charlotte also had many special moments with her friends. She would grab her friends hands, give them a huge hug and they would run onto the dance floor. Every so often she would look back over her shoulder to check I was there watching over her. I know it won't be too many years before she just runs off - but in that moment I felt so very close to her. I was proud of the way she looked out for her friends - always encouraging anyone on the sidelines. Concerned to see that all of her friends were happy - very much like her mum.
As the evening drew on the men got more and more relaxed, helped no doubt by the mandatory birdie song and conga (where you had to find your daughter and join the conga in action). As Charlotte began to suck her thumb (along with many other of the preschool girls) the DJ helpfully announced that there would be a free balloon for each girl to take home. That was the perfect cue for Charlotte to announce she was ready to head home. We walked out into the cold, dark night hand in hand.
I could not have asked for a more perfect time with Charlotte. Life goes buy so quickly it was amazing to have a moment in time to really acknowledge just how special it is to be a dad and how very proud I am of her. I hope in years to come to have more moments like these and I will do everything I can to be the best father I can possibly be. But whatever the future holds this enchanted evening was one I will treasure forever.