“Fran’s fondest memory of time spent with her dad is of when he took her on her first boat ride in the bay. As they leaned on the railing, wind in their hair, watching the waves roll past and the sun approaching the horizon, she pointed forward and announced she had just spotted a mermaid.
Her dad laughed, scanned the horizon and said he wished he had seen it, too. Once back at the marina, they sat at an outdoor table eating dessert and talked until the sun slipped into the ocean.
Although dad told Fran much during that evening and the many like it that followed, he never told her there really weren’t such things as mermaids. It was her youthful innocence that he treasured, and he hoped to hold on to it just a bit longer.”
I remember well how much I hoped to save my oldest daughter from the great cruelties of life, especially the heartache and disappointment of young love. I now have those same worries with the youngest woman in my life as she begins to show an interest in boys.
And relationships are only the start of a long list of all things dads fear when thinking about the wellbeing of their children.
But the truth is dads should never save their children from the experiences of life: a child protected from life’s aches and pains is a child not permitted to grow up, a child unprepared for living when Dad is no longer able to provide shelter and rescue. Yes, a dad’s role is to protect, but also to prepare, and a child cannot become fully prepared when kept beneath the wing.
A mermaid is at her most beautiful when allowed to swim confident and free in the open sea. I have one beautiful mermaid out in the ocean blue, exploring the world at her leisure, on her own terms. I have a second mermaid on the way. She too will stumble and fall, and then one day she too will set out on her own, able and sure; I will make certain of it.