I really miss those Father/Daughter dances

All through elementary school, E and Z went to annual, magical Father/Daughter dances together.

They started going to dances together in kindergarten and stopped when she was in fourth grade (I’m sure they would have gone in fifth grade too, but alas, Covid stopped the dances).

That’s five years of sending my two favorite people off to Father/Daughter dances together.

I don’t know if I truly appreciated how special those grade school dances were until recently when Z was getting ready to attend her first middle school dance. That’s when I realized, wait a minute – our daughter goes to dances with friends and boys now. The days of those special Father/Daughter dances are over!

And even though I never got to go to any of their dances myself, it made me nostalgic. I will really miss them.

You see, although I never attended a Father/Daughter dance with my dynamic duo, I was always part of the planning and details. I got to shop with Z for dresses, and sometimes even shop for E so he had a coordinating shirt or tie.

I got to take Z to get her hair and nails done. Sometimes, if they were feeling extra fancy, E would even get a flower corsage to give to Z.

My two favorite people did a very good job of making me feel included – and of posing adorably for my camera – before they headed out to each big dance.

I remember all of Z’s dresses and E’s coordinating looks. Z was usually in traditional dresses and E in a suit, but a couple of times they went to Girl Scout dances with a theme.

Once they wore 50s attire for a sock hop, and once they did matching Hawaiian-style attire for a luau-themed dance!

If it seems like I was obsessed with these Father/Daughter dances, that’s pretty accurate. I adored them. I think I lived vicariously through them.

When I was a kid, I never got to go to a dance with my father. That just wasn’t his jam. In fact, the one time I did attend a Father/Daughter dance, it was on the arm of a friend’s dad who graciously squired us both.

Don’t feel too bad for me, though – a few years later when I was 15, my dad did request my song (“Lara’s Theme” from Dr. Zhivago) and ask me to dance in a cruise ship ballroom. Trust me, anytime a dad asks his daughter to dance, core memories are made.

So all of those Olentangy Father/Daughter dances that E and Z went to together? They were core memories for Z, plus felt like a missing piece of my own childhood falling beautifully into place.

Each time I watched E and Z smile lovingly at each other and head out bedecked in all their finery – and every time they bemusedly agreed to waltz together around our foyer so I could take videos – my heart felt like it could explode with happiness.

The good news is that I got to have that happy, heart-exploding feeling again recently before Z’s first middle school dance. Z realized that this was her first time going to a school dance without her dad, so she went out of her way to make a big deal of E.

“Will you put on a suit so we can dance together and take pictures before my big dance, Daddy?” she asked. And then, “will you also take me to my dance in the Hellcat like you always used to?”

I’m sure these requests made E feel like a million bucks.

Sure enough, on the night of her big middle school dance – her first dance ever without her dad at her side – E put on his best suit to pose with her, take pictures together and even waltz around our foyer just like old times. I kept it together somehow, but my heart was exploding with joy at the sight of them.

They even let me tag along in the backseat of the Hellcat when he dropped her off. I gasped and blinked back more tears when he got out of the car to walk around and open her door for her. You should have seen the dazzling, beaming smile she gave him just before she happily ran off to dance the night away with her friends.

That first middle school dance was a huge success, and I expect there will be many more. One thing I know: I can’t imagine Z will ever go to a dance – including Homecoming and Prom when she’s all grown up and in high school – without the warm, wonderful memories of these early dances with her daddy at her side.

And now if you need me, I’ll be watching my old Father/Daughter dance videos and sobbing happily into my Diet Pepsi.

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About the author

Proud and loving midlife mama. Lucky and devoted wife. Dog, cat and snake mom. Travel nut. Natural born writer. PR and social media pro by day - tattoo doula by night.
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