Surfer Girl

2 Jul

letter every once in a while when we were kids, my dad used to crank up his old man music and do his own version of the DorkDaddy thing. Usually it was either folk music from the Kingston Trio, or The Beach Boys – turned up loud enough to make the dog leave the room. I do the same thing to my kids today, only these days the “old man music” is Def Leppard and Bon Jovi.

30 years ago when the Beach Boys album was pumpin’ and the dog was hiding under the bed, “Surfer Girl” would come on and my dad would swoop up one (or both) of my little sisters. He’d put them on his toes and dance with them in his arms, singing the lyrics (falsetto and all) as if the song was written just for them.

Ever since she was in Jr. High, my baby sister always maintained that whenever she got married and it came time for the father/daughter dance, it was going to be to “Surfer Girl”. I don’t know that my father ever heard of her plan – he might have. But the plan might also have been one of those conversations between siblings that we all remembered and just never brought up again.

In any case, that day finally came this weekend. My baby sister got married. Episode IV got to be the flower girl and Episode V got to be the (Lord of the) ring bearer(s). Episode VI was still too little for an official part in the ceremony, but he was listed in the program anyway as “Cutie-patootie” and got to walk his Booboo down the aisle along with his equally adorable cousin. As it was he managed to steal his share of thunder when he finally decided he was finished with being a crawler and wanted to be a walker – at the rehearsal dinner – around a pool!

The Lord of the Ring Bearers and Cutie Patootie

The Lord of the Ring Bearers and Cutie Patootie

The ceremony went off without a hitch – perfect weather, no major SNAFU’s. The party moved on to the reception where there could be found all the typical wedding traditions: speeches from the Best Man and Matron of Honor, cake cutting, toasts, yadda, yadda…

The star of the wedding, and the bride.

The star of the wedding, and the bride.

When most of the guests were done eating, it was time to dance. As expected, the bride and groom got the first dance to the song of their choosing, with all the requisite “awww”s and camera-phone shots from the guests you would expect. Dance/smooch/hug, dance/smooch/hug. Typical wedding fare. The dance ended to the applause of the guests.

And then it happened…

That baritone scale progression, followed by the lilting falsetto melody – so familiar it’s practically written into my family’s DNA, “Surfer Girl” started up as the DJ announced that it was time for the father/daughter dance. My dad lost it. My sister lost it. All the guests in the room lost it. And that one moment that my sister had been planning since Jr. High finally came true. She was dancing with her daddy to the perfect song after the perfect day.

Father/daughter dance.

Father/daughter dance.


It is a strange quirk of life that I tend to look at these things through the lens of fatherhood these days, rather than as a brother, or a husband, or even just plain old me. The last time I watched my father in a father/daughter dance at my sister’s wedding, I didn’t have a daughter myself. Things are different now. This weekend I didn’t see my baby sister up there dancing with her daddy, I saw a father having his last dance with his last child, his youngest daughter, his little baby (surfer) girl. I saw that awful, inevitable, inescapable moment where a father has to finally admit that although she may have been a grownup for years and years, his little girl is no longer his. In moments like those, your mind starts to wander.

I have a daughter.

I have a daughter I love so much it hurts. I have a daughter I love so much, sometimes I lose it just looking at her pictures on my screensaver. I have a daughter who’s growing up the way daughters do. At every major life event I see the girl going off to the first day of kindergarten, or the little girl riding her bike for the first time, or the little girl who mastered reading in a week, or the flower girl at my sister’s wedding… but I also see that little baby, only seconds old, that I held in my hands. I walked her to school on her first day of kindergarten. I ran behind the bike, steadying it as she found her balance. I helped her sound out the hard words. I painted her fingers and toes to match her dress for the wedding…

nails ala DorkDaddy

nails ala DorkDaddy

Sometimes all I can see is that little, newborn baby daughter.

Someday that daughter may want to get married.

Someday she may have a wedding, with a dress and a flower girl and a reception and everything.

At that reception there will very likely be dancing.

Before the dancing there will likely be a father/daughter dance.

She will walk up to me, after dancing with her husband, and take my hand to lead me to the dance floor.

What song will she pick?

Of course I know what song she’ll pick. We have a song. It’s our song. We will dance to our song and I will have to admit to myself that she is no longer mine, and I will totally lose it.


I know what you’re thinking right now. You’re thinking “Holy crap, man. Your daughter is seven. You’ve got DECADES before you have to worry about that sort of thing. Get a grip.”

You’re right, you’re right. I know you’re right. But this is what it means to love a little person so much you’d swear your heart will explode. This is what it means to look down in silence at your sleeping baby, filled with panic at how fast it’s all gone by and with terror at what is to come. This is what it means to be the father of a daughter.

Game. Set. Match. FML

Game. Set. Match. FML

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go back into the office and give myself oxygen for the next 23 years.

-Dork Dad

surfer girl

22 Responses to “Surfer Girl”

  1. Anonymous July 2, 2013 at 10:53 am #

    Even makes me sentimental…

  2. larva225 July 2, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    Damn you for writing such sappy sweet stuff while I’m at the office, afraid to tear up in front of people.

  3. Mother of the Bride July 2, 2013 at 10:57 am #

    Oh gosh….again with my water works.

  4. Marshall July 2, 2013 at 11:08 am #

    As a member of “Daddies with Daughters, Suckers for Life,” I applaud your post. I will also admit that the thought of dancing with my own daughter at her (sometime in the far, far, FAR) future wedding scares and thrills the heck out of me. Thanks for keeping up your blog, my friend.

  5. Jennie O July 2, 2013 at 11:10 am #

    Yep, this one left me in tears. Thanks a lot, Sammy. And super congrats again to the Surfer Girl!

  6. Catherine Besk July 2, 2013 at 11:25 am #

    Now I’m sobbing, and I have to get back to packing. Oh man, this was good stuff.

  7. Father of Dork July 2, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

    Thanks Sam

  8. Father of Dork July 2, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

    Thanks Sam, Dad

  9. Kami Tilby July 2, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

    Nicely done. Those years whoosh by faster than you can imagine. My youngest daughter ties the knot in a week…where did life go?

  10. Escaping Elegance July 2, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

    Beyond sweet!

  11. Kat (@kathym425) July 2, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

    Ah man, you made me cry! That’s a beautiful post and one that I’m sure every father can relate to. Congratulations to your sister.

  12. Isabella's Mum July 3, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

    This brought a tear to my eye! I live 12000 miles away from my daddy (he is in Australia and I am in the UK) and it has made me miss him even more. Luckily I can see my little girl having the same loving, warm and amazing bond with her daddy. Simply beautiful post!

    • dorkdad July 3, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

      Call him. Call him right now. Tell him you love him. You’ll make his day.

      • Isabella's Mum July 11, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

        Actually I reblogged your blog on this and then dedicated it to him on Facebook (and linked him in) – he was right chuffed as they say in England. Said he is now listening to the 60s music we listened to together with my niece and reading your post brought a tear to his eye too 🙂

      • dorkdad July 11, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

        I’ll add that merit badge to my superhero uniform.

  13. Isabella's Mum July 3, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    Reblogged this on Isabella's Mum and commented:
    A beautiful post about a daddy’s bond with his daughter. Something I can see every day building between Isabella and her daddy. Seems to be universal that special bond between daddy and daughter. I know I loved listening to old 60s tunes with my dad too 🙂

  14. mikemeader July 11, 2013 at 2:19 am #

    Reblogged this on Am I Nuts? and commented:
    A touching story that hit me right in the feels.

  15. July 12, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

    Sweet stuff here. Congrats to your sister and her new husband.
    Bon Jovi and Def Leopard are old man music – makes me feel old.

  16. 26dot2withToddler July 15, 2013 at 10:01 pm #

    Great story about your sister. I too LOVE that song. I think the first ‘single’ (back in the day when they existed) my older brother even received was the Beach Boys’ Sloop John B. I was about 6 and fell heard for their angelic harmonies, and a fan every day since.

  17. bongcomb July 17, 2013 at 12:19 pm #

    You teared me up!!!!!! I am a daddy’s girl too!

  18. Jim Mullen July 31, 2013 at 9:50 am #

    As a dad who is 3 weeks away from dropping off his baby girl at college, I will implore you to ignore what “those people” are telling you. Enjoy every second of every minute like it is your last. I’ve lived my life with my daughter as if this day would come impossibly quicker than I could ever imagine….and it’s come quicker than that! Enjoy these precious days like the vapor they are. But you knew that. 🙂

    • dorkdad July 31, 2013 at 9:52 am #

      Thanks, Jim. I do, every single day.

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