So… there’s this Google ad, called “Dear Sophie.” Set to a pleasant piece of piano music and the sound of typing keys, it shows a father writing emails to his daughter (the eponymous Sophie) from the time of her birth through some time around the announcement of her first Nobel Prize. He closes with a dramatic pause, and a simple – but moving – “Love, Dad.”
It’s a powerful piece of television. One that should make me feel all warm and squishy inside, overcome by my kinship with this father and his love for his brilliant and implausibly worldly daughter. Except that I hate him. I hate Sophie’s Fictional Dad because he sets the bar ridiculously high for the rest of us.
I mean, while SFD is teaching his daughter to snowboard, scuba dive, and initiate cold fusion, other dads (specifically, me) are struggling to get ours into bed before 9pm and keep the right number of clothes on them until then (at least while we’re at the mall). Until SFD and his :30 spot came along, I thought I deserved a little applause (and possibly a lovely piano soundtrack) just for managing to put Isabella’s legs through the right openings in her underwear, making up storylines for all the Barbies that don’t end up sounding like a porno, and almost keeping her from putting anything into a light socket. But while I was congratulating myself, Sophie’s Fictional Dad was teaching his daughter ballet and simultaneously documenting it for her much older self. Curse you, SFD! What real father can be expected not only to provide love, support, and generally adequate nutrition, but also write about it on a regular basis?
Well, for one, me. The reality is that Isabella is going to have to learn her snowboarding, scuba diving, and ballet dancing skills from professionals. I’m not going to be a lot of help with those. But what I can do reasonably well is write. And SFD has made me realize that writing is what I should have been doing all along.
As I look back through the extensive list of this blog’s previous posts (both of them), I realize I’ve learned a few things since the heady days of such classics as “Preview,” and “No News is…” For instance, I’ve learned that, once you actually have the kid, attending church does not make you part of a lovely little tableau in which future life lessons are learned against a backdrop of music and love. Instead, you spend your time in that holy place rationing out two bags of fruit snacks, quieting your child’s cries when she drops Clifford the Big Red Dog at the precise moment of the transubstantiation, and hoping against hope that if you sneak her a piece of the communion wafer, she’ll keep her trap shut until you make it back to the pew.
But I’ve learned some good things as well, and the lessons that really matter are the ones that have come directly from my daughter. I’ve learned that for some reason, our German Shepherd speaks French. I’ve learned that you have to save a lot of monies if you want to go to Paris – maybe even more than two. I’ve learned that tea tastes better when it’s made by a little princess in a wooden kitchen and served in a plastic cup with a face on it. And I’ve learned that there is absolutely no limit to how much I can love this little kid with the tangle of blond curls.
These are the things I should have been writing about all this time. So now it’s time to give it another go. After all, Isabella might meet up with this Sophie kid at some point. And we’re gonna need to show her dad who’s boss.