Be held and snuggled by someone terrified to drop or squish you. As you get bigger, get held more, snuggled tighter, and tossed into the air a bit higher each year. Learn how to walk and then run by chasing him around the kitchen. When you get exhausted, fall asleep on his stomach and chest, sprawled across him like your own personal mattress.
Wake up for more chasing, play-wrestling, and tickling until you can’t breath. Make an “ahhh” sound so he can jiggle your cheeks up and down and you both will laugh at the funnier “ahAhahAhahAh” sound. When you learn how to read, you guys can read some books together before bed, he’ll be patient with helping you sound out words but you like his reading voice better.
Get to sit on his lap as he drives down to the mailbox or while on the tractor or lawn mower. He’ll let you steer sometimes too as you get bigger! When you learn how to ride a bike, he’s going to let go of it before you’re ready…but you trust him and he knows better than you when you’re really ready. Soon after you get the hang of it, he’ll teach you how to ride without any hands…while flying downhill…on a dirt road. He will teach you to be fearless and brave and you’ll always feel safe around him.
Play in the fort he built you in the woods and get pushed (almost too high) on the swing-set he put up. He’ll make you finish your math worksheets before dinner and then eat all the food on your plate…but he’ll make you a giant chocolate ice cream sundae with cookies and a scoop of peanut butter on the side too.
Once you’re in middle school, think you’re too cool but still think your dad is the coolest. Go for rides in his Jeep with the top off and no doors on and scream-sing along to the Alanis Morissette and Jimmy Buffett CDs as you drive around.
Be forced into your “first job” of helping him cut lawns in the summer and plow driveways in the winter. If you’re the youngest sibling, get stuck with the boring jobs like power-blowing grass cuttings off sidewalks and shoveling the worst parts of the front porches. Secretly enjoy him trying to make you laugh and cheer you up because you dread having to do these chores…but also know that you owe it to him because of how hard he works to let you do a lot of other cool things. If you crack enough of a smile, he’ll probably buy you a doughnut when you stop for gas.
You might even get to drive a lawn mower on your own now too and he’ll even get you a 4-wheeler that you guys can race around the yard. Go on fun rides through trails and when you get nervous about going through rough terrain, he’ll talk you through it and teach you how, making you confident in your abilities to get through a tough situation.
During high school, he will build you a basketball hoop along the garage so you can practice to make the Varsity team. Miss shots and he’ll pass you the rebounds and when you start getting frustrated he’ll make you laugh by putting you at the butt of his joke. High School is a tough time with a lot of failures, but he’ll teach you how to laugh at yourself.
He’ll be in the stands with your mom and grandparents at every sporting event, giving you the secret hand signal (shaking your hand with a thumb & pinky out) to be cool and have fun. After a tough loss, he’ll want to talk about why it happened and how to improve for next time but he’ll leave it at that and help you move forward and focus on the next game.
On Friday nights, he’ll disapprove of what you want to wear to the dance even though all the other girls wear the same, or worse! But he just wants you to respect yourself and be respected, learn and appreciate that from him.
Get a boyfriend, regardless of who it is within the next 4 years he probably won’t like him (and most likely for good reason). Break up with boyfriends and have him always there for you to tell you it’s just a boy, you’ll be fine, and get a big hug from him. Be reminded that he’s the best man you know and raise your standards to mirror the kind of hard-working, committed, caring person he is.
When you turn 16, he’ll teach you more about how to drive a car. You’ll get your first car and he’ll teach you how to take care of it; how to change the oil, check the engine, and rotate the tires. Now you can drive the Jeep with him and the scream-singing needs to tone down a little because he’ll make you pay attention to the road so you’re a smart, safe driver.
When you decide on a college that’s pretty far away, consider if you’ll be okay being away from your best friends…he’ll convince you that they’re great friends and will always be there for you, but you also meant him. He’ll always support and believe in you and encourage you to do what scares you.
Miss your family when you’re away from college but also have fun on your own, knowing he taught you well about being independent and taking care of yourself. Get texts from him randomly asking “are you alive” because he’ll be thinking of you but will never admit he misses you ;). When you’re home from college, he’ll invite you to do those old chores with him or fix up your car and you’ll be more willing to help out now because you miss spending that time with him.
Graduate college with a job offer because he made you be ambitious and proactive about finding a way to support yourself and go off on your own. Your parents will take you to a new city and help you look for an apartment and be quick to decide whether an area was safe or good enough for you, and when you don’t find one that weekend, they kind of just leave you with your packed car in a parking lot because they have to drive back home. Mom will be crying a lot but Dad will believe in you because he knows he taught you well. “It’ll all work out” he’ll say as he laughs at you for crying and gives you a big hug.
Figure it out and appreciate them for the less-than-gentle push to go out on your own and get your life started. When something needs fixing, call him for help and he’ll teach you exactly how to do it on your own. Realize how grateful you are for everything he taught you while growing up and the qualities he instilled in you to be an independent, tough, strong, determined, confident girl. When your birthday comes around and you have no plans, he’ll drive 9 hours to see you for one day to enjoy birthday-pizza and quality time together before driving 9 hours back home again. Whenever you get to go back home, he’ll be always happy to see you and he’ll be interested in learning about the life you’re establishing.
And when you still have a bunch of growing, learning, and living to do still, know that you’re in good hands no matter how far away he is. Know that you can always count on him to be there for you and look forward to all the lessons he has yet to teach you about the world, life, sacrifices, and love.