My First Father-Daughter Dance With My Daughter With a Disability


This past weekend was my daughter Namine’s dance recital. I was up on stage with her in the father-daughter dance, and I absolutely loved it. I quickly realized that mine was not the only attitude, however.

I was surprised to discover that not all the fathers involved felt the way I did. Some seemed to view it as tedium; something they had to do for one reason or another. I myself loved every bit of it — even the practices — but the most animated response I ever saw was a dad saying, “That wasn’t too bad.”

Coming out of the finale after Sunday’s recital, I, like many other dads, had taken off my golden crown and cape. I folded the cape and put it into my pocket — I was wearing cargo shorts, so plenty of room there — and held onto the crown. Another dad passed me in the hallway, and hardly looking at all, tossed his costume pieces in a garbage can.

I was aghast. Not that I ever plan to use the costume again (although Namine already has plans for the golden cape), but I would never have thrown it away. I suppose it’s just my sentimentality, but to me objects hold memories. And not only that, this was my first father-daughter dance with Namine. There will be more, of that I’m sure, but this first will always be special to me.

When seeing the nonchalant attitude some of these fathers took with regard to the dance, I could only think of the life we’ve had to get to this point.

Namine’s infancy was difficult — terrifying, even. She almost died. She needed surgery after surgery after surgery. Doctors warned caution, because she might not live very long — and they had good reason to worry. Complications can arise after even one surgery — and Namine had three on her heart alone.

I want to cherish every moment with Namine because even though she’s healthy and active, I don’t know what the future might bring. I’m not afraid for her; I just want her to know I love her. I don’t want to just go through the motions, just say the words. I want to banish all doubt from her mind, and prove to her in everything I do that I love her. Even if it means wearing a silly crown and cape for her — or maybe especially if it means wearing a cape for her — I will do it gladly because I love my daughter, my Namine.

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