The barre vs. the boards

Unlike her parents, my daughter will choose a tutu over a hockey stick any day of the week

My daughter is the shining little princess in a house of people who wouldn't know a tiara from Tim Thomas.

Her mom is a bit of a Tomboy. She lives in jeans and sneakers and is a goaltender for the N.H. Sr. Lady Monarchs hockey team. She quoted Iron Maiden in her salutatorian speech at graduation and hasn't worn heels since “Alf” was on TV.

We always wondered if our daughter would follow in her mom's footsteps as she grew and formed her own likes, dislikes and interests.

Spoiler alert: Not so much.

Our daughter is a princess. A bonafide, dress-wearing, tea-party-having girlie-girl, which is great because she is her own person and that makes her a wonderful, happy individual.

Yet she had to find her way in a household of hockey fans and football fanatics. I never wanted to force her into specific interests. I don't have a strong preference as to what she does for activities, as long as she does something. We figured we'd show her different options and she could choose what appealed to her.

Of course, our influences did pop up from time to time. I came home one night with a New England Patriots onesie for her when she was a baby. It was long-underwear material with a little Patriot logo on the left chest. This was at the height of the team's dominance, so pretty much every piece of clothing in our house had a Pats' logo on it. Still, it just didn't look right on our little girl. I tried again when I bought her a little Boston Bruins track suit. I think she liked the way it made a “swish-swish” sound when she walked in it, but again it didn't really suit her.

That's when she started tap and ballet dance class and it all became clear. She was as home in a dainty tutu as my wife is in her armored goalie equipment. She'd prance around in her frilly dance clothes, trying on her tap shoes over and over and expressing her young emotions through surprisingly girlish expressions of dance.

I also took her to a “learn to play hockey” session at a rink in Exeter around the same time. This didn't go quite as well. First, when we went shopping to pick out a pair of skates, she kept pointing out pretty figure skates.

“No, no,” I said as I held up a tiny pair of black Bauer hockey skates. “You need these!”

She hit the ice in those skates, a borrowed helmet and a pair of hockey gloves. The coaches brought her out to center ice and for the next half-hour she struggled to get back to the boards so she could get off that slippery slab of danger as soon as possible. It was obvious pretty quickly that we weren't going to be spending weekend mornings in an ice cold rink complaining about the early hour over a steaming cup of cocoa with other hockey parents. This young child was not to be a hockey player, which, again, is perfectly fine. She is who she is and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Things got interesting when my daughter started to show an interest in fashion. Mainly because she lives with two parents who not only lack any enthusiasm about fancy clothing, but any talent in matching outfits whatsoever.

Here's the scary part – I'm a work-at-home dad so I'm quite often the last person who approves of what she's wearing before she heads out for school. I'm always questioning myself as I send my creative, talented, potentially hilariously dressed non-Tomboy out the door to class. And yet everyday she comes home and her mom is thoroughly impressed with what she chose to wear to school that day.

We didn't give birth to a hockey star, but someone is doing something right around here.

Bill Burke might not be the most fabulously fashionable writer who lives in southern N.H., but his wife and princess daughter think he's OK.

Categories: Dad on Board