When I get home from work, it's a toss up as to whether or not my wife is completely worn out from being with our kids all day long. She stays at home with all of our kids, which is incredibly demanding.
It's a luxury for her to go to the grocery store alone. So as often as I can I take over all of the kid duties so she can enjoy some solitude.
One day after I got home from work, she went out to run some errands and I took my three kids to Barnes and Noble. They've got a pretty swanky kids section if you've never been.
After making our way to the back and getting settled in probably the germiest area of the store, we gathered some books to flip through.
So as they are looking around, some other young girl, probably 5 or 6 years old, comes and sits awkwardly close to me and starts loud commentary on her book directed at me. "Oh my goodness, look at that princess' hair!" she says to me as she scoots closer.
Now I'm all about being friendly and I love kids, but I didn't want this little girl to get the impression that it's ok to sit beside strange men and get all super friendly with them. So I try to be nice, but casually get up and move closer to my kids.
This little girl, with super cute blonde hair and dimples, follows me over to my new spot a few benches over. But instead of sitting next to me, she tries to sit in my lap! This is obviously something that just can't happen, so I say, "No, no, why don't you sit over here?" pointing to a nearby spot. "Oh, ok," she says as she moves over to a seat that isn't already taken.
But she is still talking to me more than I'm comfortable with. Not because I mind talking to her, but because I'm a grown man and she is a small child - this is not a good habit for her to learn. It would be different if her mom or dad was sitting there too, but no one was nearby.
At this point I'm looking around to spot who she is with and why they aren't watching her more closely. I finally see her mom and as I suspected, didn't see a wedding ring. This little girl was desperate for my attention. She was desperate for attention from a man.
Soon I moved to another chair where she couldn't possibly sit by me. This little girl then starts doing ballerina twirls and such, flinging her arms inches from my face, desperate to peel my attention from the book I was flipping through.
My heart was slowly breaking for her. As a father I want my children to know how much I cherish them and love them - how valuable they are to me.
Here is this little girl using every tactic she knows to try and win me over. I suppressed my fatherly instincts, knowing that this girl doesn't need a strange man's attention, she needs her father's.
She stops dancing to go look at another book. She says, "I wish miracles were real... I just really wish they were real." She goes on to say, "I just don't think it's going to work out with my mom and my dad in Texas." My heart continued to break for her.
I have two boys and a daughter of my own and it's funny how my daughter wants my attention in a very different way than my boys. She loves being lavished with attention, to be told she is beautiful, and that her outfit is so pretty. She thrives on that attention.
To see this other little girl in a book store, hoping to be noticed by a strange man, gives me a serious reality check. My daughter needs me more than I can imagine. Someone to protect her, to love her, to be there for her and tell her how beautiful she is. She is desperate for her father's love.
Do you have a daughter? She desperately needs your love and attention. Give it to her.