Test Daughter

Test Daughter.  That’s what she calls herself when asked about our relationship.

I worked with her dad and met her when I came by their house to help her dad move some stuff from a pickup truck.  She was 6 years old.

It was one of those relationships that just kind of grew–both with her and her parents.  Our families call her dad and I “the other half of each others’ brain”. I was at their house a few times a week and I slowly, unknowingly, became her 2nd dad.

She had a very strong, “just because I’m a girl, doesn’t mean I can’t do stuff” attitude that I thought was wonderful.  I clearly remember two things from then.  One was that when the time came, I wouldn’t mind having a daughter like her and the other was me grumbling at her dad when he called her ‘my son’.   “No.  She’s your daughter.  Just because she likes boy stuff doesn’t make her a boy.  Girls can like boy stuff.”

When she was a teenager, she told me that one comment was what cemented our hearts together.  I didn’t realize that she had heard the exchange, nor at the time did I think it that important.

Even though she had figured out I was her 2nd dad at age 6, it took me 2 more years to figure it out.  She was 8 when she took her dad and I over to meet her little league coach.  “Coach Kim.  This is my dad and this is my 2nd dad. I have two dads.”   Her coach gave the three of us a faint smile before running off…and I felt HONORED.

Since I was trusted and not living there, it was often easier for her to ask me the “AWKWARD” questions.  I answered them truthfully and honestly, even when I was wanting to run and hide.  Later she said that my matter of fact answers and return questions did much to keep her “out of trouble”.

She and her dad have very similar (impatient) personalities and often clashed during the “teaching moments”.  While her dad taught her how to drive, the personality clash was making it a problem for her learning how to parallel park and use a manual transmission car.   So, I got to do both of those things.  It took her 10 minutes to master parallel parking and another hour for her to learn how to parallel park a car with an attached trailer.  She still shows off that trailer parking skill and taught her husband how to do it as well.  For the manual transmission, I kind of “got even” by borrowing a friend’s 1948 truck with a non-synchronized gear manual transmission (double clutching).  But she showed me.  It took her a couple of hours to not stall the engine when starting out, another hour or two to not give us whiplash and another day to not grind the gears when shifting.

She liked that truck so much that it is the one she used for her driving test.   She called me after taking the test and said her test lasted only 5 minutes, but she passed.  Her dad was laughing and said her wanting to use that truck for the test was a stroke of genius.  Apparently the driving test administrator got into the truck, realized it was 110F and the truck had no air conditioning, asked her why she was double clutching the transmission, had her pull out from one parking lot entrance onto the roadway, made a comment about the perfect shifting and immediately had her pull back into the other parking lot entrance…and announced she had passed.

A year later, some (fortunately it was a false positive) medical tests indicated her dad had a fatal disease.  It took two weeks for the more accurate final test results to come back and, like I said, the initial results were incorrect.  I was pretty upset at the prospect of losing my best friend and his daughter, in tears, came to me, “If dad can’t give me away at my wedding, would you?”. Just like with the 2 dad’s comment, I felt so amazingly honored. Fortunately I did not need to fulfill this role.

When she was 24, I was the 5th person to find out about her engagement…herself, her fiancee,  her mom and dad, and finally me.  At her wedding there was the mother-son and father-daughter dances.  Next, the DJ started going through the father daughter dance part again.  I, and everyone else,  was looking around, confused, wondering how the DJ had managed to mess things up so much.  At this point, I realized she was walking toward me and extended her hand to me.  I, too, got a father-daughter dance.

While we danced, I reminded her of my and her dad’s comment about the quarter.  “If you’re on a date and he wants to do something that you’re not quite sure about, give him the quarter and have him call your dad, or me and we can talk about it.”  We hatched a plan.

After the 2nd father daughter dance, someone asked her about the 2nd dance.

He was just as annoying and protective of me as my dad .  He was my 2nd dad and I was his test daughter…like he was testing the waters to see if he wanted one of his own…that if he changed his mind, he could give me back.

Oh, the plan we hatched.  That evening, after the reception, my wife and I and my own daughter were sitting with her parents and reliving the memories.  The phone rings.  It’s her.  “Dad.  I gave Mark the quarter so he could call you.  He wants to talk to you.”  Her dad laughed and hung up the telephone.

Happy 40th birthday, test daughter.  You have an awesome husband and your boys are awesome too.

By the way, the test worked out perfectly.  My daughter is much like you..and I could not be more happy.


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