Dancing with Allie

Dear Allie,

Allie and Darrin at the 2015 World Series Parade.

“Do You Believe in Magic?” I do. (What I cannot believe is that you are 16 today. Where has the time gone?)

Also, I cannot believe that I am one of those people who always wonders where the time has gone. When I wore a younger man’s clothes, I promised myself that when I grew older I wouldn’t say “back when I was a kid” and “I remember when” and “where has the time gone.” But I do say those things. And I am saying them now to you. And as our youngest child with a sister off at college, you get to hear it all the time now.

But yes, I do believe in magic. For one thing, “Do You Believe in Magic” was the song played during our first Father/Daughter dance routine. I know you were petrified about how I was going to act — and how I was going to dance – in front of all those people in the Lee’s Summit High School auditorium.  (And you were right to be worried about my dancing!)

Allie, who can dance, with her dad, who can’t.

And I believe in magic because it is magic – a miracle – that you have any ability to dance at all. For though I am a proud Dance Dad (not as hard of work as being a Dance Mom … but still hard work) I. Cannot. Dance. Period. But miracles happen, and you have worked so hard at it, and you are able to dance, and I love that you can do something that you love so much.

I believe that, as my Darling Dance Daughter celebrates her birthday, I can reflect back on your 16 years (where in the hell did the time go?) as a wonderful daughter.

I believe I know exactly the moment that it became clear that dancing was your future. One year, you decided to give soccer a chance. You were pretty good at it, too. But I remember the moment when a boy on the other team blasted a shot off your leg. And I remember the look on your face that said, “That will be the last time I am standing on some goat pasture getting kicked by a ball on one of the legs I dance with.” With that kick, that first soccer season was also your last and you became a former soccer player and a full-time dancer.

The “Wannabe” sign worked in getting Ms. Andrews’s attention.

I remember your early interest in Mizzou sports. Early on, a lot of it had to do with watching the cheerleaders and Golden Girls. But you also knew a lot about the football and basketball teams, and we have always enjoyed great trips to games and Homecoming and GameDay and parades and House Decs and Bowl games.

I remember your interest in ESPN College GameDay, especially the segments with Erin Andrews. When Game Day came to Columbia in 2010, you made a sign for Erin: “Mizzou J-School and Erin Andrews Wannabe.” I was hoping beyond hope that you would get to meet her, but it looked grim for most of the morning.

Allie, Abbey and Erin Andrews

I could not believe when we finally positioned ourselves in the perfect spot after GameDay was off the air and I heard Ms. Andrews, as she was meeting-and-greeting sponsors, read your sign aloud and head straight to you to chat for a moment, autograph your sign, and pause for a photo. I was so happy for you.

I don’t know when it was, exactly, but you kind of became a Daddy’s Girl. Mom spent a lot of time with you, helping with backstage dance stuff and hair and makeup and all the things dads can’t do. And I was often running your sister around to soccer fields all over the Midwest. And you are more liberal, while I am more conservative. And you can dance, and I can’t. And I like barbecue ribs and spicy food and you don’t. And you like high school boys, and I don’t like high school boys. But you somehow became a Daddy’s Girl. And I love that about you.

I believe you have a great high school career ahead of you. Your grades are awesome. Your teachers spoke so highly of you during our recent parent/teacher conferences. You do a great job on the Touch of Silver Dance Team and Heart of America Youth Ballet. I can’t wait to see where you go from here. I am proud of you.

I believe you will do great in journalism school, or whichever major you choose at Mizzou or Arizona State or some other warm place (hey, we better get some visits planned!). Whether you become a sideline reporter or writer — or whatever field you choose — you’ll do great. And I’ll be proud of you, just like I have been for your first 16 years.

So, yes, I believe in magic. And I believe in Daddy’s girls. And I believe in dance, and sideline reporting, and Instagramming, and attending college at your parents’ alma mater, or maybe going someplace warm for school. And I believe in you.

Happy 16th Birthday!