By: Mary Fran Bontempo
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It’s really not his fault, poor guy: he was just so unprepared.

My husband is the kind of fellow who, despite coaching the sport for over thirty years, still studiously researches soccer books before beginning each new season with his college men’s team. He routinely consults at least a half dozen sources before making a business decision and he regularly enters the shore house for the weekend loaded down with supplies in an attempt to anticipate all needs of family and guests.

In other words, this is a man who likes to know what he’s up against.

Unfortunately for him (and most other males of the species), there is nothing in the known universe that can prepare a man for having and then raising, daughters.

Dave witnessed a younger brother’s stomach slashed open by a rusty nail when the latter was climbing a tree. He was both a contender and referee in fist fights with his three younger brothers and growing up, he was on the guest list multiple times at the local emergency room with his own assortment of broken bones.

But his world was completely upended by the appearance of first, Laura, twenty-four years ago, and then Meg, three years later.

The drama. The pathos. The general hysteria, whether over a missing hair ribbon or a missing boyfriend, was almost too much for him. During their teenage years, he would call from a parking spot down the street from our house and ask what the reading was on the “Dramameter” before he’d come home.

And it’s only gotten worse. While some of the commotion has died down (they don’t really cry over hair ribbons anymore), it’s been replaced by an entire roster of things Dave can’t get his head around.

Last week, my cell phone rang.

“Fran, I’m in Laura’s room trying to find a dress she asked me to bring her but I’m not seeing it,” Dave said.

“Look in the closet. It’s red and sort of scrunched up like it’s pleated,” I answered.

“Well, there’s a red thing hanging here, but it’s a shirt, not a dress.”

“No, that’s it. It’s a dress,” I sighed.

“What?! Are you kidding me? Where’s the rest of it? This thing looks like a handkerchief! Where the heck is she wearing this to?” Dave sputtered.

“To the casinos on Saturday,” I responded.

“Oh my god. I can’t take this. Why aren’t you doing something?”

“Dave, she’s twenty-four. I can’t dress her anymore,” I noted

He brought the dress. He just made sure he wasn’t home when she put it on.

A few days later, Laura entered the kitchen, a pained look on her face.

“What’s the matter?” her father asked.

“My shirt got caught on a drawer at work today and it almost yanked my belly button ring out of my stomach,” Laura replied.

Dave blanched. Minutes later, Meg slumped into the room, opening the fridge and reaching inside.

“What’s your story?” Dave asked our youngest.

“Work was a pain in the butt today. I need a beer,” she said, twisting the top off a cold bottle.

Dave sighed deeply, heading for the door.

“Dad, where are you going?” the girls asked in unison.

“I’m going to sit in my chair and dream about soccer season. Twenty-five knuckleheaded college boys don’t exhaust me as much as you two do,” Dave said. “And I’m pretty sure none of them has a belly button ring,” he added.

“Huh. That’s not what I heard,” Laura muttered.

“What?!” Dave barked.

The girls dissolved into giggles as Dave just shook his head, defeated, and left the room.

Like I said, the poor guy is completely unprepared.

Do you have any daddy/daughter stories? Click “comments” below, and share!