Thursday, June 15, 2017

Dear Dad: 5 Things Disney Taught Me About Being Your Daughter



Last month I sat in a nearly empty movie theater, popcorn in hand, filled with excitement to see the live-action remake of a tale as old as time. Walt Disney's Beauty and the Beast.

As the all-to-familiar score of one of my favorite films began and that classic, singular star flew over the Disney castle, I looked over at my movie companion lovingly. I grasped and squeezing their hand and laid my head on their shoulder, letting out a content sigh of happiness. For this was the perfect person to see this movie with.

I wasn't with a best friend. I wasn't with a best-Disney-friend (those exist). I wasn't with a boyfriend. I was with my dad

The Disney animated version of Beauty and the Beast was released in 1991. I was three years old. While I don't remember much about my early childhood years, I distinctly remember the sound of the movie's overture as it began and feeling the tops of my feet go nearly numb being pressed firmly into the carpet as I sat on my knees, most likely far too close to the TV. I'm told that I begged to watch the film over, and over, and over again.

I've grown to love many more Disney stories over the years. My poor, forgiving family has had to sit through far too many "my choice" movie-nights where I always pick the newest Disney/Pixar film to watch (even though I've most likely already seen it twice already).

Yet through the years and the countless Disney films that I've exposed my family to, my father has always had an especially soft spot in his heart for Beauty and the Beast. Why? Well it could be because my two sisters and brother cared far more for competing in sports than singing and dancing around the living room like I did. But I'd like to believe that our bond over Beauty and the Beast stems from the plot's special relationship of a daddy and his first daughter, which has played itself true in our own lives and continues to today.

It is a curious thing to look back at some of the most well-know Disney classics and notice the absence of a mother - or worse yet, a malicious mother-figure. But somehow most of our beloved princesses had the presence of a father, even if at some point they were the antagonist of the story. For me, these films were so much more than plastic, rectangular boxes that filled our VCR and my imagination with wondrous ideas and dreams. In a way, they helped me understand how the love of a daddy can be deep and complex, but something worth holding dear and fighting for. It is an ever unique and special relationship that changes as we age and one that my favorite childhood stories have certainly helped me understand.


Walt Disney reading to his daughters Diane and Sharon Mae


Dear Dad: 5 Things Disney Taught Me About Being Your Daughter



1. You secretly want me to be just like you. 


Queen Elinor: "A princess should not HAVE weapons, in my opinion." King Fergus: "Leave her be! Princess or not, learning to fight is essential."


My father grew up with two older brothers and two sisters, yet if you met him at his finest moments today, you might guess that sisters were never even in the mix. He has a humor that is boyish, charming, and cunning. While my dad didn't get a son until his fourth child, his first three princesses were already raised perfectly well-versed on how to carry out the perfect prank and to have the upmost appreciation for dry, British comedy.

I think I saw Monty Python and the Holy Grail for the first time when I was around eight years old. Twenty years and thousands of episodes of Monty Python's Flying Circus later, it is still completely second nature for me to crack up at any internet video of people falling, farting or being just plain silly. This all, of course, to the despise of my poor mother.

While our fathers may not directly intend to steer us down a path of likeness to him, as our daddy, he doesn't need to be anything but himself around us. And in doing so, his loves became our loves. It is as simple as that.

2. No One Knows Me Like You Do.


Maurice: "My dear Belle, you are so ahead of your time. This is a small village, and it's small minded, as well."


Like Belle, many of us went through a stage of life when we felt "odd." Whether we couldn't fit in with friends at school or just felt utterly misunderstood by everyone around us, sharing those feelings with our daddies probably caught them by surprise. Their daughter? Odd? For me, while others saw my personality differences as out-of-place, my dad admired them. To this day my father still knows my deepest loves and greatest skills and will call on me for assistance in time of need. These days is usually has something to do with his iPhone or computer. Good daddies love our brains, our books, and know that no matter how handsome a face, his daughter deserves a man with a heart like hers.   


3. We Won't Always See Eye To Eye. 


Chief Powhatan: "My daughter speaks with the wisdom beyond her years. We've all come here with anger in our hearts, but she comes with courage and understanding. From this day forward, if there is to be more killing, it will not start with me." 



Yeah. This one is a heartbreaker.

For as much as we love our fathers and all they have done for us, there comes the time that we have to make our own path and find faith to take our own leaps. As any daddy's girl might relate, disappointing our fathers is an unforgettable pain. He is the first man that ever loved us and all men in the future have big shoes to fill. As we get older and find wisdom beyond the safe haven of our father's guidance, we also get the amazing opportunity to show him that just because it is the way it was done before, doesn't make it right. His greatest hope for us is that we follow our arrow down the right path. When our arrows point in the direction of a path he does not yet know or understand, we get the pleasure of guiding him along the way.


4. Losing me is your absolute worst fear. 


Fa Zhou: "The greatest gift and honor... is having you for a daughter." 



I grew up with what I would consider pretty strict rules and expectations. I had to get good grades, be home before curfew, no boys allowed in my room, and I always was expected to perform to the best of my ability. I knew my father loved me, but I couldn't stand the thought of not living up to his expectations. Through the years, I climbed many walls and many posts just to prove to him I was worthy. In those times, I realize that I may have put my safety and my core values in danger, all in the reach to please him and make him proud of me.

The miracle of a father's love is that to the core it is unconditional. Whether we are decorated by royalty or stumble in the wake of our own mistakes, he will still love us. The place we hold as your daughter is held higher than any rank, status, or accomplishment.

5. The thing you wants most in the whole, wide world is to see me happy.


Sebastian: "Like I always say, Your Majesty, 'children have got to be free to lead their own lives.'" Triton: "You always say that, Sebastian?" Sebastian: [nervous] "Tee-hee." Triton: "Well I guess there's one problem left." Sebastian: "And what's that, Your Majesty?" 

Triton: "How much I'm going to miss her." 


Any daughter with a good daddy like mine knows that the stronger the relationship you have, the harder it is for them to let go, which can often lead to many emotions that can take time, acceptance, and forgiveness to heal; on both sides.

Life will lead you down great adventures that can put you miles and worlds away from your daddy's arms. Sometimes it even means being apart for a very long time. But the longer you remain persistent and passionate about where your life is taking you, the easier it will be for him to see your life through your eyes, and eventually soften his grip and let you swim away.

While most of us little girls grow out of our dress-up clothes, our baby dolls, or even our bows and arrows, canoes, and suits of armor, in his eyes we will always be our daddy's little princess. Because as I've truly come to learn, a real princess is one who follows her path with a fierce passion to make her impact on the world.

And whether he is fathoms below or miles away, we are always going to need our daddy right beside us. 

This post read and approved by my good friend Drizella and the greatest dad in the whole world. 

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