Being goofy allows you to wade into akward conversations with ease.
My daughter shuffled into the kitchen and stomped her foot on the wood floor, officially challenging me to a dance battle. She waited for my reply with her hands on her hips.
There are a lot of things I wouldn't have been too keen to do before having children. Dancing was one of them. But when it comes to my kids, I'll do anything. Plus, you can't back down from a dance battle, especially when the challenge comes from a 5-year-old.
"You don't want to battle me," I told her while I rolled up my sleeves. "I have been saving my best moves for this moment."
She would not back down. So, we danced a combination of spins and jumps until both of us were out of breath and declared ourselves the winner. My 3-year-old walked into the room, sipping her milk, and we asked her to judge our contest. She announced with a laugh that she was the best. "But you are pretty good, too," she added.
We agreed to a tie and shook on it. I reminded her we were just a few days away from our daddy-daughter dance. I asked if she was excited. She was.
"Do you think we'll have to dance battle anyone?" I continued.
She thought for a moment. "Maybe, but if so, we'll just try our best," she said.
Wise words. "Let's just go and have fun," I said. She agreed.
When I first became a father, I wondered if one day I would become a cheesy dad; someone willing to look like an idiot for the amusement of his kids. I am. And I've realized the power in being corny. It makes them laugh, sure. But it also allows you to wade into awkward conversations with ease. And more than anything, being able to talk to your kids about everything is important.
On dance night, we dressed up in our finest clothes, ate the finest meal at McDonald’s (her choice), and strolled into the dance excited.
But inside, she didn't want to dance. And I knew exactly why.
"Are you nervous because all of the other people around?" I asked. She nodded. "Does it feel like everyone is watching you?" She nodded again.
She wrapped her arms around my arm and squeezed hard. "How did you know that?" she asked.
"Because I feel like that a lot, too," I replied. "But you know what I do?"
She looked up at me.
"I pretend like there isn't anyone else in the room except for the person I love. You." I said. "And that makes it easy."
Then I wiggled free from her embrace and walked backwards slowly out into the dance floor, where I shimmied and moved in a way that only a goofy dad could pull off. I ignored all of those looks and focused on her. Whether it was my inspiring dance moves or pity that got her to join me doesn't really matter.
And we danced and had fun and didn't feel awkward at all.
David Manley is an editor at The Canton Repository. Share your stories with him at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @DaveManley.