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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Fathering Through Braces, Pain and One Direction...

One day she'll thank us...
For over a week, my oldest daughter has been miserable (although, it has gotten progressively better over the past few days). She just got braces and her mouth has been, or at least, appears to be in excruciating pain.

I know, kids get braces everyday but my 12-year-old daughter is not exactly Sir William Wallace in the bravery department and when, on the first morning, after having them put in, a wire came loose and started cutting the inside of her mouth, well, as you can imagine, it went downhill from there.

She was moping around and whimpering, which, according to my wife, is reminiscent of whenever I feel a little under the weather. She broke down in tears several times and kept saying she didn't want the braces “anymore” (which, considering she has, at least, 18 months left, is not a good thing!). When she finally started eating (she’s dropped over 10 lbs.), she ate like Ruprecht of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. And, she still often sounds like Mumbles from Dick Tracy whenever she tries to speak by using the front of her lips while keeping her jaw shut. To top it off, she got a bad case of mouth sores.

In other words, she’s been as happy as Paul Sheldon, after having his ankles broken by his "number one fan" Annie Wilkes in the movie Misery. (You’re probably asking yourself, where have I been since the 1980’s!)

In any event, it couldn't have come at a worse time for her because it coincided with the One Direction concert that she has been anxiously waiting for since last year! (Although, as we looked at our summer schedule, between her dance recital, serving as a counselor at her school's Bible camp and our annual family vacation to Sanibel, there wasn’t a better time.)

In fact, on the morning of the concert, it was so bad, that she said she didn't want to go.

Don't ask me who's who...
Now, for those of you that don't have pre-teen or teenage girls, you couldn't imagine how monumental that comment was.  This was Zayn, Niall, Harry, Liam and her personal favorite, Louis Tomlinson for goodness sake! (Don’t feel bad, I didn't know their names either until I looked them up!) They aren’t exactly your garden variety teenage boy band, like  Youngstown, NSYNC or TKA (which I saw several times in Ft. Lauderdale!). They are the bomb!

Let me put it this way, I had to buy the overpriced tickets last July (when my daughter earned First Honors in 5th Grade), for a concert held last week! And, I’ll be honest, I was a little nervous that they would break up or that my daughter would get over them like she did Justin Bieber, which she now makes fun of before the big day.  (Then again, who doesn’t? Although, I won’t bore you with a heated discussion we had about him at work on whether he’s a victim of his environment or a punk!)

But, noooo! It seems they are as popular as they have ever been. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t seem to fail, every time my family is in the car, One Direction is playing on the radio (to the point where even our 5-year-old son is singing along!).

My daughter and her friends spend hours talking about which member they like most, what they like to do, who they are dating, etc.

Moreover, both of our daughters have One Direction photos and articles (why?) stapled all over the walls above their beds, I guess, so they can look at them (and read about them?) before going to sleep and upon waking up in the morning. It’s a little obsessive, if you ask me. Then again, I had Cheryl Tiegs, Farah Fawcett and Jaclyn Smith in bathing suits plastered over my walls as a kid (And, maybe a little older since I didn’t move out until my mid 20’s. Hey, it’s a Cuban thing, don’t judge!)

At any rate, after dropping a pretty penny for the tickets, when my daughter said Thursday morning that she didn’t want to go, needless to say, I was a little upset. My initial reaction, in my usual Christian fatherly way, was to threaten to take her sister! (Which got my eight-year-old excited, albeit temporarily until she noticed I didn't really mean it; Sorry!)

However, as I thought about it on the way to drop the kids off at my parents' house later that morning, I told her, "You're pain is going to go away, but the chance to see your favorite band may not happen again. If you don't go, when you feel better next week, you're going to regret it." (I think I saw this line in a movie once)

She nodded in agreement with her pouted lips, looking like a woman who just got Botox, as she tried to keep her lips away from her braces. And, by the time, I picked her up after work, she was ready, and while still distressed, she actually looked excited, although it was short lived.

Great production...
So, there I was at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, in a seat I could hardly fit into because my knees were rubbing up against the front wall, sitting next to a heavier set man than me, who had taken his family and was looking more uncomfortable than me, and with about thirty thousand teen and pre-teen girls standing, jumping and screaming at a warm up band, named 5SOS, and anticipating the headliners hitting the stage, and my daughter was just sitting there quietly next to me, looking a bit downcast and in obvious pain. I was disheartened.

I tried to cheer her up by taking a picture of us, which, usually, elicits a positive response from her. But, of course, at that moment, she wanted nothing to do with a picture and instead got more upset when I showed her how gloomy she looked (Tough love!) and wanted to erase it on the spot. I quickly emailed it to my wife, in case, she got a hold of my phone when I wasn't paying attention.

Finally, after 5SOS was done with their set and there was about a thirty minutes intermission, which turned out to be an intermission of non-stop ear-shattering screaming, especially from the girl that was sitting next to me (after I traded places with my daughter to give the heavier set man more room), and who, as we first sat down, gave us a warning that she might cry all over us, and kept saying, "Oh my God, I can't believe I'm actually here!,” and a video of OD members (as they are known to us concert going fans) talking and doing funny gags was shown, prompting a greater roar from the crowd, the group finally came on, amidst an explosion of lights, smoke, music and flash bulbs. (By the way, I use the term group loosely since they don't actually play any musical instruments, with the exception of one member who plays a little guitar!)

Anyhow, after about the third song, which sounded a lot like the second and first, I started thinking, "These guys are probably the best stage jumpers, walkers and prancers (pretend dancers) that I have ever seen." They also had an uncanny ability to end up in the middle of the stage after almost every song (like President Obama in a room full of reporters and photographers during a campaign), smiling and practically begging for applause.

In fact, it was as if somebody said, "Hey, let's put five good looking guys together, let them sing a little and jump around and make some money!" And, that somebody, of course, was Simon Cowell, as if he needs any more money!

The fact that they're from England and have British accents, only makes them more endearing to their American fans.

Exciting moment...
In all honesty, I started feeling a little resentful. Not only because I didn't discover them but also because these little twerps had an arena full of teenage girls screaming at them and calling their names! I could break into a Dire Strait song right here!  (I need go to Confession this weekend)

Look, maybe they could sing but I took my daughter to see Taylor Swift a couple of years ago and came away totally impressed by her talent, stage presence and elaborate show, which included over 160 dancers. In fact, Swift's entire production was one flawless story, using her songs, from beginning to end; akin to when I saw Kool and the Gang in college one year.

These guys paled in comparison. It was just the five guys singing and trying to be funny, wrapped in a spectacular light show and stage production packaging. The only excitement, outside of the special effects, was when they were taken on a moving platform from the main stage to a smaller stage that was closer to us in the middle of the arena. (Then again, I may be biased by the fact that I think Swift is a lot cuter!)

Now, to be fair, I will say, I did recognize many songs from all those car rides and I found myself stomping my feet at times, as the screaming girl next to me danced and gyrated in an epileptic convulsion sort of way and also standing on various songs (I need to stretch my legs!).

But, this was not about me. It was about my daughter; a reward for reaching academic excellence (which by the way, she also reached this year!) and an opportunity to spend some quality time with her on a “date,” as the Principal of my wife’s high school once suggested to a group of fathers, as a way to show their daughters how they should be treated by a man.

Sure, she wasn't feeling great but at some point (she later told me), she was singing along and having fun; even if it was concealed by her low key demeanor. She even started "texting" with a few of her friends (simultaneously?) and sending them videos of the concert. I ended up with over 35 videos on my iPhone; albeit, half of them were mine!

After the curtain call, dropping another $70 bucks for two t-shirts (the other was for my younger daughter, not me!) and spending an hour in the parking lot trying to get out of the arena, she fell asleep on the drive home, as I listened to the Miami Heat’s Game 4 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals.

The next morning, she came up to me as I was at the computer, wrapped her arms around me, kissed me and said, "Thank you, Daddy for taking me to the concert. I really enjoyed it although I was in a lot of pain."

I’m not sure if my wife put her up to it but, at that moment, despite the expense, my legs falling asleep from sitting in an uncomfortably tight seat, having my ear shattered by the “number one” fan sitting next to me, waiting an hour to get out of the parking lot and missing the Heat game, it was an experience I'll probably cherish for the rest of my days.  Thank you God!...

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