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18th of July 2018

Men



I Wish My Daughter Loved Me Like She Loves Her Hoodie - The Good Men Project

—I wish my daughter loved me as much as she loves her hoodie. That devotion in her eyes; the pure respect she has for the thing. Will she ever look at me like that?

She comes down the stairs before school, the hoodie already on. It’s grey with a NASA logo the front. The hoodie is well worn enough that it’s getting a bit frayed at the cuffs. It’s also starting to smell a bit funky.

“Hey, honey,” I say. “Can I get you some breakfast? Maybe make you an omelet?”

“No, thank you, dad. The hoodie will provide,” she says. My daughter, all of twelve, lays down on the couch and curls into herself. The hoodie collapses around her.

“Well, how about I drive you to school this morning?” I ask her. I’m hopeful that she will take me up on this offer, perhaps allow me to insert myself into the role of the hoodie.

“The hoodie and I are going to walk today, dad,” she says.

This isn’t going to be easy. I leave the kitchen and sit in my father chair. It’s big and made of fake leather, the kind of thing that you get on sale at places that sell furniture and not hoodies.

“Honey, we need to talk,” I tell her.

“What?” she asks.

“Honey, you need to stop wearing the hoodie for a while,” I say.

And that’s when hell breaks loose. The barrage that comes back at me is so fierce that I consider puncturing my own eardrums. The neighbors call to make sure that my house hasn’t exploded. I tell them it’s fine, we are dealing with hoodie issues. They gasp; there is understanding in that gasp. They have preteen daughters who love hoodies, too

“Baby, it’s 85 degrees outside. You can’t wear the hoodie,” I say.“I’m cold!” she says and then shivers although I can tell that she is faking it.“You are going to get heat stroke. Do you know what that is?”“No, please tell me,” she says but she doesn’t mean it. There is so much dripping sarcasm in her words that I could use it for my pancakes.“It’s when you overheat and you stop sweating. Then, without notice, you soon spontaneously combust and flames shoot out your eyeballs,” I say.“That doesn’t happen!” she says.“Yup. Flames. And then I have to go get the fire extinguisher and spray you in the face. You will smell like poop for the rest of the day because I’m still going to make you go to school.”“Dad!”“I know, life’s tough. Lose the hoodie. It’s springtime.”

She eyeballs me, am I being serious? Or can she find a way out of this? I’m not her father, not really, I’m just the guy that buys the hoodies.

“How about I take it off and just bring it to school in case I get cold?” she asks. She’s pleading and it breaks me. Ugh, Jesus, not the daughter doe eye pleading. The thing is, I get it. I have a whole closet full of t-shirts that my wife has been begging me to throw away. I explain to my wife that the t-shirts get me in a way that she never can.

I’m also not a stupid father. I know that my daughter is starting to develop and she may be self-conscious about it. I totally get that. Things are different for her and they will be for a while. She’s not comfortable just yet with who she is becoming. Dear lord, I get that. So how do I be supportive? How do I show my daughter that her dad loves her more than the hoodie and understands what’s happening?

“Ok,” I tell her. “You can take your hoodie to school. But only wear it inside where it’s not too hot. Not on the bus; the bus doesn’t have A/C. Deal?”

“Deal,” she says and gets up to give me a hug that is the pre-teen equivalent of the handshake. It’s sealed and my daughter doesn’t get sprayed in the face with a fire extinguisher. She leaves the room and heads back upstairs to finish getting ready.

I take the opportunity to send an email to the school.

“Hey, everyone. Can you guys crank the A/C down to around forty today? We are dealing with hoodie issues. Doing the best I can. Appreciate it.”

There, that should help.

I’m sure that the hoodie is my training ground, and I’m trying my best to learn it’s lessons. One day that hoodie is going to be substituted for a boy. I’ll have my fire extinguisher ready.—

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—Photo credit:Toa Heftiba, modified

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