Monday, June 16, 2014

Attention Shoppers: I Actually LOVE having Four Daughters

I do most of the shopping in our family. I do the cooking, so I like to do the shopping as well. When I go shopping, I love to take all four of my daughters along. I try and sell it as a fun way to spend time together, and point out that they're learning about stores and foods and all kind of things. We have a good time and they mostly behave. I catch a little too much praise for this from fellow shoppers, but I also catch a lot of comments about the "unfortunate" state of my condition as a father of four daughters. It's one of the most maddening things in my life that people feel I need their sympathy, when indeed I feel I am the luckiest person in the world.

The other day, my family walked to one of those mailbox stores where you can buy cards and ship things and that kind of thing. We mailed off child-made Father's Day cards that were only going to be a day late upon arrival. The guy at the register was, evidently, the owner of the store and quite a friendly chap. He looked at us and said, "Three kids?" then took a better peak over the counter and saw the little one, "Four?" he said with surprise. Then he took a second to weigh hair length and clothing before saying, "All DAUGHTERS?" My wife and I smiled and confirmed his suspicions. Then he did something utterly surprising. He laughed.

And laughed. And laughed.

This wasn't a chuckle, but an all-out belly laugh, huge and joyous. I smiled and laughed too, not at the fact that I have four daughters, but at the jolly reaction of this man behind the counter. I don't see strangers laugh with that kind of earnestness too often and I like it when I do. I was happy he was deriving--or creating or whatever--joy from us. We're a happy bunch of blokes walking around his store, go ahead, have a nice laugh. It was fine.

The fact is, I cannot begin to count how many similar incidents have peppered my life since the birth of my third daughter, much less my fourth. They vary from the most common "Poor dad!" reaction to the "I hope you at least have a male dog" reaction to "Going to try one more time?" comment. But the one that sticks out in my head more than any other, the one that I feel gave voice to the underlying feelings expressed by so many of the above comments, was when a woman said to my wife, "God sure played a joke on you!"

Yes, folks. Yes. God is playing a joke on us. That's what our lives boil down to. Here we were, mating like rabbits, hoping more than anything that we would get a male heir, and we failed. And God is laughing at our misfortune. That's exactly what's going on. I'm glad you had a few moments to get in on His divine prank and have your own chuckle.

But you know what? I don't feel like my life is a joke. When my oldest daughter, now nine, climbs a 75 foot rock-climbing wall in her climbing class in under two minutes, I don't laugh at my misfortune. When my second daughter, now eight, wrote a 42-page picture book for her little sisters, I didn't pout. When my five-year-old learned how to ride a bike nearly effortlessly thanks to her seemingly supernatural sense of balance, I think I actually might have felt pride, believe it or not. And when my fourth daughter, the two year old, belts out "Let It Go" at the top of her lungs, I sing along. I love having four daughters and I never feel cheated or tricked or otherwise molested by God or any other higher power. I feel like the light of the world shines upon me and that I should be the envy of the species.

I used to just nod and smile at these comments, but I now have a little few more constructive responses. They say things like "Poor guy!" or "You have my condolences" right in front of my daughters, right where they can hear. What are they supposed to think of I bow my head and take my beatings? So when someone asks if I am trying for one more time for a son, I say, "We're thinking of fifth girl." If they ask if I have a male dog at home (you wouldn't believe how often I get asked this question!) I say, "We did, but we had to put him down last winter. It was one of the toughest things in the world for us." This response is honest and it shuts them up pretty quickly. When they say that I am a "poor guy," I cock my head and say, "What are you talking about? I'm the luckiest guy in the world!" And when I get the obvious stated at me, "Four daughters!" I say, "Grand slam! We hit the jackpot."

And every single time that someone tactlessly says--loud enough for us to hear--"Oh look at that. That man has four girls. Poor guy" to their friend, I always stop what I'm doing and tell my girls (tactfully and out of earshot of the offender) "You guys don't listen to that crap. Ignore it as best you can. I'm the happiest person in the world to have you and I never once feel sorry for myself. My life is the best because of you girls."

There is one woman who I see when I'm out shopping who I just love. She is a Chinese woman who works at Costco and we see her about every weekend. She said to me the first time we met as she was giving out samples, "Where I come from in China, having four daughters is considered very lucky!" And ever since then, if we walk by or take a sample or if she checks our receipt at the door, she says, "There's my four lucky girls!" Yesterday, as we were leaving the store, she said to me, "I look forward all week to seeing your lovely daughters. It just makes me so happy to see your family."

I wanted to hug her. She is the only person who sees what it is I see when I look in the mirror: the luckiest man alive.


Joi Morse said...


Bear said...

Amen! Girls are great. :-)

AuntieJenJen said...

You, your beautiful wife, and your four adorable, intelligent, fun-loving girls, are the best! I brag on you guys all the time to my other family members and friends. This blog made me cry--joyful tears!