A Date With Daddy

Whoever is head of marketing at Chick-fil-a is a genius. This weekend Chick-fil-a’s across the region had a Daddy Daughter Date night in their restaurants. To provide an air of exclusivity, you had to sign up online to get your reservation.

My girls, being the divas in training that they are, decided that they wanted to wear their red silk and taffeta dresses with heels and stockings to the event. Keep in mind that this was Chick-fil-a…where the menu consists of chicken nuggets and waffle fries. None of that mattered. It was a date after all, and a lady must have standards, mustn’t she?

After a manic day of going to the Fernbank and visiting with friends, they rushed in the door and slipped into their dresses. It was a scene that I used to be very familiar with myself…when I had a social life.  Marshall was waiting comfortably downstairs watching an old Billy Crystal movie. Much to the girls’ delight, I allowed each of them a spritz of perfume on their wrists because they were ‘going out’. They rushed down the stairs demanding that their father smell them. After he declared that they both smelled very pretty, they informed him they were ready to go. With coats on they sat on the couch while he remained engrossed in the film, ignoring their silent pleas to leave now. That was a scene I was familiar with as well – A dude sitting on the couch, watching TV (usually a game) after you’ve gotten all dolled up, just wasting precious fun time.

“Babe,” I interrupted. “The girls are waiting. We have Tivo. Record this and watch it later.”

He looked at me like I was crazy, but then realized I was right. The point of this exercise was to teach them how and man is supposed to treat them, wasn’t it? Should they then expect that their future beaux are supposed to plant their butts in the chair and ignore them when they’re supposed to be heading out? Nope. Didn’t think so. They said good-bye and he whisked them off in his dad chariot.

When they arrived at ‘the restaurant’, each table was covered with a table cloth and decorated with balloons and flowers. Marshall called me to inform me that the girls were definitely overdressed (which I knew they would be) and that apart from one other little girl in a pretty dress, everyone else was in jeans or something simple. But as any woman will tell you, it doesn’t matter what anyone else is wearing: If YOU’RE not happy in your clothes, you’re not going to be happy for the rest of the night; and the girls were happy.

Of course the meal wasn’t free, and after they feasted on nuggets, fries and juice, daddy treated them to dessert as well. This is where the marketing genius comes in. We RARELY get dessert for the kids when we go out to eat – but this was date night, and your date is supposed to get you something special after you’ve both eaten, isn’t he? Can we say upsell?!? So successful was the event that they ran out of food. I wanted Marshall to bring me a chicken salad sandwich, only to be informed that they were clean out. How do you run out of chicken at CFA??

To foster a conversation between the dads and their girls, CFA had a printed primer with questions for the dads to ask them.

“I already knew most of the answers,” Marshall boasted.

And it is indeed something to boast about. How many parents, let alone dads, really know their kids?

An hour later, my trio came home, beaming  after their night out. The girls had each been given carnations, and Aya gave hers to me.

“I got this flower for you, Mommy!”

It was already showing signs of wear after being handled by her not-so-gentle hands. I took the wilted, drooping plant in my hand and thanked her for it. She kept her brownie for herself.

Good girl. I would’ve done the same thing.

After they went to bed, I wondered why my own father never took me or my sister out on date nights. Marshall said his dad never took his sister out either. I suppose it was the generation we grew up in. My dad (like Marshall’s) was most likely concerned what we were going to eat with our rice each night, and not what dress I could wear on an evening out with him.

It’s good to be a dad in 2011, ain’t it?