Christmas shopping, Dad-style. Making a daughter blush earns extra credits.

It was like Daughter Two had found a priceless artifact, right there in the surf shop.

She held it aloft, as one would present a rare Egyptian print.

It was a one-piece thingy, with the print of a tiger on it. Something like an extended singlet. Part costume, part underwear. Sister and friend both cooed approval. Even I could see it was pretty fancy.

She told me how she HAD to have it. Explained how she’d wear her new black skirt over the top. And right there, on the busy shop floor, father saw an opportunity.

“Why don’t you wear it without anything else, just like that?” I made sure my question was loud enough for the surrounding tweens and teens to hear. There was a gasp from the major players.

She looked at me as if I had just cursed the family name. There were no words. Just a wide-eyed stare. Followed by uncontrollable giggles. Sister too. They fell in a heap. With the one-piece thingy still held high.

It’s one of the joys of fatherhood. Being able to make a 12-year-old red-faced with utter embarrassment. Only a Dad knows the feeling.

It was all part of our weekend Christmas shopping expedition. Bags were piling high. And I have to admit, we were having loads of fun.

It had taken several hours to find a parking spot. We ended up on the roof in a nearby suburb. Or so it seemed. I’m sure some of our fellow shoppers are still doing laps.

For once, we had given ourselves plenty of time. This allowed us to stroll from shop to shop. The girls had been given a budget, and to my great surprise, they were sticking to it.

I have been shopping with these young women many times before. But on this particular day, I noticed something I hadn’t been aware of.

They are expert shoppers. I mean, they are REALLY good. I watched them in action, and was struck by how they go about spending my money.

The Teenager knows exactly what she wants. She will go straight to the dress that suits her best, from the dozens on offer.

She is cool and calm, flicking through those racks. At fourteen, she has found her style, and sticks with it. For a shopping novice like me, it was impressive stuff.

Daughter Two takes an almost forensic approach. She’ll look, and touch, and match. And look some more. When she likes something, she smiles.

Each time she made a purchase, she’d thank me, and give me a hug. Another joy of fatherhood.

We celebrated our good work by munching on as much fast-food as we could carry. That’s how Dads roll in big shopping centres. We aren’t capable of packing lunch, and the kids know it.

I’m pretty sure we’re all done now. A boot full of gifts will do the job. With a few weeks to spare.

Someone should write a book on the secrets of a male shopping day. What a help it would be for all those ladies still to venture out. Tips for everything, except embarrassing daughters. That’s the role of a Dad.

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