Going through life, hand in hand with my girls. As long as no-one is looking.

March 19, 2013

Daughter Two has had enough of hand-holding.

There’s been no official edict. No declaration. It’s just not cool.

Her hand is no longer available. She’ll show affection in her own, 12-year-old way. Usually via a quick hug.

She has gone down the same path as The Teenager. Although it must be said, the older sister was less definite about it all. She would forget sometimes, and grab Dad’s hand. Until she remembered that it’s not the done thing.

Daughter Two was one of the great hand-holders. Her tiny hand would be in mine wherever we went.

It’s one of the special things about being a Dad. Trying to make those around you feel safe. Little girls know all is fine in the world, when Dad is clutched close by.

From parks to shopping centres, and everywhere in between. Crossing the road. On the way to school, and on the way home. ‘Hold my hand Daddy.’ Music to a father’s ears.

We were at the movies on the weekend. Just the two of us. Another thing I love about being a Dad. To giggle through a flick, munching on too much popcorn and slurping iceless coke, is indeed a treat.

On the way to the cinema, I made a grab for those delicate fingers. I knew what the result would be. But I did it anyway. That’s another special thing about being a Dad. The ability to annoy.

She pulled her hand away, and laughed. We were both in on the joke. I pointed out that it used to be the other way around. That she used to grab MY hand. Another laugh.

‘Dad, I was, like, 6. All little kids do that. I’m older now.’ And so she is.

I explained to her that there is a cycle in this hand-holding business. Sure, a ban was in place right now. But things would change.

She would again want the same feeling of comfort that little girl had, a few years back. During boyfriend problems. And marriage. When she had her own children. Our hands would be back together. As far as lower-level carpark speeches go, it was a pretty good one.

She laughed again. ‘First of all, I don’t have a boyfriend. And I’m not getting married. I’m DEFINITELY not having kids.’

So there.

Deep down, she knows I’m right. It’s just that when you’re going on 13, an admission that a parent might know something about growing up is forbidden.

We had great fun in our movie. Sharing the same drink, demolishing the popcorn, and guessing the plot early.

As we walked back to the car, I put my arm around her. Briefly, and in part, to protect her from traffic. Old habits die hard.

She shrugged it off after a few seconds. With a laugh. Just long enough to say how much we mean to each other.

One of the tricks about being a Dad, is keeping up. Something that was fun yesterday, can be lame today. And then fun again. It’s all about listening. And getting instructions off their Facebook page.

I’ll keep trying the hand grab every now and then, just to annoy her. I don’t care how old they get. A Dad still has to have some fun.

Father v Trampoline. Another backyard nightmare. And how The Teenager saved the day.

July 10, 2012

I sat, and stared at the parts set out before me. In the hope that through some sort of backyard miracle, they would assemble themselves.

They didn’t, of course. The bits and pieces refused to assist.

The company responsible had given assurances that anyone could put this trampoline together. I would prove them wrong.

It should have been so simple. After all, I had done such work before. I’ve told you about it. When I put one together on Christmas Eve some years back, with the aid of a helpful neighbour and strong drink.

The proof of my labour that night was sitting at the other end of the yard. But it’s old now. Rusty, and frayed around the edges. With much less bounce. Yes, the similarities between us are striking.

The Teenager had been pleading for a new one for her birthday. She needed it to practice her cheerleading leaps and jumps. The key was the safety net, that our original work of art was missing. It seemed like a reasonable request.

I had spent the best part of an hour studying the instructions. Over and over. Panel One made absolutely no sense to me. I held parts up, twisting them this way and that. Nothing.

The deal was that I would have it functional by the time The Teenager came home from practice. A three-hour window. At this rate I would need three weeks.

The minutes ticked by. The winter sun was in a rush to depart. It would be dark soon. There was nothing to do but sit some more, and continue my pitiful staring.

When The Teenager finally made her way into the yard, there was not even the hint of surprise. It would seem she had expected to see the scene that was indeed before her.

I apologised for my lack of construction ability, and poured scorn on the makers. There had obviously been a mistake in the factory. Parts were missing. It may have even been the wrong model. We would complain firmly, and seek an immediate refund.

As I thundered my protest, The Teenager scanned the paperwork that had been baffling me. And smiled.

‘Dad, you’re reading the wrong instructions. That was for the safety net. THIS is the sheet for the trampoline.’

A simple mistake, it would seem. That lasted for several hours. Daughter Two giggled. She, too, had seen this before.

The Teenager is nothing if not determined. And incredibly talented. She decided to take charge.

‘Dad, this is actually quite simple. I think we can do it.’

And so it was that on a winter’s evening during school holidays, I became hired help for a fourteen year old girl.

Before I knew it she had assembled the base. Daughter Two joined in. We spread the mat, and began hooking up dozens of springs.

Still in a daze from being shown up so completely, and with the night wind biting, I was ready to complete the next phase in record time. But The Teenager cautioned against such haste. If just one spring was put into the wrong position, we’d have to start again. Where does she learn this stuff?

As a team, we took our time, and got it right. And just like that, the job was done. The Teenager squealed as she made her first jump. From foreman to birthday girl, just like that.

There’s something special about being taught things by your daughters. I get the feeling there are many more lessons on the way.

We didn’t have time to do the safety net. That’s the easy bit, she reckons. Maybe this weekend. Just let me know when you need me boss.

The family tradition continues. Daughters dressing up to accept a schoolyard badge of honour.

March 20, 2012

Daughter Two had that look about her. The one that says those over the age of 15 have no idea how the world works.

Her big day had arrived. The presentation of School Leadership badges. And as such, dress code would be hotly contested.

A crazy suggestion had been made, that she might want to wear her school dress to mark the occasion. It was like someone had told her to turn up in the local garbo’s uniform.

The Dress, she informed us, was not needed. As the new House Captain, she reckoned she had a duty to attend in the official sports uniform of blue shirt and tight shorts. And anyway, none of her friends would even THINK of frocking up.

It appears that The Dress became uncool sometime last year. The sporty look had become the preferred option. With approval from teachers, apparently.

It was explained to her that while such attire was fine for strutting around the oval with the boys at lunchtime, it didn’t quite do when one was receiving her badge from the a bored local politician.

There is family history in these badge ceremonies. The Teenager picked up the same title in her final year of primary school. Funny, but I don’t remember her wanting to ditch The Dress.

My nieces and nephews have captained everything bar the Queen Mary. And the boys would have a crack at that too if they were allowed on the bridge.

Going back a few centuries, my peers voted me in as school captain. Several probably still wake in a cold sweat at the thought of passing such responsibility my way.

I would never tell the girls, but I found the leadership role a great way to get out of schoolwork. The perfect excuse. There was always something to do outside of the classroom. Usually involving sport.

One teacher was a wake up to me. She would have none of my ‘The Touch Footy team needs me NOW’ plea. This woman had the nerve to make me do entire lessons, which was unheard of in other departments. Annoys me to this very day.

Anyway, Daughter Two finally agreed to wear The Dress. For one day only. Which was just as well. Because all her friends did exactly the same. No shorts to be seen.

The kids all clapped her, and the other young leaders. The family was out in force, proud as punch. There’s something about seeing a loved one on stage, being rewarded for effort, and potential.

My daughter would never admit it, of course, but she got a kick out of the whole thing. That shy smile gave the game away. I promise I won’t tell her buddies.

When the grandkids check out my photos in years to come, they’ll see their mum as a Year Seven girl, taking great strides in becoming a young lady.

They’ll spot the badge. And the dress. She’ll thank us for that one day.

Leaving us in stitches. A father’s tribute to a brave daughter, and her beautiful scar.

January 31, 2012

I think she knew the answer, but the question came anyway.

“Dad, will this needle hurt?”

The Teenager was sitting in a cubicle at the Children’s Hospital, looking at me with wide eyes. And a gaping hole in her chin.

An hour earlier, she’d fainted. Dropped in the kitchen like a sack of spuds. On the way down, she caught the sharp edge of a kitchen cupboard.

She stood up, her gorgeous face sliced. A serious wound, in the shape of an uneven horseshoe.

The Treasurer and Daughter Two rushed her to the emergency ward. No tears or fuss.

I’d arrived from work soon after. There she was, still in her summer pyjamas, sitting on the bed, smiling. She showed me the damage. My heart sank.

Doctors and nurses fussed over her, prodding, and asking questions. She smiled at them too. Gave polite answers. Then asked for her phone so she could send a photo to all her friends.

It was then decided that the repair work needed to be done by a plastic surgeon. Just to be sure. We were lucky. It was early on Australia Day. The public holiday rush hadn’t started. The specialist was available.

He arrived within twenty minutes. Good looking, naturally. Blonde hair, fit and confident. And young. I have socks that are older.

But his manner was calming. He explained what needed to be done. There would be stitches. And an injection into her face, to stop any pain.

Up until this point, The Teenager had been remarkably calm. Unlike the rest of us. When Doctor Dashing left, her mood changed.

My daughter has two great fears in life. Vomiting, and needles. She was about to experience one. With fears it would lead to the other.

“Dad, will this needle hurt?”

As parents, we spend our life protecting. Shielding children from pain whenever we can. I wanted so much to say she wouldn’t feel a thing. That everything would be ok.

From experience, I knew what was ahead. And I couldn’t lie.

“Well, the needle will hurt. But that’s so you don’t feel the stitching. Some discomfort, to make sure the rest is painless.”

Tears welled in those big eyes. And there was nothing I could do.

We moved to a bigger room, where such procedures are done. Doctor Dashing scrubbed up. His nurse told The Teenager to lie on the bed. No turning back now.

The Treasurer stood bedside, holding her hands. Tightly. I ended up at the other end. Holding her knobbly kneecaps. I don’t know why. It seemed like a soothing thing at the time.

Her loving sister was also in the room. I stopped worrying about how the ordeal was affecting her, when I realised she was practising dance moves next to the oxy-viva. And posting updates on Facebook.

I had a clear view of the pain killing needle going in. That giant, long, thick, ghastly needle. That made my little girl cry.

Doctor Dashing was trying to work quickly, but it seemed to take an eternity. Numb the area, and irrigate the wound. She was trying so hard not to sob.

They gave her time to compose herself, before the stitching began. I told her to close her eyes, and go to a happy place. She nodded, through the tears. I swear I felt her pain.

My daughter dug deep, and found strength I didn’t know she possessed. She lay still, eyes closed, possibly imagining she was on a beach somewhere with Cody Simpson. The place that allowed her to receive twenty stitches without flinching.

That night, there was extra chocolate, and even more chick flicks than usual. She went back to school the next day, even though we said she could have the day off.

The Teenager’s dream, for as long as any of us can remember, has been to be a model. And she won’t be letting a bunch of stitches get in the way.

She has already devised a strategy. Australia’s first Supermodel with a scar. With the gory photos to prove it.

Her positive attitude blows me away. So, too, her bravery. And in my eyes, she’s more beautiful than ever. Every bit of her. Even those kneecaps.

So, my daughter’s not good enough? Round two between Father and the Boy.

September 13, 2011

After weeks of planning, Daughter Two was having her eleventh birthday party.

A house full of school friends. Games and loud music. Enough sugar to send a Bundy farmer on a Pacific cruise.

Oh, and one other thing. There were boys.

Two in particular. The object of my precious daughter’s affections, and his mate.

You may remember me mentioning the lad in question a few weeks back. From memory, I was calm and laid back about it all. Despite suggestions to the contrary.

At least he had his shirt on this time. Unlike in that ridiculous dancing video. He had a mop of shaggy blonde hair, that was in need of a date with a brush.

He had a go at the hula hoop competition, but was no match for the girls. I almost felt sorry for him.

Defeated, he sat down to watch the others. The opportunity was too good to ignore.

In a classic military move, I came in unsighted from the right flank. No escape path.

We shook hands. He seemed tiny, and uncomfortable. I asked him about footy. He went a shade of red.

All the while, I could feel a pair of eyes burning deep into my back.

Daughter Two was watching my every move. The potential for embarrassment here was deep into the red zone.

I was trying to be cool. No boring dad stories. I didn’t even break into song. But there was a problem.

The last time I’d checked, they were about to be the Year 6 version of boyfriend and girlfriend. Everyone seemed happy. Not counting me.

I’d heard nothing more, and assumed that they were, indeed, an item. Apparently, this is something one needs to check before engaging in conversation.

The girls, all ten of them, were sleeping over. Madness, I know. But the boys were being picked up. Departure time prompted a flurry of activity from the young ladies present.

There was a rush for the door, with a squeal common at sleepovers. They were screaming things like “Don’t you have something to ask the birthday girl?”, and “You still have time!”

I was confused. Nothing unusual for a Friday evening. Until the Treasurer took me aside.

She explained that there’d been a hitch. He hadn’t asked her out yet. The girls thought he would muster enough courage by the end of the party. They were wrong.

It then dawned on me. This kid who I’d been interrogating, was only Boyfriend (pending).

The girls ran inside laughing. It was Pass the Parcel time. For just a second though, I thought I detected a hint of sadness in the eye of my beautiful daughter.

This was an outrage. What was this pint-sized cad thinking? Standing up the most eligible eleven year old in the school?

Because one of the young gum-chewing party guests had taken my comfy black chair, I pondered the situation briefly from the deck. My life till now has been about keeping boys away. Now I wanted one to come back.

I decided the best thing I could do was to go to another room and watch the footy. A sacrifice that fathers make on such nights. I hope you understand.

The rest of the party seemed to go well, apparently. Except for the girl with the allergic reaction to the guinea pigs.

I’ve been told that such matters take time. The boyfriend thing, not the allergy. Although I have given thought to training up the little critters  to attack him during his next dance performance.

Daughter Two just laughed when I asked for details the following day. She said all was ok, and that I should ‘chill’. It seems the family is getting some perverse satisfaction from my suffering.

I hope he realises that this isn’t over. Fathers have long memories. He’ll have to answer my questions again one day. Just as soon as the game  is over.

Driving Dad crazy. Daughter Two gets promoted up front.

September 6, 2011

Daughter Two usually gets stuck in the back seat.

Rarely does she get the chance to travel up front. One of the many burdens of being the youngest.

Age means she’s third in line to the Honda throne, behind mother and sister.

So there’s something of a celebration, on the rare occasion that just the two of us get to travel together side by side.

It happened on the weekend, and like everything else she does, I reckon it’s worth sharing.

She starts by adjusting the passenger seat controls. Every single one of them. This one forward. Tilt up. Cushion raised.

Of course, she won’t return those settings at trip’s end. Few things infuriate The Treasurer more. She’ll later be forced to impersonate a pretzel on entering the vehicle.

Sitting position set, she then takes down our directions, to remind me later.  We’re heading into the city for a function. The Treasurer and The Teenager are already there. We’re the naughty latecomers.

The father/daughter conversation will begin as we leave our street. And it’s the same question every time.

“Dad, why do you always take so long to put your seat belt on?”

It’s true. Another bad habit. I wait until we’ve left our street, before I buckle up. At the same spot up the road every time.

If you happen to be an officer of the law who has strayed onto these pages, the above was totally made up. No need to be waiting for me tomorrow morning.

This thing that I made up angers Daughter Two. She is very safety conscious, and chastises me for my foolishness. “What if we crash, and you die?”

Fair point. I joke that at least she’d be able to walk home while they put the sheet over me. But she’s on a roll.

“Have you ever had a crash? Did you get any cuts and get taken to hospital?” I pause, and decide to invoke Father’s prerogative to make this answer a selective one.

There’ll be no mention of the rear-ender they blamed me for on the Gold Coast. Depending on the availability of court papers, I may or may not have been responsible.

I try to answer cheerily. “Just the one. And it wasn’t my fault. Some idiot ran into me when I was very young. He wrecked my first ever car, and I had to catch the bus for two weeks while they fixed it.”

That was true enough. But she wasn’t finished.

“What happens if the airbags go off? You told me once that kids aren’t allowed in the front seat because they could get hurt.”

The girl can’t remember to take a lunchbox out of her bag on any given day, but recalls some half-assed speech I made years ago. Typical.

I re-assured her that she was older now, and taller. She would be fine. There would be no crash. No airbags.

There’s silence for a while. I imagine she’s compiling a version of my recklessness to tell the family later in the day. She can be quite harsh in such forums. I’m about to issue a new line of defence, when I realise she’s nodded off.

Another of the girl’s remarkable traits. She can fall asleep in an instant, pretty much anywhere. Especially in the car.

It made me think of all the times I’ve carried her to bed at night, slung over a shoulder, from all parts of the house. One of the perks of being a Dad. You get to do the carrying.

This siesta, however, would be a brief one. A song stirred her. On the station she’d changed my radio to. Something else she’s famous for.

“Did you know that Nicki Minaj is the world’s best female rapper? Do you remember this song? You were dancing to it at home last weekend.”

Before I can answer, she starts singing, and dancing. I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard of the singer, or the song. And your guess is as good as my memory about the quality of my dancing. I respond with polite nodding.

We’re nearly at our destination. Two will soon become four again.

Time for one final question. “Are we staying in a fancy hotel?” For her, fancy means free internet.

I tell her it’s where our function is, so it doesn’t need to be fancy. But I’m pretty sure it has wi-fi.

She’s happy with that. Our trip is done. She will soon boast to The Teenager about getting that front seat.

Dads are easily pleased. We love it when our daughters look after us, and ask questions, and fall asleep, and sing songs we’ve never heard of.

When she was little, I’d pull faces at her in the rear view mirror. She’d laugh, every time. That was when she was in the back seat. Now she’s by my side, I’m the one that’s smiling.

Nobody panic. There’s a boyfriend in the room. Just keep him away from your Father.

August 30, 2011

This must be handled carefully.

No need to be silly. A father should remain calm and reasonable.


There’s a boy on the scene. I’m told it could be serious. The real deal.

All this time, I’ve been keeping watch over The Teenager. Doing my best to keep those crazy high school kids in baggy shorts away. Seems my surveillance has been on the wrong daughter.

While The Teenager fights them off with a stick and waits for Cody Simpson (young pop singer in baggy shorts) to discover her, the little sister has been growing up.

Yes, Daughter Two has been struck by Cupid.

I know this because she told me. She was very excited about it. So much so that she failed to notice my knees buckle.

The Treasurer, who reads me like a dog-eared book, was expecting such a reaction, and caught me. It’s becoming a habit.

This is not quite the traditional tale of love and romance. More a Grade Six version.

A deal is in place with one of her best friends. The boy’s current girlfriend. But not for much longer.

The lad has declared that he likes Daughter Two instead. So there will be a handover, much like sharing a chocolate muffin at first break.

The ceremony will take place on Friday. Everyone seems quite happy with the arrangement. My head was spinning.

We asked if this had the potential to cause problems with their friendship. No, she said. The other girl is fine. She’s moving on too. Everyone’s a winner.

As I pondered the generosity of the younger generation, I was advised there was a video that I needed to see.

We gathered around the laptop, to see a skinny blonde boy dancing. It must have been hot that day, because he wasn’t wearing a shirt.

It was him. A smooth-moving eleven year old with protruding ribs and footy shorts. And his own YouTube page.

Daughter Two was giggling like a … schoolgirl. So too The Teenager. Even The Treasurer was enjoying it. They thought he was putting on quite a show.

I was speechless. When he wasn’t strutting to the music, he was talking to the camera. About everything and nothing. In his lounge room. Where does a kid get that sort of confidence?

It would seem I’m about to find out. We’ve having Daughter Two’s birthday party next week. And he’s invited.

Each night we receive strict instructions on how to act. Most of the directions are aimed at me.

Don’t ask him questions. No bad jokes. Avoid any talk about his dancing. Don’t mention the footy. Most of all Dad, DON’T embarrass me!

As if that would happen. I’ve promised to be on my best behaviour. All I’ll do is have a simple chat with him. Father to Dancing Boy. What could go wrong?

And there’s one more thing. A girl’s first relationship is a delicate matter. Privacy is important. I’d hate for anything to go wrong. Do me a favour and keep this between us.

A hero, but not in his home town. The Officer who’s missing his family.

August 9, 2011

Meet my new friend Gary. Wide as he is tall.

Gary had been carved out of a decent block of granite. His US Navy dress uniform was sagging under the weight of battle decorations.

We were having lunch, with a few hundred others, on board his ship. He was kind enough to invite me to share his small table.

He may have been concerned that I was about to spill my over-loaded plastic plate onto the shiny deck we were standing on. Like any good officer, solving problems early.

We began chatting. He called me Sir. In every sentence. Such courtesy wasn’t necessary, but I wasn’t game to argue. He had biceps capable of hurling me to the other side of the river.

Gary loves Australia. Told me the drunkest episode of his life took place in Sydney, on his first tour.

His favourite memory of that night is how some Aussies carried him and his buddy back to their ship. I reckon those doing the carrying must have been  weightlifters.

Two junior officers joined us. The Sirs now came in triplicate.

These two were almost as thick-set as Gary. For a brief moment I lost sight of the sun.

They had promotions pending, and were banned from the grog. Gary teased them with an icy cold Australian beer, which he demolished in seconds. They shook their large, bald heads, and smiled. I could tell they looked up to him.

The junior giants moved on, removing themselves from our table of temptation, and Gary started telling me a little about himself.

His career in the Navy started 22 years ago. He’d been around the world several times over. Lots of war zones.

Last year, he’d been at sea for 270 days. About 9 months of the year away from loved ones.

He hasn’t been at home for Christmas Day since 2006. Following orders, in another time zone. I told him my girls get upset if I’m not sitting with them opening presents by 5am.

Gary laughed at that. And he wasn’t complaining. But it was clear that missing such important events was troubling him. The downside of dedicating your life to protecting others.

For just a second, I thought the tough-as-teak Navy man might shed a tear. His daughter had just turned 16. And he wasn’t there. He sent his love, long distance, over the phone.

She understood. Proud of what dad does. But not before she reminded him that it was the sixth consecutive birthday he’d missed. Since she was 10. That’s a lot of cake.

Her phone call had him thinking seriously about the future. We stopped talking, as he gazed across the river. It became clear that under that giant exterior, a heart was aching.

We stood in silence for a while. Then Gary outlined his grand plan, for when he returns to civilian life. He wants to train security officers. Maybe join the office of Homeland Security. Even his local police force.

But to do that, Gary would have to move. His voice lowered, as he told me that there was too much racism where he was raised. Still.

This proud African-American, who had risked life and limb for his country over two decades, wasn’t seen as a hero in his home town. Just another black man. No place to keep a family.

So sad. On his ship, his second home, colour and ethnic origin mean little. As long as you pull your weight, you’re part of the team. Everyone fighting for the same side.

It was time for visitors to go. He flashed a smile, shook my hand with his giant paw, and thanked me for sharing lunch. The pleasure was all mine.

I said that if he had time between fighting wars and soothing daughters, I’d like to keep in touch. He thought that sounded like a fine idea.

Through e-mail, we’ll keep tabs on how life pans out. He’s promised to give me a full description of that birthday party. And how the family settles into their new home, in their new state. They’ll be lucky to have him.

I admire my new friend Gary. So sad that a blind few in his own country can’t see that he’s a hero. His daughter will remember though, when he’s producing giant gusts to blow out those candles next year. I’ll let you know how he goes.

From Phar Lap to Hannah Montana – what fathers do for their daughters.

April 19, 2011

Hannah Montana revealed her true identity, just as final scratchings came through.

The squawking teen actress took off her wig on a false Jay Leno show. It had all been a sham. The gig was up. Emotions ran high in our house. My red pen almost missed non-starters in the last.

Does any other punter in the land start race day with Saturday Disney blaring in the background? The rest are getting the latest track upgrade while I’m marvelling at the acting ability of Billy Ray Cyrus. Although it should be said that the man had a mullet to die for.

We’ve watched this damn show from the very start. Some episodes time and again. The very loud Tennessee teenager is almost part of the family.

Daughters will do that to a man. I’m used to it now. Long ago, things changed around here. A father with a house full of women learns to live his life differently. But it wasn’t always this way.

As a young man, sharing a house with other young men, the choice of home entertainment was simple. We had two movies on the shelf. Phar Lap, and The Man from Snowy River. For a long time, I thought Tom Burlinson was the best horseman this country had produced.

We’d usually whack the videos in on a Friday or Saturday night, after arriving home from our local, a little on the damaged side. Viewing would be done with several pies, picked up on the way home, and if we could squeeze another in, a cool drink. Or two.

We knew all the lines. There’d be cheers when Tom the Man took off down that impossible cliff. Boos when those mongrels gave Tom’s Phar Lap even more weight to try to have him beaten in the Cup.

The bagmen would offer long odds for any of us to still be awake when the credits were rolling. More likely, we’d find a snowy pattern on the tv the next morning, along with a throbbing head.

Sure, Rambo and Rocky would get a decent run from the local Video Ezy. But those iconic horses were the stars of our living room in the eighties.

Somehow, I’d always imagined treating a son to those movie classics. A young bloke in his high chair, burping with glee at watching Tom plant one on Sigrid Thornton’s cheek, just before breaking in the mob. But it wasn’t to be.

Early on, the girls loved the Wiggles. And Hi-5. We knew the songs. All parents do. I went to concerts for both of them. Eldest daughter and I even got to meet the Hi-5 gang back stage before one of their shows. For a brief period, that had me as the coolest dad on the block.

As they got older, the girls became more, well, girly. The stars in our house were singers and dancers. Young women like Hilary Duff. She played Lizzy McGuire, a tween who became like a third daughter to me. And Emma Roberts, and Ashley Tisdale, and Taylor Swift. I’m doubling my bet that you don’t know who those people are. Then there’s Miley Cyrus. Miley is actually Hannah. Remember, the one who took off her wig? That sound you can hear is old football mates shaking their heads.

Some of you might have heard of Lindsay Lohan. You may have seen her on the news. One of her numerous court appearances. She goes harder than Fevola in the party stakes. Drink. Drugs. Shoplifting. Although Fev probably has her as far as pokies go.

I know a different Lindsay. The cute little girl who played twins in a movie years ago called The Parent Trap. Then there was Freaky Friday. Funny stuff. Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen. Can you believe I’ve seen every single movie this wild child has made. Every one. I can’t even say that about Robert de Niro. Or Sylvester Stallone. What does that say?

My point is, they’ve changed me. I know things that happen in cheerleading movies. And not the ones we used to watch. Ok, maybe we had more than two movies in that old house. I sing along to their songs. I don’t complain when we watch Cadet Kelly for the tenth time. Hilary’s in that one. She joins the cadets and her mum meets a new dad and…..well, I’ll spare you the details.

We have our own dvd of High School Musical. Haven’t seen it? Think a modern-day Grease, with less smoking.

I went to a Taylor Swift concert. She’s a young country singer with more money than the Queen. This is a bloke who cheered Midnight Oil when they played mid-week in pubs, and rocked with The Angels when Mum thought I was studying. I left the concert early. The girls didn’t mind. They sang me all the songs I missed over the following weeks. There really is no escape.

Please don’t think I’m complaining. Fathers of daughters wouldn’t change a thing. We whinge sometimes about being part of a new dance routine in the kitchen, but secretly, we love our lot. It’s a blessing. Just one none of us saw coming.

Hannah Montana is about to wind up. Miley Cyrus is all grown up now. It goes so quick. We’ll be watching together on Saturday morning. Every chance I’ll struggle with the scratchings again. That’s ok. Another chapter in the rollercoaster ride of being a dad is coming to a close. Expect tears to be shed. The girls will be upset too.