Daddies and daughters
Every daddy wants the best for his little girl. As Father’s Day approaches, Jo Caruana celebrates the special relationship between dads and daughters, and meets three wonderful fathers to hear their experiences of raising girls.
David Ellul Mercer is an architect and civil engineer. He is married to Rachel and they recently became parents to little Emily. This will be David’s first Father’s Day.
Knowing Rachel and I had had a daughter was an amazing feeling – especially when I finally saw the little one after nine months of scans, weekly baby centre updates, random internet research, birth videos, parent-craft classes and more. I’ve always wanted a “daddy’s girl” and I am hoping Emily and I will grow to be very close.
As she is only a few months old, it’s too soon to talk about what raising a daughter will be like from a guy’s perspective. At the moment we’re going from phase to phase, and already it’s happening so fast. Having said that, I don’t think it will be difficult to do from a man’s perspective; she needs her dad and her mum in equal measure for personal growth.
And so far it’s all been amazing – from the moment she looked up at me in puzzlement as I dressed her for the first time a few moments after she was born, to the first time she smiled at me. Every moment is precious.
On the flip side, keeping Emily entertained is definitely the biggest challenge so far. She doesn’t sleep very easily, so Rachel and I carry her around, sing to her, wave toys in front of her and speak in silly voices – just to keep her happy. The second we sit down she starts to cry, so we have to get right up again – there’s never a dull moment.
Emily does seem to like it when I play the piano though, especially Bach and Mozart, and we already have a video of her first ‘concerto’. There are other cute things, of course, like way her eyes widen when we drive into a tunnel and she tried to adjust to the light. Her expression is priceless.
As Emily grows older I am really looking forward to being able to communicate with her… to hear her first words, witness her first steps and feed her some real food. I also think into the future; I was at a wedding the other day and thought what it might be like to walk Emily down the aisle.
It’s a long way away though, so for now I’ve shelved that thought, as well as thoughts of ‘the dating years’!
In the meantime, I’m just loving being a dad – despite everything you hear about sleepless nights, lost freedom and the new responsibility of it all, nothing compares to the amazing feeling of being a parent. A child is a miracle and I feel truly blessed.
As for my first Father’s Day? Well Emily splashed out on something really nice for Mother’s Day last month, so I wouldn’t expect anything less from her for daddy.
Steve Casaletto is co-owner of Key IT Group – a specialist company in the informational technology field, and co-owner of Mellow Drama Ltd. He is married to Greta and is dad to Bianca and Seth. Steve will be directing Legally Blonde The Musical later this year – his little girl’s favourite show.
We didn’t find out whether Bianca was a girl or a boy for quite a while, as she was quite shy on the ultrasound. But once we did I was quite pleased we were having a girl. I had always heard that little girls had a special love for their daddy so I was quite looking forward to it, and in our case it has turned out to be true.
As Greta and I are raising one of each, we do tend to notice the differences between girls and boys. It may sound obvious, but girls are very girly. I mean, she liked pretty dresses, shoes and dolls almost immediately, and pink quickly became her signature colour.
I don’t know if it’s because she’s a girl or because she’s Bianca, but the hugs, kisses and general affection are also lovely. Plus she’s always dressing up, putting on shows and creating stories to entertain us; she’s lots of fun.
Bianca always was very independent and confident. I remember, on her first day at day care, Greta and I worried she would cry as we left, but she barely glanced in our direction. She’s also got a real soft-spot for all things theatrical, just like I do, and she loves it when I direct a show.
She always learns all the songs and dances. Looking back a few years, I directed panto when Bianca was just one year old, but she would climb up onto the side of the bath to sing and dance to one of the dance numbers for as long as we’d let her.
She’s still just like that, and already knows all the lyrics to the songs from Legally Blonde, which I’m directing in November – despite the fact we haven’t even started rehearsals yet.
As Bianca starts to get older, I’m really looking forward to seeing her blossom into a young woman. Some aspects of her character are wonderful; like her boundless enthusiasm for everything and her love of performing and dancing. I am really hoping to see her take these on into her future self.
Of course, it’s hard to look forward to the teenage years, but I’m hoping we can avoid the typical lack of communication. At the moment she tells me every single thing she does – good or bad. It can be extremely tiring at times, but I am sure I would miss it if she stopped and daddy suddenly wasn’t cool anymore.
After all, being a dad – or a parent in general – is quite a hard thing to do. I’m sure it was always challenging, but these days I think it is more so. We worry endlessly about whether we are doing things correctly, and get a barrage of contradicting opinions from so many different people. And, for some reason, there doesn’t seem to be a good manual to consult.
This Father’s Day all I want is to relax at home with my wife and children. Being so busy means that spending some quality time with Greta, Bianca and Seth is more than enough to look forward to.
And, of course, I’ll be eager to see what great cards and crafts they’ve made for me.
Tonio Paris is an ex-banker and the managing director of Sirap Ltd. He has two grown-up children, Kurt and Krista. He is getting ready to face one of the biggest milestones in any daddy’s life – walking his little girl down the aisle.
I remember being extremely nervous in the run-up to both my children’s births. Until they’re with you, you keep thinking of all the things that could go wrong. We knew before Krista was born that she was a girl and it was a great feeling, especially as we already had a boy.
Raising children, whatever their sex, is a pretty set routine, but many things also make them differ. When Kurt was growing up, I imagined he would be just like me – loving the outdoors, the sea and all sports, so I tried to lure him into all that. As it turns out, children have their own minds and they make their own choices. Krista, though, is my splitting image.
Unfortunately, when she was little, I was at the peak of my career and had little time to spend with my family. But I still loved whatever time I did have, and I remember what fun it was buying Krista clothes when she was younger – all the bright colours and having to choose just the right size.
I also remember an occasion when Krista was in a play in junior school; playing the witch in Wizard of Oz, being Krista, she just decided to ad-lib at one point – she grabbed her broom and pretended it was a guitar. The whole auditorium was in stitches.
On the flip side, there were the difficulties of the teenage years. Krista never took ‘no’ for an answer and somehow always managed to get her way. It was challenging to balance wanting to make her happy, while wanting to bring her up in the right way at the same time. I knew she was growing up and that I had to let go.
Now that her wedding is less than a year away, I have mixed feelings about it all. It’s going to be so tough watching her go. I remember, when Kurt got married, it didn’t really sink in until he got back from his honeymoon and popped home to pick up his car. That’s when I really realised he was gone.
Since my retirement nine years ago I have had plenty of opportunities to spend time with Krista – every step of the way throughout her exams.
We have had lunch together nearly every day during this time, chatting about what has been going on in her life and helping plan the wedding. It’s also so much fun going to her house to carry out an odd job or even just to open up for workmen. In a way I have made up for all the precious time I lost when she was little.
Having said that, I am, of course, looking forward to the wedding, as this is her special day and the start of her new life. Luckily this is Malta and we are a very close family, so we never really lose our children. They are always around, if not just to see us then because they need guidance or advice.
I realise now why my mother and most grandparents get so excited when the children are around, and I look forward to that becoming my life too. After all, life really is wonderful.