The event we shared at her preschool, actually called "Donuts with Dad," went beautifully. Her class sang a few cute songs and presented early Father's Day cards to the gathering of proud pops. Then, after enjoying powdered donuts and juice together at an outdoor picnic table, I began the painful process of setting up my exit. I needed to get to the office, and my little darling was not at all interested in bringing an end to our bonding.
"We'll play together tonight, OK sweetie?" I said gently. But her lower lip quivered and tears welled up. Heartbreaking, I tell you. I decided to push her on the swing for a few minutes to avoid a meltdown, then walked her over to a group of her friends playing in the sand box.
A smooth departure looked promising until she abruptly threw her arms around me and wouldn't let go. Who knew a 3-year-old could squeeze that hard? I held her patiently as a flood of tears dampened the shoulder of my Brooks Brothers button-down. Luckily, her perceptive (and absolutely wonderful) teacher witnessed the distress and persuaded my daughter to help her retrieve something from the classroom. My little angel agreed, even as the whimpering persisted. As difficult as it was, I made my getaway.
Wow. What a disorienting jumble of pleasure and pain. But one thing's for sure: It would be hard for me to pinpoint anything more meaningful, more powerful, than the love of a child.