My friend Maria was mentioning to me the other day that her husband spoils their daughter - she gets everything she wants by merely asking. I laughed it off and attributed it that unique relationship between fathers and daughters. But I didn't realize the implications of my own words until this past Friday night.
As I have one son who lives at home in New York right now, a seat had opened up at the Shabbat table right between me and my husband. I asked my 10 year old son if he wanted it - after all he was sitting on the other side of the table, furthest away from his parents. He jumped at the offer. My daughter became upset, and as she sits on the end of the table opposite my husband, I managed to change seats with another son so that she sat by me.
Come dinner time, my daughter was in tears. She wanted to sit between her father and me, and said she was promised that seat. She ran off crying to her room. In truth, that's where I would have left her - I'm not a big spoiler. But guess who is? Her father went off to smooth things out, and actually got my son to move his seat. I was furious, but said nothing. Dinner continued in peace, only I was pissed.
Saturday morning, when my daughter came to give me a Shabbat kiss, I told her that it wasn't right to make her brother move, and that I did not promise her the seat. She was unmoved, refused to accept my version of things and that's where we left it.
I got to thinking about my conversation with Maria. Yes, there is definitely a relationship between fathers and daughters that goes much deeper, even, then that between husbands and wives. I supposed it is the father's place to spoil his daughter, however unprepared that makes her for life's challenges. And it's my place to love them both.