Mr. and Mrs. Bill and Nicole Callaghan. (Courtesy John Rice)

 After launching my second daughter onto the Sea of Matrimony, I feel qualified to give advice on how to be Father of the Bride. The process starts long before the wedding, when she’s a little girl. 

If your daughter is a tomboy, be proud she’s unafraid to mix it up with the neighborhood kids. But don’t give her a haircut that’s so short, she’s mistaken for a boy. You can offset soccer and softball, by allowing her to enjoy gentler pursuits like tap and jazz.

Besides sports and dance, let her explore other activities. This might mean buying her a musical instrument, a sewing machine and a pottery wheel. Don’t be discouraged if they collect dust. She should get a chance to try things she’s not good at. When she shows a flair for photography, hang one of her works on the wall.

If she tells you her heel hurts, believe her! – Even if x-rays and exams are negative. After the piece of glass finally pops out – never doubt her word again. If her middle school teacher tells her she has pizzazz. Look it up in the dictionary. When you find it means “irresistible charm” have a sign made with the word and definition.

Take her and her best friend to their first concert. Introduce her to her favorite dessert. Make sure she listens to plenty of Van Morrison. If she asks about family history, tell her tales about your crazy aunts and uncles. Take her to a reading of Irish short stories. Invite her to a French musical. Show her some old black and white movies.

When she feels guilty about exploring the Internet, instead of doing her homework, tell her it’s not worth goofing off if she’s not going to enjoy it. As her beauty grows, walk a few steps behind her in public places. Set your eyes on “laser” and glare at anyone who tries to stare.

Play golf together, just to admire her graceful swing. Give her the rides and spending money she needs. Listen to stories about the antics of her and her high school friends without judgment. 

After you drop her off for her first day of college, don’t be afraid to pull over and cry. Encourage her in the good jobs she finds and trust her judgment when she quits the bad ones. Hope she finds the love of her life. Someone who provides, protects and puts her first.

Make sure he comes from a classy family who also embrace her. Give your wedding guests a taste of Forest Park with candy from La Maison de Bonbon. Hire a rocking band. Hope the groom’s family has an uncle who can tear it up on guitar and a grandpa’ who still hits the dance floor in his 90’s. 

During the band’s last song, form a circle around the couple, with both families locking arms. Your Father of the Bride job may be over but the special bond the two of you have formed will last forever.  

John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.

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