The List

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Since I was a little girl, I’ve been a little too boy crazy for my own good. My five-year-old crushes entailed fantasies of wedding gowns and epic declarations of love; I was a hopeless romantic from the start.

I’ve always had a “List”. Every girl does. This list consists of necessary traits for their partner, spouse, or, in my case, prince. Some Lists start and end with money, others list intellect as number one, but my List, as a five year, consisted of six simple, yet crucial traits: kind, vegetarian, sense of humor, good swing dancer, loves to shop with me, and handsome.

Most of these traits seem pretty standard and universal, as if I put these traits on my list because I was supposed to. “Loves to shop with me” because what woman doesn’t dream about it? “Vegetarian” because how could we live together and raise six children (I’ve always been ambitious) if our diets conflicted? “Swing dancing”, however, was a trait I’ve always deemed necessary, but have never known the origin. Looking back, it must’ve come from my father whirling my mother around on our living room floor, or wherever there was music playing. To me, it was magic.

I didn’t realize until later that the living room dancing was the very origin of my entire List. Even as my List would change overtime (and change, it most certainly did), the origin stayed the same.

My father was Prince Charming to me. He had pumpkin goop hands, Tickle Monster fingers, and strong shoulders meant for little girls’ legs. He had the arms of a King and a quiet kindness that lingers like his Saturday night aftershave. He was the morning pillow fight, the two-wheeler lessons, the ice cream cone before dinner. I would subconsciously look for him in every boy in my class, looking for the Prince Charming who could be to me what he was to my mother. Even as a five-year-old, I knew what really makes someone a “prince”. He was Superman.

As I grew older, instead of princes, my fantasies pertained to popular boy band obsessions. But my growing did not stop there (luckily), and my fantasies became stale and realistic, but never less romantic. I dreamed of futures with cute boys in my class who teased me, boyfriends in our texting relationships, and finally a serious, adult, two-year relationship.

My List changed. I no longer care about “loving to shop with me” (not even my father likes that), and I have much higher expectations than just “kind” and “sense of humor”. But even still, I subconsciously look for that swing dance in the living room; the origin of my values, my morals, and my List.

As I’ve grown from an eight-year-old to eighteen, I’ve found more to my Father than pumpkin goop hands and a lingering kindness, though those are certainly there are the same. The more exposed I am to the world, the more I realize what an anomaly my father is. He comes home every night for family dinner, and then insists on doing the dishes. He’s the peacekeeper in fights between sisters, he’s the driver to school in the morning, to dance class at night. He adores my mother, honestly and apparently. His love for her, from what I can tell, is in a 25-year honeymoon phase. He holds her hand, he looks at her like she’s magic. He’s the boss who gives up power for his employees, he’s the business man who donates his money to charities. I’ll spend the rest of my life wondering how in the world he has enough time and patience to do all these things. The only answer I can come up with is what I’ve suspected since I was a three-year-old princess on his shoulders; he is Superman.

I’ll spend my whole life searching for a Superman to match him, even though that is most likely impossible. My List is now high expectations, but I’ve learned not to settle. My mother didn’t, and I won’t either.

I’ve realized our Lists come from the people we come from. I was fortunate enough to come from a List of high standards. From the time we’re born, we’re taught what we deserve and what is out there, whether our parents realize it or not. I hope someday to find the one who succeeds this List, the check in every box, not just for myself, but for my future daughter who will undoubtedly deserve a List as hard to fulfill as mine. What traits would you want your daughter to put on her list?

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