Morning Ritual This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

January 6, 2012
“Let’s try this one more time, sweetie. Put the larger part over the smaller part and flip through. Wrap the large portion around the back – no, not the front – there you go. Then back around the front again. Bring it up through the opening. Put the long part through the loop. Let me do the slipknot, Marissa. It’s the daddy’s job.”

I was always sure to wake up before my sister on school days. It was important to see my dad off to work and spend as much time with him as I could before he left. We’d always go downstairs and munch raisin bran, which I detested, but ate because my dad loved it. After we drank the last sips of orange juice, we’d stretch and made a sound from the back of our throats that sounded like, “Ahhh.” Whenever we did that, my mom would shoot my father The Look. He’d just laugh as we raced up the stairs to his room for a 10-minute tie-tying lesson.

To this day, I don’t understand how my dad had so much patience with me. I must have choked him many times, yet he was always willing to show me exactly how it was done. While tying a necktie wasn’t an essential skill, it was imperative for me to be able to do what my dad did, exactly as he did it. Somehow, Daddy knew this; we’ve always had an unspoken understanding about everything that happened in our lives, even today.

My dad would fold up his collar and tell me I was ready for my lesson. I remember climbing onto the bed that seemed huge, tumbling over to him and feeling triumphant that I was almost as tall as he. As my mom watched from the doorway with amusement, I meticulously grasped the ends of the tie while my dad gave instructions. When my masterpiece came out a mess, I knew Daddy wouldn’t be upset. Eventually, with his help, the knot would be perfect.

Looking back, I know it wasn’t the tying of the necktie that was so significant. It was the fact that something so insignificant could bring a father and daughter so close.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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