Monday, June 22, 2009

Fathers and daughter

Every year at this time one is faced with the need to talk of fathers and their importance. Certainly my dad is important to me--and I hope that I have made that clear over the times I have talked of him. Dads often get overlooked--a function of the roles the two parents have played in the cultural history of this nation. Moms have had more sustained contact with the kids (the ones required to do the remembering) and Dads sort of stood in the background and did the silent, stern, money winner thing. This leads to more distant, less easily celebrated relationship.

But we should all step back and say thanks to our Dads, whomever and wherever they are. Sometimes being a leader is a quiet job that doesn't get recognized until after the fact. Just hope you have a moment or two to turn around and say thanks.


My oldest daughter was unexpectedly thrown out into the wider world this weekend.

Sunday afternoon, while I was running some errands (buying and then constructing a bench to go on our front stoop) the decision was made to invite one of Sarah's school friends over to play for the afternoon. All well and good, I thought. As a result of this decision, the parents got in contact with one another--something that is increasingly rare in our work-centered, carefully scheduled lives. And the friends' mother suggested that she was going to be taking her child to Zoombezi Bay (the waterpark connected to the zoo) a lot this summer and wouldn't it be a good thing if our two daughters' could go together?

Very quickly, we found ourselves agreeing to the following course of action:

1. Pay half on a summer pass to the water park.

2. Let our daughter (once a week) spend the night with her friend so that she could spend the entirety of the next day at the water park with her friend and the mother.

*DISCLAIMER: the mother in question is a nurse and works long hours four days a week and then has three days off--hence the ability (and need) to go to the park for long stretches.*

3. And so it was done. Money exchanged hands and off our daughter went to disappear for a day, having fun the likes of which she never gets with her biological brood.

I feel that I should also reiterate that the mother in question is one of our daughter's Girl Scout troop leaders, so she has experience with our daughter and we have experience putting her within her care. But, it still was a bit of a whirlwind decision. I am happy that our daughter gets some extended time with one of her friends and I'm also glad that she is gaining the opportunity to experience herself outside of us for a change. But I'll admit it was a bit of a realization when she just wasn't around.

Naturally, our other daughter (at least, the one with enough mental ability and sense of personality and permanence) was a bit disappointed that she wasn't part of this elaborate scheme. And I'm sympathetic to her feelings, but there isn't much that I can do about it. Parenting these days seems to bend over backwards to equalize the experience for each sibling, never allowing them to understand that each child is a distinct person--almost always at different periods of development and age. This means that equality won't be achieved while they spend the majority of the lives in the same house.

None of that (left unsaid, to be sure) helps her sense of abandonment and "that's NOT FAIR!!" but again, I can give you plenty of stories where my life wasn't fair.

(I'm just a cruel person, I guess.)

-- Posted From My iPhone (so, I apologize in advance for any typos I missed)

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