A reference to thebhj and his post about his daughter turning six.
There is this alien creature living in my house that happens to be my 13-year-old daughter. She gets herself up every morning while we lie sleeping. If not for her intrusion into our bedroom to use our bathroom I might not catch a glimpse of her before she slithers off to school.
Her routine starts at 5:45 am with a 16oz glass of orange juice and ESPN. She primps, obsesses and huffs, which also sometimes affords me the chance to notice her, until she jets out the front door to catch the bus. If I happen to rise early either out of ambition or a nudge from my wife I might embark on a pre-dawn encounter with this strange being. I might engage conversation with an offer to make a cheese sandwich for her lunch or I might get blitzed with snap finger demands like “can you make me an omelette?” or “where is my Northface?”.
So off she goes and I am left disoriented. No hugs but only a mumbling of “love you” in response to my “I LOVE YOU !!!” and I think maybe it’s just out of habit for her because I thought I should tell my children “I LOVE YOU” a million times a day since day one because I don’t ever remember hearing it myself growing up. And little girls and boys too like to hear and say “i love you” alot….but she is not little anymore. And I realize that I don’t get my ass out of bed early enough to just be there in the morning so she is not all alone and so grown up so fast. And why don’t I ? Well I should because I am sure this is the stuff she will remember and it’s getting really late in the game here.
And she comes home from school and maybe I’m home that day and maybe 2 days have passed since I have last seen her. You would never know I was in the room and she thinks that I am a plant table that someone placed in the middle of the kitchen floor and she digs right into the second half of that jar of Nutella with barely a hello. And I realize why I was afraid of girls in 8th grade and 9th & 10th…..and so on. And after “how was school?” falls flat on its face I get right into “when was the last time you cleaned the cat box?” and this is how I came to be known as the Dad who the only thing I talk to my daughter about is whether or not she has cleaned the cat box. So I agreed with my lovely wife that I will not be the one to inquire about the damn cat box anymore. Maybe I haven’t given it enough time but there have been no major breakthroughs in bonding and the fucking cat box has 5 days of shit in it. So another good reason to get my ass moving earlier …..I’ll scoop the poop okay.
And off she goes again to cheerleading practice this time. And it’s 4 days a week and like 8 hours on Sundays and it’s year-round because it’s not the cheerleading you’re thinking of. So she will be home by 9:30 pm, then she will eat dinner…either a plate that I left her or she will make herself an omelette if she doesn’t like what I’ve prepared and she makes a damn good omelette by now because we’ve worked on that together. And I’m not allowed to ask about her homework because she is a straight A student but I don’t know how she does it because she is always coming & going but mostly going. I might get lucky or the planets may align and I can steal a few minutes with her as we watch the Food Network and she enjoys the Whoopie Pie I’ve made for her because I believe that is my way to her heart and she recharges her batteries before bed.
And even though I’m also known as the Dad who hates competitive cheerleading because it sucks and they rape my wallet at the competitions by charging me admission to an event after I’ve already sunk thousands of dollars into gym fees, airfare, motel rooms, accessories and fucking crappy food……I support her endeavor because she loves it and she is awesome. And she is ripped, solid muscle and beautiful. And I don’t like to stereotype but the groupies and all the freaks that surround this whole racket make my skin squirm and the music is loud and throbbing and it goes on and on and on. So it just seems like another roadblock, another contrariety in our relationship.
I press on and frequently, politely beg for a hug, fearing adverse outcomes. Sometimes I’m obliged with a one-armed sideways hug because she is becoming a young women and I’m guessing she feels uncomfortable about her maturation and it makes me uncomfortable too. And I so often ask her out to lunch or a movie only to be rejected. And again I realize why I was afraid of girls and all the times that I wish I took more chances looking back maybe I’m glad that I didn’t.
This past Friday she left again with her Mom to Washington D.C. for another competition and right before she left I experienced another beautiful moment in my life, that I took the time to relish. As we stood there preparing to say goodbye, with her little sister hovering, she gave me a two armed hug, all shoulders… no chest and her little sister was so inspired that she exclaimed “I LOVE YOU!!” to her big sister and they hugged and Mom & Dad let out a huge Awww and each wiped away a tiny tear. At that moment I realized that the breakthroughs are fleeting and I might feel at times that they will never come again. But they do come, sometimes by surprise but often contrived or at least nudged along because relationships are hard work but if motivated by love the benefits are so sweet and so worth every bit of energy.
So I resolved to construct my Whoopie Pies and fill them with raspberry cream and drizzle them with melted Nutella and sprinkle them with powdered sugar in an effort to tame The Scorpion. I will take the nudgings and put them to good use….I will get my ass out of bed. I will not however disclose that the cake was made with Guinness Stout or enforce the Bear Hug for she may become startled and strike or retreat.