everyday will be a random
posting of daily events or
memories of my daily life
that don’t translate
well into poetry
I should have known when she spent an entire summer weekend dutifully making notations in pencil on the back of every page of a very neat black clasped, inch thck manuscript. Curious, I inquired, thinking it was something she had written. As she slowly wrapped her left arm around the stack of paper, protective like any good editor and gathering it closer as she lay flat on the pull out futon, answering in a very quiet but deliberate voice,
‘It’s Anna’s autobiography, she asked me to read it and take notes.’
I sat there in my favorite writing chair in the room we shared when she sleeps over, mouth slightly ajar and more than a little dumbfounded. Cbear, my daughter was 12 last year.
I guess I should have known then.
Maybe it should have dawned on me a few months later when she had her choice of languages to study, after testing into one of the better high schools that includes a new advanced 7th and 8th grade college prep program.
‘I decided to continue Chinese. The United States and China wiil be doing a joint space venture someday and I want to be there.’
Spoken so matter of factly, I could only stammer,
‘Uh…sure, that makes a lot of sense Cbear.’
We had spoken about the possibility of her learning French and how it might inspire her writing, poetry and the blossoming creative side of her personality. She’s been learning Chinese for 5 years now, about as long as she’s expressed the burning desire to be an astro-physicist. Stephen Hawking is one of her favorite reads.
It should have dawned on me, right then and there.
I mean, how dense of a father can I be to not realize that my little girl is growing up in leaps and bounds so profound I am continually playing catchup, constantly trying to assimilate and absorb this not so sudden reality? Any comparison, any attempt to relate to how I was at her age has long ago become obsolete becaue there is none.
It feels as though I’m flying by the seat of my parental pants, trying to grasp a shooting star.
And it’s not that I’m attempting to hold her back, that would be as selfish and unfair as it would be impossible but….I just keep wondering where these 13 years went, I worry that her childhood is going by too quickly.
I wonder if she feels the same whooooosh! of time that I do.
Cbear lives with her mom and as a child of a divorce is about as well adjusted as you could expect a kid to be. There are the inevitable day to day details I really regret missing over the years with our every Wednesday, every other weekend sleepover arrangement, but when we’re together we talk about stuff, real stuff.
She and I have always talked, our conversations began when she was very young as my way to resolve conflict, when she occasionally misbehaved and needed some guidance and direction. It was very purposeful, a night and day difference in how conflict was so called ‘resolved’ when I was a kid, the back of the hand injustice I was given as guidance by my parents.
And if there ever was a conversation that
crystalized just how grown up this 13 year
old daughter of mine is now, it is the one
we had a few weeks ago standing in the
kitchen of our apartment after school.
Soon after moving into Scout’s apartment, we did an assesment of what we now owned together. With both of us being good cooks fond of our own special pots and utensils, the large but poorly designed kitchen that held promise, needed a complete redesign. I cooked professionally for 4 years, and being borderline OCD I designed it to resemble a restaurant kitchen, lots of stainless steel, almost everything exposed, organized and easily accesible.
Every utensil, pot, saute pan and dish had its own place.
I took the entire kitchen down to the studs on the walls and floors and started from scratch, doing most of the work myself. The project took about 6 months, and there were days we wondered if we had bitten off more than we could chew.
But now all these years later, our kitchen like kitchens in most people’s homes is the hub of ours too, the place where the day to day life of our family begins and ends, where lists are made, food is shared and conversations had. Ours is not a sit down kitchen with a table, but it is very comfortable with a large counter where we sit and eat, work on laptops, and chatter about our day.
And if you’ve been to other people’s homes for a dinner or party, the kitchen is usually where all the adults eventually find themselves, the magnet of proximity to food and beverages is just too appealing. So in retrospect, it was fitting that Cbear and I had this converstaion in our kitchen that night.
I knew the minute she began talking this was no ordinary conversation, turning off the burners on the stove I turned around to face her eye to eye, heart to heart because what she was telling me needed every bit of my attention and careful consideration. We spoke for about an hour, I listened a lot, I asked questions and she was as direct and truthful and matter of fact as I’ve ever known her to be. After I took her head in my hands, kissed her forehead as I always do, we hugged for a long time before she returned to her bedroom to resume her homework.
I stood there for a long while letting the warmth and wonder of the moment wash over me, shaking my head some, tearing up a little too. I thought about the first time this person, this now young adult and I first met, in the delivery room after the horribly traumatic ordeal of the emergency C section had subsided, where it was very touch and go for both her and her mom, when the nurse finally handed me this tiny bundle of blankets with a baby inside, how tiny this new life felt in my large hands and the truly beautific smile the nurse had on her face as she told me my daughter and her mom were healthy.
I can recognize that tranquil, clear eyed matter of fact innocence now, it was there when I looked in her hazel eyes that night, as i kissed her forehead for the first time and just before the nurse came back to take her to her mom, the promise I whispered in her little ear, that the injustice I experienced as a kid by hand and from the mouths of my parents, would never be experienced by her. Ever. It would end with me.
And I stood there a while longer, eventually turning on the burners again to resume dinner for us both thinking about promises, that we don’t hear or read much about them these days, these days of instantly unfriending someone, where divorce is so commonplace that more than half of Cbear’s schoolmates are living in single parent households, where commitment and devotion seem like such an ancient concept.
I made two promises early in my life, one I broke staying five years longer than I should have in my frst marriage, a marriage that had become loveless, and in hindsight a promise made to fix what my parents broke, my childlike attempt to repair my own family.
I kept the promise I made to Cbear, easily the most important thing I’ve ever accomplished in this life and the woooosh! of time brought me such a profound and divine humility and gratitude that she wanted our living arangements to change,
that she wanted to spend more time with her dad.
We decided a week here and a week with her mom would be best for all of us, and during the first week we were talking about stuff again. I’ve been revealing a little about my life to her when I was sure she was ready. We were looking at old photos of her when she was a baby and I told her of the promise I made to her that night as I held her for the first time.
And I could see it was she who was listening quite intently this time, and when I finished she looked at me eye to eye, heart to heart and said,
‘Thank you dad’,
and we hugged for a long time, right there in the kitchen.
everyday….Bucket of Glads