Oh Lord, what have I done? You have turned me into my father, and my children into me. It says in the “Good Book” that the sins of the fathers will be vest unto the 3rd and 4th generation. Does this mean that they have to go through EVERYTHING I did “growing up?”
I have two wonderful, beautiful, intelligent, rebellious, independent daughters that I wouldn’t trade for the world. It hasn’t always been that way. Believe it or not Daddy was not a perfect saint (nor was his father) and there might have been the occasional indiscretion during their collective childhood that might not have seemed politically correct.
Having been a professional photographer since high school (thanks Cindy) and also possessing a rather unique sense of humor (thanks Frank Zappa) there have been instances where my more devilish side took precedence over what my mother (and current wife) would have thought acceptable. If your child is already hysterical and throwing an incredible hissy fit for not getting her way (down to the swimming pool fast enough) what harm could evolve from taking advantage of their relative lack of mobility (being 18 lbs at the time) and hanging them on the hotel coat rack – just for a quick photo? Child Protection Service does have a statute of limitations, don’t they?
There also might have been the occasional excuse to throw a giant party in the back yard, invite the whole neighborhood and entire Christmas list, buy a couple of kegs and have my buddies bring over a band or two and play music ‘till the cops come. Thankfully it was usually an excusable occasion, like St. Patrick’s day in June, and usually a reasonable hour when they finally broke us up because the neighbors across the canyon (a mile and a half away) began complaining around 1:00AM. It is always nice to have a few friends on the police force. There is nothing quite as heartwarming as finding your three year old toddling across the living room floor (as the adults all migrated outside) helping mommy and daddy by draining the last inch of beer, mai-tai’s, and margaritas’ out of all of the cups lining the tables. The next morning was not usually a good one for any of us. Thanks again for that CPS reprieve.
Having had the neighborhood built-in pool, the trampoline, the pool table in the basement, etc. My babies were raised in, shall we say, a convivial environment. Don’t get me wrong, we went to Church at least once a week, were involved in worship ministries, field trips, the wife taught Sunday school, etc. Just a couple of times a year we let our hair down, so to speak. Having myself grown up in a similar environment there was no sense of hypocrisy at all. My parents’ best friends were good old German Missouri Synod Lutherans, and every Sunday after church we’d get together with a few dozen folks, including the Pastor, for cocktails and a bar-b-que.
My wife and I were good enough parents in most ways; helped with homework, softball games and sodas with the other kids parents in the parks on Sunday afternoons, lots of sleep over’s, and plenty of hours on weekend mornings watching Barney and Sesame street. There were piano lessons, they both got there kiddy Black Belts in Karate, and we put them into a Spanish immersion school. Our two little perfect babies really never gave us any trouble at all for so long. Then there was High School.
I’m not saying either turned bad, or got into a real huge amount of trouble, but the attitudes changed. As is the custom in California my wife decided that not all marriages were made in heaven, and that the grass was indeed far greener on the far side of the hill and we divorced when the girls were just entering High School. Now I’m certainly not saying that I was any saint, and that she didn’t have a reason or two to want a change of scenery, just that the “better or worse thing” was something I took seriously. Anyhow, timing being what it was we still tried our damndest to provide a stable environment for the kids. I moved, and so that the kids didn’t have to move during high school we split the assets in a way that allowed them to keep the house that they grew up in.
Partly, I’m sure, blaming me for that and a few other faults, and partly that they just reached the age that I remember so well as spreading wings and a total disdain for authority, Daddy became persona-non-grata for each of them for a time. Thank God it seemed to alternate years, and one of them was always being at least cordial. Remembering my own high school and early college years, I think most of the time I came home it was to visit a girlfriend. We didn’t hang out a ton, but that was just the way my parents were treated by then too. We still had the annual waters ski trips to our secret lake, but instead of cousins and their mom’s family (we stayed friends, but that just got a bit weird for a while) the girls started bringing their friends, and boyfriends, and coming up in their own cars.
The eldest graduated Valedictorian in her high school, and is the case with so many second children; the younger had no interest in competing for grades. She is just as smart and will do just as well in life, but the 4.3 thing just wasn’t in the cards at the time. They also both took turns being the “wild child.”
After both threatening to spread their wings and go to school back east, the younger one ended up attending my alma mater of UCSB, and the eldest ended up at USD. I guess dad brought them up to be California kids after all.
What brought this up is that currently they are both calling me, unsolicited, just to talk. This is MAJOR and recent. My older one had some boyfriend problems and needed a few extra daddy sessions, and my baby had some issues with attendance, but that has been resolved and she actually is going to summer school this year and is actually graduating a year early. I am taking the long weekend and driving down with my new wife (both kids went to dads wedding two years ago) to see my baby in SB. We spent the first week of the summer with the eldest at my new wife’s family reunion in Utah. Great people, but the heat made that a huge sacrifice. They have both turned out with wonderful aspects of their mother, and of me. They are independent, directed, hard working, stubborn, loving, kind, bossy, empathetic, and giving young ladies and I could not be more proud.
The point is this: for those of you with young ones, be patient. They will hurt and destroy you, disrespect and loath you, scare the bejesus out of you, piss you off, and generally take you to the poor house. If you’ve done a reasonable job of loving them and nurturing them, with the grace of God (and a little luck) they will turn out just fine.