The Oral Report

Standing up in front of the class was never so much fun!

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Location: River City, United States

The rantings and ravings of a mom of three wonderful girls as she finds new love while working like a dog and shaking her fist at the system. You know. Pretty much like everybody else.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

A Swing and A Miss

Yesterday was [Kid 1]'s 17th birthday. That's right. She was almost a (certainly unintentional) birthday gift for Mark Gibson! It was a milestone for her, of course, but maybe, at least in her eyes, something much more. Not quite a coming of age, but dangerously close to it. A senior in high school. Practically grown.

I suppose I'm not too old to remember how I felt at that age. My dad bought me the first roses I ever got in my life for my 17th birthday. I remember him telling me, as he placed a dozen yellow roses in my hands, that he always felt that the 17th birthday was so much more special than #16 or #18. That there was a rite of passage that he always felt was entirely under-appreciated.

I never really understood why. Later, it occurred to me that, perhaps, he was more interested in making it so. Just for me. Making it more special than the day you could get your driver's permit OR the day you became a legal adult. Not an easy sales job. By doing so, he turned something as simple as giving me flowers into a much more significant gesture. It was like I was sharing something special with him. And that only the two of us knew it. That he was welcoming me into some secret part of him, that made me feel closer somehow. He made me feel like a fairytale princess all my life. Not just when I was six. Heh. He still does.

Highlander and I had plans to take the whole fam (including [Kid 1]'s significant other) out for dinner, and then back to our place for some birthday dessert. A walk up to the local pizzeria on a lovely, summery evening, holding Highlander's hand while youngsters were scampering about us, was, I'm sure, one of those memories he holds in his noggin. Her significant other brought her a beautiful framed photo of the two of them together. Which was incredibly sweet and had her melting. We got her a cellphone. Something she's wanted for years, but, because this child is one of THOSE children. You know the ones. Phone receiver grafted to the side of her head. Potential cellphone overrages rivalling the national debt. Well, everyone has been afraid to go there. We're not wealthy. Not even close.

This kid is definitely the techno-kid, though. So, H and I did a little research and found some Pay-As-You-Go phones from Cingular. Basically, you can't get overrages. If you spend all your minutes, your phone stops working. I'm pretty sure they made this plan for my kid. Anyway, we are covering the cost of the phone, start up and the first months minutes. After that, she's on her own. Either she loads minutes on it and uses it, or she doesn't. At some point, when she learns the valuable lesson of responsible cellphone use, maybe we can look at another plan. Hopefully, she'll be working and old enough to do it herself.

In any event, she was so over the top about getting her own phone that the fact that it had some limitations seemed minor to her. I hope she continues to feel that way. She had assumed we were getting her some DVD's she'd been wanting badly. I'm glad we got her something she wanted even more.

[Kid 1]'s dad had planned to stop by around 6PM to drop off a gift and wish our girl a happy birthday. At first, I didn't think he was going to come in. When she answered the door, he handed her a card and stood out in the hallway of our building. She walked back towards the center of the room, so that he could step in, but he just stayed there. She looked at me, not understanding, and I invited him in. He gave me a look like he wasn't sure he wanted to, sighed, hesitated a little more, and then stepped inside. The unfortunate reality of recent turmoil between us has made things very tense. He wished her a happy birthday, as [Kid 3] leaped and danced around him, excited to see him, and demanding his attention as she does.

He kept waiting for [Kid 1]'s reaction to his gift (which was inside the card). I wasn't sure what to expect. Generally, we coordinate gifts, so as not to duplicate, but this time, he said he wanted to keep it a surprise (which I can certainly understand and respect) and that his gift was so unique that he doubted we'd be able to duplicate it. Consequently, we had no idea what was on the little card inside the envelope. She got a puzzled look on her face and turned the little card over...and back. I couldn't tell if she was confused or upset. I asked what it was. She rolled her eyes at me.

"It's a fifteen minute ride on a bi-plane.", her dad offered. She just stood there. "Cool." I said. She wasn't as convinced. So obviously so, that her dad said, "You don't have to do it if you don't want to. I just thought it would be fun.". "For you.", she whispered. My ex is a big airplane afficionado. The kids and I, well, we appreciated his passion for them, but don't really share it. [Kid 1] was bordering on ungracious, but she thanked him for the gift and gave him a hug.

After he left, Highlander and I talked to her a little. She was clearly disappointed. "Just another example of how he has no idea who I am or what I like. This is something HE'D like. I've never remotely shown any interest in doing something like this. I want to take it back." Highlander told her that she should give it a try. She might enjoy it. It was a chance in a lifetime and she should embrace the opportunity. I explained that she probably couldn't return it. But that, like Highlander said, she should give it a shot. "It probably cost him a lot of money, you know, and, after all, it might be a lot of fun."

She's not convinced, but maybe a little time to think about it will help. The older girls are still so hurt by him. It's sad to see him trying, so hard, to rebuild things between them, and falling again and again. He dug an awfully big hole. I wish I knew how to tell him he could fix it. Though I doubt he'd listen. He certainly didn't when I could have helped him avoid all this in the first place.(And the part of me that has to keep trying to work on it for him on this end...for my girls' sake...still resents that I'm doing clean up work for bad decisions he made in the face of good advice.) I know he loves them, but they're grown up and he doesn't know who they are. And boy are they ever insulted by that.

I know he'll keep trying. At least, I'm pretty sure of it. Patience has never been his strong suit when it comes to issues involving sensitivity. (So many memories, for them and me, of having a down day and him reminding me not to feel sorry for myself and to "get over it"...does that work for anyone?) I'm hopeful he'll continue to patiently work on repairing the damage in their relationship. And that they'll see, and begin to appreciate, the effort he's putting into it.

It's hard not to reflect on my own relationship with my dad, and make comparisons, when these things happen. How very lucky I am that I had a wise and loving dad. In the meantime, last night was another strike for [Kid 1]'s dad.

4 Comments:

Blogger Julia said...

That's a tough one. I know quite a few adults who still hold grudges against their fathers. Those are wounds that don't heal well. And if the parent dies before amends can be made, sometimes they never heal.

Hope she has a happy day, inspite of the disappointing gift.

6/01/2006 2:17 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Please, forward my best birthday wishes to Kid #1! She is a valued member if the Gemini family.

6/01/2006 3:33 PM  
Blogger Your Girl Friday said...

I have received many bad gifts and know the feeling.

He is trying to repair the damage by getting closer to her, trying to see if they can share an interest together.

My Dad did this to me with a Monty Python video when I was 14. I was absolutely horrifyed .. "Monty who??!"
He wanted to share something he loved with me in the hope we could share something together. And it worked.

He has done this many times... and now I know that every gift I get from him will be thoughtful and interesting... even if I don't like it.

6/01/2006 8:16 PM  
Blogger SuperFiancee said...

Julia -

The wounds are deep. And he doesn't even understand or acknowledge them. In fact, truly believes that I have somehow brainwashed his children against him. Not only is that the farthest thing from what I want for any of them, I would never do something so heinous to my girls. I could never live with myself if I thought I was, even remotely, the cause of their anguish. She did have a nice day, in spite of the brief turbulence. (Though, she's been poo-pooing, ever so slightly, the pre-paid plan on the cellphone. She wanted something different, but I need to see some more responsibility from her before I am willing to go there.)

Mark -

I have passed along your well-wishes. Thanks for the thoughts!

YGF -

I'm hopeful that, once she's had a little time to think about the possibility, she'll embrace the gift. There seems to be an issue with him hinting (she says promising) to get her something else entirely (a digital camera) and then showing up with the ticket for the plane ride. I wasn't aware of that until after I posted the entry. So many layers...

As I mentioned to Highlander, there are quite a few things he could do to be mending fences. There have been improvements, but, overall, they've been incremental. The girls are young (not very wise) and are certainly not the most intuitive females on the planet. And they don't see much in the way of changes. And he insists that he shouldn't have to show them. It's an impass, of course. While I've tried gently pushing on both sides, everyone is resisting. As Julia's advised in the past, it's just not always my job to fix these things between them. Sometimes, though, I want so much for them that I can't seem to help it.

6/02/2006 9:25 AM  

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