Tuesday, November 18, 2014

You

Dearest Daughter,

Weekend before last, we were having one of our periodic battles - the kind that always leave my male mind so confused because they seem to come from out of nowhere, more angry and intense than they have any right to be.

As I recall, it was about playgrounds. We had just come out of seeing Big Hero 6 at the movies and you wanted to follow up with a visit to a playground. But somehow every playground I suggested failed to meet with your approval. And then (as ALWAYS) I got lost - which did not help either of our tempers.

And at one point, you voiced your frustration that you ALWAYS had to pick. That sometimes I ought to step up and say what I wanted instead of always pushing the responsibility off on you. And after all the arguing and shouting I was just at my wit's end. And as I could not think of anything else to do, I just told you the plain truth.

I think I made you cry. I'm not sure. We were in the driveway sitting in the car and you jumped out and ran to your hiding space behind one of the bushes in the back. I am sorry for that. I hate making you cry. Eventually I came and got you and we played hide and seek and all was forgotten.

But I'm writing what I said here because I don;t want it forgotten. Long after I am gone, I want you to remember it, and I want to remember how important you are. So here is what I said (as best I can recall):

When I was little, I rarely got to play with my Dad. He was always at work. He worked long, terrible hours, so I didn't see him all that much. And when I did, he mostly wanted to be left alone to work out his stress in the garden.  When he was dying, on the very last day we sat and talked together, he told me that looking back, it was the only thing that he really regretted.

He said that back when he was growing up, that's what they were taught a good dad did - he worked and provided for his family. So he had always tried terribly hard to be a good dad the only way he knew. I told him that I understood - and I did and do. But he looked so sad as he was talking that I promised myself that if I ever had kids I would not make that same mistake.  And I've made LOTS of mistakes - you know it and I know it. Sometimes quite dreadful mistakes. But not that one.

There's so much I've wanted to give you growing up but was unable to because we never had much money. So I have given you time. I gave you every minute that I could.. to play... to go places.. to explore (and to be just plain silly at times).

Because I like being with you more than anything else in the world.

I know I frustrate the hell out of you when you keep asking "but what do YOU want to do?"or "What park do YOU want to play at?" and I have no good answer. And I know you are just being thoughtful and trying to look out for what makes me happy - because you are and always have been a good and thoughtful person.

But you see - that's just the point. It doesn't matter. I don't care where we go or what we play - cards, Barbies, tag... whatever. As long as I'm playing it with you - that's all I care about.  You don't have to worry about it.

If I'm with you, I'm already happy.