Did I, perhaps, just get served by my own daughter? Could it be? Surely, my darling, baby girl couldn’t have just shut me down.
I SMS’d her earlier, asking her to call me after her classes got done. It’s a topnotch day here in the Land of Lakes, and absolute perfect drive-in movie weather. Before her evening’s dance card filled up with all sorts of teenaged nonsense, I wanted to scoop in and lay claim to her evening.
So…she just called me. Not five minutes ago. I presented my case to her, the centerpiece of which was simply that I really miss my kids, and I really wanted to spend an evening with just the three of us. It’s been too long.
Well, that part went just fine. I didn’t even have to pull out my secret weapon: grilled BBQ salmon. That always works. It’s a well-known fact that my grilled BBQ salmon is the best in the world. No…I am NOT exaggerating.
Then…I don’t know… Perhaps I was prattling on. Strange as it seems, it is a (remote!) possibility. Okay…I probably was prattling on. ‘Cause now I think of it, I can’t even remember what the hell I was talking about.
But that’s not the point!
In the middle of a sentence, she cuts me off.
“Dad,” she says, a hint of impatience in her voice. “The signal’s not the best. We need to wrap up here.”
All I could muster was a “Uh…yeah. Okay. Umm…see you when I get home, then. Ah…love ya.”
“Love you, too. Gotta go.”
Okay. Now rewind just a titch… Did she just say, “We need to wrap up here”??? No shit, she did!
Oh, my gawd! I just got shut down! I just got served.
It’s really real. My kid’s crossed over. The days of the “magic dad” are a thing of the past. Worse, he’s dead and buried. And the only record he ever existed takes the form of some dusty relics buried in the cellar of some obscure and forgotten museum somewhere.
For today, I have officially become the “dad who’s to be humored”. I am the “prattling dad”! I require shutting down!
When, oh when, did this happen?
I mean, I know when it happened. I saw it. I was just talking to Lisa and Rob Bouta about it Saturday night. It’s the stuff that Normandale College is made of. It was the day of Lynn’s funeral.
I didn’t need anyone to tell me how adult Sydney was as she stood before over 500 people and delivered what is arguably one of the most lucid, touching, and insightful eulogies any person could give another. There she stood, unflappable, as she bore the burden of the family, of the world that Monday morning. Never once faltering. Just moving forward. Better than most grown ups I know.
I sat and watched her, and the tears rolling down my cheeks were only partially for Lynn. The rest were for another death—the death of my little girl. Of my little Peppermint Pattie, as Debi often called her. For what stood before the congregants that day may have chronologically been a teenager, but in stature, in poise, in grace, she was every inch all grown up. There she was, in that moment, transformed.
And this amazing young woman stood before us.
I’ll remember it for the rest of my days.
BUT..! Dammit! That doesn’t mean she has the right to see me for what I really am!!! She’s not supposed to get that I’m really not the cool magic dad she always thought I was, or at very least was still naïve enough—or simply kind enough—to let me believe I was.
She has no right to strip away that veneer! For god’s sake! I’m the dad, right??? I’m not just some other guy. I’m not some equal! I’m the freakin’ DAD!
Alas, I might as well just get used to it. No sense, I suppose, in getting my undies in a bundle. I did it. I created a monster. Now she’s all smart and pithy and clever and sophisticated and…grown up. And from this day on, the only way I’ll get to be the “magic dad” is by silent agreement, by a wink, wink, nudge, nudge between us, when she graces me with a few fleeting moments of nostalgia.
At her whim and fancy, of course.
For now, today, I TRUE-ly realize. There is another woman in my life. And she, like her mother, is a force to be reckoned with.