Franny came home last night after a three day weekend. SeaFed has been dropping her off early at his convenience if he’s in Seattle, which is great with me. This is in lieu of dropping her off on Monday mornings. When she came home I was watching an episode of Mad Men, which Franny has been calling The Combed Hair Man Show for many years when she catches glimpses of it. I like this, because it’s like the bad Icelandic translation or something. I try to just let her drop back into our lives naturally when she comes back and she flopped down next to me on the couch.
SeaFed got his Yahoo! account jacked by Russians in June of last year. So, let us bear in mind that that happened nineish months ago.
When TV was over and things were winding down, I could tell Frannie wanted to talk.
“My dad said something weird this weekend,” she said.
“Yeah. He was really surprised when you texted him that I was coming on Thursday night.”
“But it was a three-day weekend. When it’s his weekend he gets that extra holiday. You mean he didn’t know you were coming?”
“He said he had to scramble to get into the car and pick me up. He also told me that if you would have told him that I had Friday off, he could have taken me on a trip with his family that he came back from on Thursday.” This man who cannot afford to pay for the new GAL is taking midweek vacations now.
“But, BUT,” I sputtered.
“I KNOW,” she said. “He said that he has not given his new email to the school yet.”
“Well, not to mention the fact that the school calendar is publicly available on the website. Maybe I should suggest that he locate the calendar.”
“You can do what you want. But if you contact him about this, he will say I’m making it up. And then he’ll talk to me about it when I see him again.” The word “talk” had a thick undertone of “OH PLEASE GOD NO.” Her shoulders slumped.
“Hmm, ok.” I was quiet then. “Let me get this straight. He did not know you were coming on Thursday. He does not know what the school calendar says. The school does not have his email address. And somehow this is all my fault?”
She rolled her eyes and nodded. “He blames you every time he does something like this, Mom.”
We talked for quite a while longer. She is deeply sad about her relationship with him, and I think he has no concept of that. In keeping with my Star Trek theme above, it’s quite a paradox that such an epic bullshit peddler had a child who is basically Deanna Troi.
The real sucks part is that much like when I was younger and with him, she is trying to blame herself for the lack of intimacy and substance of their relationship. I think she thinks if they could only bridge the gap somehow she could break in to some inner sanctum, that, believe me, is not there. There are no depths to plumb. I see her shouting into the void to no avail. I spent about an hour telling her that she is an awesome person to know. She thinks his concept of her is “here is my daughter who likes art.”
“Do you think I’m a cool person?” I asked her, gesturing at myself like I was some Bob Barker showcase shit. “Not a cool mom, but a decent person? Look at all the things I have going on. I write, I cook, I’m smart, I have a sense of humor, I can hold down a job, I can take care of you and your sister.” She nodded. “Your dad found me TOTALLY UNINTERESTING. ME. You’re his kid, and you have both of our best parts. You’re probably going to grow up to be a cooler person than me. IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT.”
She took this in. “My dad has cool parts?”
“Yes, look. Imagine a gloppy lake. That is your dad.” She laughed. “There are some like, carrots and Legos and a unicorn horn floating around it. When you happened, that lake got dredged and the cool parts got pulled out. Really. Your dad had potential, which he was not able to achieve. Just because he does not use his cool parts does not mean they are not there. And they were available for you. And I am glad. I’m sorry you cannot connect with your dad. I couldn’t either.”
“Yeah. I try, I just can’t. It makes me feel like I don’t care anymore. It’s always the same and I get depressed.”
“Let me tell you a story,” I said. “When I first went to live with my mom, we got kittens. We thought they were boys, but it turns out they were brother and sister. She didn’t have them fixed…”
“I know! So they started spraying all over the house and humping each other.”
“This is what unfixed cats do,” I said. “So she got rid of them. Then she got three more cats, and got pregnant with Auntie Morgan, and got rid of them also with the pregnancy as an excuse. And I got my own cat after that. She was very sweet. Her name was Jade…she was a tuxedo cat with green eyes. She left my stepdad for the second or third time or whatever and we had to get rid of her before we ran away. Then one time we were living in an apartment by ourselves and the girl in the downstairs apartment had to give up her cat, and my mother took the cat.”
“That’s something I really don’t like about Grandma…nothing is permanent for her,” Franny said.
“Well, nothing is permanent in life. But some people are better at stability than others. I hear you. So, this cat, let me tell you. I did not touch it, I did not look at it. I was very sad. I loved all those cats. And sure enough, that cat went away. I don’t think it was really less painful to ignore the cat than it was to love it and experience the loss of it. It was just different. And I learned something about myself.”
“I didn’t want to be the kind of person who shut myself off. I wanted to feel things. What I didn’t know then was that I needed to get to a safe environment to do that. The way I grew up was not so good for it being safe to attach to things or people. But YOU. You have me. You have us. I have you. I am not going anywhere. Nothing in this house is. Don’t cut yourself off from feeling, no matter how much it sounds like relief. If you are being blocked from the light, find a different direction to grow in.”
She nodded. She is so sad. I hid my sadness as best I could at her age because I knew no one really cared. I’m glad that recently she’s become open to the idea of therapy. I am hoping that speaking to a professional will help her find ways to cope with her pain and tease a manageable relationship out of the situation with her dad. I decided not to raise my children in the environment I was raised in, and hooray, I am not mentally ill like some people I was exposed to, but I feel like I’ve handed her a new plate of crap. I would let her lay eggs in my corpse if I could get her out of one second of feeling a lack of connection with her father. Until I can find that devil’s bargain to sign off on, BABY STEPS.
P.S. Heading down to the courthouse this morning to file a small claim. WOW I love the courthouse NOT AT ALL. I’ll let you know how that shakes out.