Friday, May 31, 2013

Priorities and tone

I took Patrick and Lilly out for ice cream last night, and before we left, we watered the flowers in the front yard. They each have a little watering can, plus there's a big one that I can use to follow behind them and, you know, actually make sure each plant gets water. Their dad was finishing up mowing the lawn and putting things back in order while we did this, and their mom was inside packing for their impending beach vacation.

As Lilly walked onto the mulch to get at flowers close to the tree planted there, her dad exploded. He frequently berates the kids, and now that I'm not around it as much, I forget how much it pierces my heart.

"Lilly! Get out of the mulch! Look, you're stepping on all the flowers. See, there used to be a flower there, but you killed it, because you're tromping around in there."

I wish I was kidding.
She tried to explain that she was watering the plants. That didn't matter. No, he wasn't furious; he didn't hit her or scream. But I saw her face.

She's four and a half. I saw the crushed disappointment of a little girl who is being berated by her daddy. And then I saw what I know will come back to bite her parents - I saw the set jaw, the hard eyes, the stiff posture of a girl who's trying not to care. Who's closing off. Who's retreating inside herself.

I wanted to slap some sense into her father. He was too wrapped up in his flowers (in the appearance of his house, and life, truth be told) to notice what he did to his daughter.

But I saw it. And I can't quell the ache I've had since.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A good match

My dad stopped by the other day, as he was passing through on a longer trip. We had a thoroughly enjoyable evening, shopping for a graduation present for V, eating delicious barbecue, and having daddy-daughter time that I've missed.

He mentioned something about my brother and his wife thinking that they're ready to start trying for kids, and my response was that I always thought he, my brother, wanted to be the cool uncle rather than the dad. (Well, that was my audible response. My internal one had more to do with the fact that my sister-in-law annoys me, and they're both hyper-religious.)

After I said that, my dad commented that my brother has changed a lot since getting married (almost 3 years ago), and his wife was a really good match for him. I'd agree that my brother has changed, but I think most of the changes have been negative (see: hyper-religious).

That aside, it occurred to me that never, absolutely never, will my father tell me I made a good match, or that V is the perfect complement to me. Sure, he's not around us much, whereas he lives half an hour from my brother and sister-in-law, but still: anyone can see we are a good match, and he's known her for upwards of 5 years, technically.

But to admit that she's good for me is to admit that the fact that she's a girl doesn't matter. It's to admit he was wrong that girls are never good matches for girls. And if there's one thing my father never does, it's admit he was wrong.

Honestly, this doesn't even hurt all that much, and in many ways, that's the worst part. I've cried over my father plenty in the past few years; don't get me wrong, I'm glad to not be crying any more. But the feeling of resignation that I have now is almost worse. It's just a subtle reminder that I'll never be equal, even though I'll always be his princess.

He didn't even say anything about V and me. But that's just it. He never will.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Future hope

We're moving in 3 1/2 weeks. V's family was here for graduation last weekend, and it went alright, though we're very glad to have the house back to ourselves.

I've seen Kali twice this week, yesterday and today, and both days I've struggled to not be emotional. I texted V, "Can we have one that I won't have to give up?" I don't know what it is about her in particular, other than the fact that I've been fairly involved with her since she was a few weeks old, but she's definitely going to keep part of my heart here.

In general, though, I'm looking forward to moving. A new start, a new place, a new source of income. No new cats!

And it will be the end of this dreadful school-ness. Right now, V is in the home stretch of a 2 week intensive science course, plus another 5-week Montessori course, plus she has to write her master's thesis. At the end of that, it's over. All over.

We realized that she's been in school since two months after we got married. No wonder I don't feel like I have a wife, sometimes. I'm ready to have one. And a life, again. It's been rough. Here's to improvement, in a few more weeks.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Double duty

Last week, V needed something to take to class for their end-of-semester potluck; unfortunately, we've both been insanely busy, with graduation this weekend, summer classes starting yesterday, and the imminent move. The day of class, I had to watch Kali, Laura, and Danielle for most of the day, greatly limiting my chances to get anything else done.

Until I hit upon the solution. Cooking with kids, always great, right? It's honestly not one of my favorite activities; it tends to fall in my too-large category of "I can do this better by myself, so just let me, please." But, I thought, something simple could actually be a great idea. No-bakes (called preacher cookies if you're V's family) require stirring, melting, stirring, plopping, and freezing. Two five year olds and a very opinionated two year old should be able to handle that--or rather, I should be able to handle them.

Then V reminded me that Danielle is highly allergic to nuts. Right. Off I went in search of a peanut-butter-free no-bake recipe. I ended up finding this one, and we went with it. I upped the recipe by half, so there would be enough for V to take and to leave with Kali & Co, and it definitely made plenty of cookies. I also put an entire bag of chocolate chips in, which probably wasn't necessary, and made it very chocolatey, but...yum!

What was fun was that making 1.5 recipes meant most measurements divided by 3, so each girl could get a scoop of whatever ingredient it was (or I'd hand Kali a full scoop and let her dump) to put in. We had a blast. Remarkably, the two big girls spooned out the entire batch of goodness onto wax paper. I gave them each a bowl and a spoon, set them on stools in front of the counter, and replenished their bowls as necessary. They did all the hard work, and loved it! It didn't matter at all that the cookies weren't exactly shaped like circles or even similarly-sized chunks; I was just grateful they were enjoying themselves. I'll eat no-bakes no matter what shape...

Kali mixing cocoa into butter, sugar, and milk

I texted their mom that this was better than the OT they'd gone to earlier