“OUCH! Stop hitting me Tara!”
“I didn’t!,” Tara replied peeking up at me in the rearview mirror.
Brief Interlude: OK. I get it. I promise I do. I have a sister slightly older than me, and I don’t know why, but at times we were total asses to each other. However…
“Taralynn,” is all I have to say before she looks away and gazes out her window. I had just picked them up from school, and we had been in the car for all of oh, let’s say three minutes. That sounds reasonable.
I take a deep breath and exhale very slowly as I merge onto the highway. I haven’t seen or talked to the girls in a few days. I usually try pretty hard to not go more than two days without at least emailing them, but this week I slacked (as did they), and I hadn’t talked to them since Thursday. It is now Monday. I have the girls an extra day this week while their mother does some extra training for her job.
I’m always pretty excited to pick them up from school. I miss them every day that passes that they are not with me. I really do look forward to our time together, and today was no different…
“I need Gatorade before we go home” Ashleigh states.
“What do you need Gatorade for?” I ask.
“We have a field trip tomorrow at the high school. We are having a track and field day, and I’m running in a couple of track events. So I have to bring Gatorade with me.”
“I thought you were in fourth grade still” I wonder aloud.
“Well, I am still in fourth grade, but that’s our field trip tomorrow” she continues.
“I’m already on the highway Ash. I’ll get it before tomorrow morning, OK?”
“Can’t we just stop at the gas station before we get home?”
“Ash…you’re doing it again.”
“Doing what?” she mused.
“Asking me for something I’ve already given you an answer for. I told you I would get it for you before you go to school tomorrow. Correct?” I say impatiently. I hate when they do that. They know it’s a pretty big pet peeve of mine. Just like…
“OUCH!!! I told you to stop hitting me Taralynn!!” Ash yelled out.
“Taralynn Olivia…Do not make me pull this car over” I gently say to her.
“I DIDN’T! She’s making stuff up daddy!”
I try to watch the road while keenly keeping an eye on the rearview mirror. Wow. That didn’t take long…
“Taralynn—I…” start in to the loud reply of “BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, I already know what you’re going to say…So Blah, blah, blah…” her voice trailed off.
That’s it. I take an extremely long breath, almost forget to exhale, and slowly guide the car over to the shoulder. As I peer back into the third row (where Taralynn was probably glad she was sitting at the time), I notice Ashleigh bury her face in her hands. She hates to see me yell, and she knew what was about to go down.
“BLAH, BLAH, BLAH???!!!” I ask incredulously? “Really? That’s how you speak to your dad?! Or did you forget that I was your dad for a minute? Do you honestly think that is the right thing to say to me? I am your DAD. Your MOM’S EQUAL. I am NOT your friend. I am NOT your sisters. I am your DAD. I do expect you to respect that fact and if you cannot learn to do that, than I will have a very hard time respecting you.”
I cannot believe that this little girl just made me pull a “parent move” like pull over my damn car!
“Taralynn, stop laughing!” Ashleigh instructs her younger sister. “You are just making him more upset.”
Taralynn put her face towards the floorboards as she continued to chuckle. I couldn’t even look Ash in the eye, because I knew she was crying. I hate raising my voice to them, because I know it really isn’t doing me any good. At the same time, I am trying my hardest to not spank my children. I can’t necessarily put Tara in a “time-out” while she sits in the car. So, for that five minutes as we sat on the shoulder of the highway, I yelled. I didn’t pull any punches, and I damn sure didn’t make any friends. As I finished my talk, I started to ease the car back onto the highway (BTW, no one stopped to see if we needed any help. Thanks random motorists, for that).
“Do you understand?” was the last thing I asked before pulling onto our exit ramp.
“No,” Taralynn giggled.
I couldn’t even start to speak the rest of the drive home as my eyes swelled up with tears. I keep asking myself, “What the hell am I doing wrong? What am I doing right? AM I doing anything right? I keep looking on the bookshelf for my manual that came with these kids when they were born, but I must have misplaced it.
I haven’t written a blog for a couple of months now, because I am going through some very personal issues that are way too complicated for me to share with a bunch of strangers. I am glad a lot of you that read my blog ARE strangers, because any feedback I get that I don’t necessarily agree with I can discount. However, for my true friends, I do enjoy constructive criticism, and I may or may not agree with it. Either way, I know deep down you care for me, and for my family.
I have very well-behaved children seventy-five percent of the time. Would I like it to be more? Of course. Who wouldn’t want their kids to do everything like YOU wanted them to? Sometimes, kids have to be kids. Sometimes, kids have to make mistakes. Sometimes kids need to be taught right from wrong. Sometimes we have to look at it from their point of view. Sometimes we expect too little of them, and sometimes we expect too much.
Parenting is a hard job. It’s the hardest one I’ll ever have, that’s for damn sure. If you ever sit down and talk with my mom and dad, I’m sure they’ll tell you that the whole parenting job never ends. I’m pretty sure I’ve been that little kid in the back seat snickering at my parents as the cars whizzed past, and blood vessels popped out on my dad’s forehead. I wish I knew then how that made him feel. He never kept a blog though, and he never showed his frustration on his face. He showed his frustration with some terrible pain laid to my backside. Hmmmmmm…..
Anyways, after dinner I decided to take all the girls on a walk. We actually didn’t talk much except about making sure Ella stayed out of the street. I think we all felt a little better afterwards. A little bit of fresh air is all I needed to calm down and realize that it doesn’t always have to be that serious. Either way I look at it, I’m going to be a dad to four little girls who are going to grow up into teenagers, and young ladies, and grown women. By then, they’ll probably be telling me about their “pulling the car over” story.
Besides, it’s not like I don’t have another little girl I should be worrying about right now…