Rob Azevedo says those other parents are wrong: His sweet, precious daughter will never shut him down. Or out.
My daughter is thirteen now — nearly a woman – and I know, I know, no need to tell me again: “I better get ready. I have no idea what’s coming down the pike. She’s not going to have time for you anymore.”
This is what I hear, what I’ve been hearing for a couple years now through the shattered whine of some chardonnay heads. They tell me that my baby, my precious, sweet faced, baby girl baby, will soon be shutting me down. Or out rather.
Hand to face, lifeless hugs, no more calls, expect it all.
I can’t picture it. Yet these people, they insist our time has come.
The Great Divide.
They proclaim that she’s heading off into the Hinterlands, home of the great awakening, where the world is exposed, zits and all.
True, I admit, those were heinous times being introduced to the real world. This I remember from my own “coming of age” days. I didn’t know who to trust in my own home, let alone a region of strangers offering new beginnings.
Then someone starts railing on about how the many lies she will endure and tragedies she will witness will either inspire her or break her spirit. Or worse yet, numb her out. Along with a bevy of murderous pacifists, rampant disease, soul killing technology and dead end career paths…
“End it!” I cried out at the merry marauders killing my kitchen supply of hard beverages. “You’ve sucked my spine dry! Now leave my home!”
They just continued to spit wine onto my nose.
As if I don’t feel underutilized enough these days. It used to be I could least walk the floors at night worrying yet knowing my kids were sleeping upstairs under a hundred blankets, soggy lips and all.
Still, I worried. Worried about what? Everything. And anything, right?
And then more of everything. A maddening cycle overflowing with stagnant traditions and duplication.
I roared out to the masses. “I worried because she needed me!” Finger to chest, my tongue burning with vermouth. “And she’ll always need me!”
Then some lout is heard saying under his breath as he slugs down another mouthful of cold beer, “‘Needed’ being the key word in that statement.”
“Fuck that!!” I screamed, fists pounding down on the porcelain countertop.
Curse all you want, they say, but as your transparency deepens and your need to be needed becomes more fragmented, well, that will penetrate you in ways unknown. You’ll find yourself reaching back to your own worst days as you stare lonely into a bathroom mirror, scrambling for your own innocence.
I hung my head. The cranked up crowd of white cut winos became a blur. I focused instead on a sneaker mark left on the kitchen floor, the heavy in my hand long gone empty. Damn kids. Love them.
Most of these people speak from experience. I understand. That matters. Half-truth, half lies, the other half just a good gin buzz. I get it. And although their reasons sound a bit seasoned, as if they’ve been stewing up for a good while now — maybe for generations — their predictions are legitimate.
And that’s what frightens me. Thirteen years ago I was a rank mess of selfishness. But my baby girl’s birth vaporized that guy, for the most part. I finally had a reason to care, to focus on someone besides myself, for once.
I can’t lose that.
I won’t lose that.
He mustn’t return.
I tapped out for five minutes, letting the soul crushing crowd simmer as I made my way to the bathroom. I would not allow this negative speak to ruin my night. Nor dictate my relationship with my daughter. What we have developed over the past thirteen years isn’t just the common bond. And it’s not built off lore and tradition. It’s the bond of all bonds. Fortified in unconditional love and openness. From jump street.
So why now, at this middle hour, just as her horizon begins to crown in the distance, would she abandon me? Abandon us? Rubbish. Need me all you want. I have very little else to do.
But then, as the people predicted, I was talking to myself in the bathroom mirror, conducting an interrogation that Mike Wallace would be proud of.
And why do you think that her teenage years will be just like yours?
Doesn’t it work like that?
No, it’s her life. Not yours.
Will she deny me?
No, you can be there for her whether she likes it or not.
Ah, with space agreed upon, of course.
It’s not all about cell phones is it?
No, she’s a little woman now with little woman thoughts and little woman distractions and little woman instincts.
Ah, I will share my own experiences as a teen with her. Sharing is good.
No! Don’t do that! Burn your past! It’s diseased!
I hear what you’re saying now. Do the Costanza and go opposite.
Something like that.
Walking out of the bathroom, I was steady once again; readying to take on all the chardonnay heads and their dismal shots of love and fate. But the kitchen was now empty. All the pessimistic prowlers had gone home.
All except my rock, my wife, who was washing out wine glasses at the kitchen sink.
Where’d everyone go? I asked her.
Oh, Peg and Fred had to go home. Their daughter Jenny got in a fight with her boyfriend and was all upset. She has a biology test in the morning, too. I feel bad for that poor frog.
Oh, and Paul and Amy promised to have a Food TV marathon night with their daughter who’s home on vacation from UNH. She’s a junior now. Can you believe it?
Anyways, Barb and Herb are going to swing by in the morning to take that nasty couch out of the basement and give it to their daughter Erica because she just got a new apartment in the city. Guess Herb got her a job with the state and she’s getting back on her feet. Good for her.
No, good for them. Good for all of us. Good to be needed.
Photo: Doug Ford/Flickr