Pat and Emma have a very interesting relationship. They are cut from the same cloth. Not even kidding a little. We call her the apple to his tree and honest to God, she did not fall far! Their biggest-head butting instances stem from them both having the pathological need to have the last word. As in the very last word. All.The.Time. Throw in the fact that she inherited my wit and sarcasm and some days it’s a real treat to be around them. Just ask her brother.
But like all fathers and daughters there is that unwavering bond: Dad as the fierce protector and daughter as his pure and lovely princess. It’s a pretty good story until the princess hits her teens. It’s been tough watching Pat watch Emma grow up. He’s trying to be gracious and understanding but he’s only fooling himself – no one else is buying the act. It’s not that he wants her to stay a child forever, he doesn’t. He remembers what it was like to be a teenage boy and he understands how they view teenage girls and that right there is what is starting to cause him sleepless nights.
I bring this up because Emma is no longer a little girl; she is now a young woman. She just started high school in a new city where she doesn’t know a soul. She’s following her dream and she’s having the time of her life. She is making friends (something that hasn’t always come very easily to her) and she’s caught the attention of some of the boys in her class. Two have already asked her to their Senior Prom in four years and a third wanted her phone number. (She declined all requests.) Of course she was flattered and swore me to secrecy. I was not allowed to tell her father since she was afraid he would over react.
Well, I kept her secret for several days but during a conversation in the car between the three of us, I let it slip. I got the “MOM” from Emma but Pat handled himself with grace and humor and just enough outrage to satisfy his princess. The things Dads do!
Watching your kids grow up is not for the faint of heart. Usually it’s filled with happy times and stunning achievements (oh, wait, that’s only at Lake Wobegon). Here in the real world, or maybe only at my house, it’s messy and chaotic with some mild cussing and various decibel levels of yelling. Letting your kids grow up is the hardest part of being a parent but it is the most necessary.
You want so much to be able to shield them from life’s cruel blows. I can’t imagine the heartache I’ll feel when I have to help her through her first broken heart. Really, though my biggest worry is about how I’m going to help Pat through it.
Her I can handle; Pat I’m not so sure about.
Barbara Mulvey-Welsh is a mother, writer and blogger raising kids and a husband in Plymouth. Check out her blog at "Did I Say That Out Loud?" Use caution when reading around the family, there is some strong language.