I reckon I'm fairly liberal and open minded in general, but also in terms of parenting. I'm unsure which way round it is but I think, in order to parent A and K, one has to be, the alternative is just not worth thinking about.
Things can be a test at the best of times. That boy Z still sticks to K like some sort of extra strong glue and I have to to try to draw a line between allowing, disallowing and not being in a position to stamp my authority down anyhow. A has now started college and is busy trying out tobacco and God knows what else and I'm lucky to get more than "fine" as an answer to any question these days.
Their time with me consists of me providing food, money, shelter and of course power; power to juice up their laptops so they can be online and talking to their friends, the ones they've spent all day with.
There are the occasional moments when we come together in a meeting of interests but, truth be told, they're few and far between. The last one was going to see Muse about a month ago, when we all got into the moment and had a blast. The next? Who knows.
But, these are mostly the things that all parents have to deal with at some point. I do feel a little bit sorry for myself when I dwell on my theory that it's not only different for Dad of girls, but that's it's even more different for Dads who don't live with their daughters.
Everyone I talk to says that I shouldn't worry, that all daughters have a special bond with their father. Well yes, I know that and I've seen it, it's just that it takes a while, usually once they grow up and hit adulthood. Teenage girls and their mothers are as close as a President and his war winning army commander, that's just the way things are. Even when I was living with them I often felt like I was a male teacher in a girls' school who'd accidentally found some of the pupils having a slumber party.
These are just things I figure I have to deal with and get on with.
But yesterday my tolerance was pushed and tested to the very outer edge of of its limit. It was a casual phone conversation with K and went along the lines of:
"Hello Miss K, what are you up to?" said I.
"Well, I've got a whole list of jobs to do before Mum gets back from Sainsburys" she replied.
"Oh okay, that sounds nice, where's A then?"
"She's at work" she said.
"Oh yes, I'd forgotten about that." said I. A has started her first job, at a local garden centre on Sundays you see.
We had some more chat, about her new contact lenses and how she's getting on with them, detail that I'm sure won't interest you, and then she hit me with the bombshell.
It's hard to prepare a chap for a bombshell, particularly a surprising one like this. I thought I'd brought up A and K as well as I could, to be respectful and "normal", to operate within the parameters of decency and be content.
"And in a minute" she continued.
"In a minute I'm going to walk down to the shop"
All well and good, you're thinking. You'd be right, so far.
"And buy myself a.......
"Buy yourself a what?" I asked incredulously.
She repeated the P word, one I'm reluctant even to type here.
"What? What's wrong with Coke?" I pleaded.
"Well it's just that Pepsi's got, kind of, well, a bit more bite to it" said K sheepishly, as sheepishly as she ever gets, which is not much.
I could tell that she was aware of my disappointment, though I did my best to disguise it. I've tried to teach them that life is about perspectives, opinions, more about different realities that right and wrong.
But I must admit I'm struggling to come to terms with this. A daughter of mine thinking that Pepsi is better tasting than Coke?
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