kicking maple leaves around
walking it off,
walking it all off.
It's the night that will envelop me;
blinded by the wet black dark
for what you've done this time.
On these long nights i start thinking
There is so much he doesn't see, this father of this child of mine.
He doesn't see a little girl on a purple bike, splashing through a puddle and slamming on the brakes. She's wobbled a little and is clearly frustrated, though normally this puddle would not be such a big deal. But this time, i call out "are you ok?" and she answers with less than the usual rebelangel pluck.
"I don't have a dad anymore," she sniffs, kicking at the wet pavement.
This is not true, per se. She's been catching snippets of my conversations with friends, which were supposed to be hushed, and behind my bedroom door. But she always knows the score, more or less.
She knows i've resolved not to let her be at her father's house for a while, on account of the string of sketchy people with missing teeth, the girlfriend with the stripper vibe, the phone that's cut off again, the reports of unreliable parenting, and a feeling i get in the pit of my stomach when i think about his spiraling life of late. I don't even want to invite the rage that would come should i ponder what danger he's possibly put her in, while she's been in his care.
Still, i am feeling the usual pangs of sorrow for my daughter's self-esteem, for the statistics about daughters and absent fathers, and for her feeling that my decision means she 'doesn't have a dad anymore.'
I tell her that she will always have a dad who loves her, no matter what. I shore up some kind of reassurance for her, because that is the only thing i can do -- reassure, and pray that it comes true. But i hate that i have to be the one to tell her that her father loves her.
Truth be told, sometimes i wish he weren't around at all. He brings so much sorrow to the people who love him -- his mother whom he ignores until he needs something, his two daughters with whom he oversleeps and overyells, their respective mothers who he's emotionally manipulated one by one, and even at the same time. He continually makes promises and breaks them, yet here i am reassuring her that he loves my daughter, because anything else would be an even bigger blow to her psyche.
At what point is it all right to give it to a kid straight that their parent is fucked up?
Is this just a bitter realization that they must come to on their own, since all other meddling will be seen as such? And does this non-meddling mean we as the other parent are supposed to defend the fucked-up parent's love for their child, when the conversation comes up?