One of the most difficult things of trying to be both parents is pushing and fighting against the nature of being a guy and a Dad. That means when things go wrong, my natural instinct is to try and fix what’s wrong.
But that doesn’t work when it’s a teenage girl who has the problem.
I’m not belittling her problems, I’m saying, frankly, that I have to put on a totally different hat and change my mindset. Completely. Even then I don’t really get it right.
Abbi, you see, has taken on the job of assistant director for the school’s spring play. Not a musical, but a play. This would normally be plenty of stress, but add to that the fact they did auditions and every kid under the sun wanted Abbi to tell them what their chances were and she’s like Atlas carrying the earth on her shoulders. Add to this the fact that they wouldn’t leave her alone even when she was at her Grandfather’s funeral . . . and she was a bit of a mess.
Add to this the fact that she was studying grief and death in her psychology class today and she’s even worse off. She needed to talk to somebody . . . somebody her own age, not her Dad. But those somebodys were wrapped up in their own world and anger and God knows what else. It’s times like this I’m glad to be a guy. Something goes wrong? You hit them. Maybe it’s a harder tackle during a pickup football game. Maybe you just walk up and shove them against a locker. Regardless, it’s there . . . and then it’s done.
Girls don’t do that. Girls work emotions and turn their backs and . . . let’s face it, where guys are told they’re “emotionally unavailable” and “hold it in” they don’t use emotions to get back at others.
This is the world my oldest, who has more of my and my father’s mindset then the mindset of others, has entered. Sure, her skin needs to thicken up, but then . . . so does everyone’s.
But the hardest thing for me to contend with is hearing “Mom would know what to do.” This is hard not because it’s true – and it is. But because it’s also not true. How do you tell your daughter, or son, or whomever, that their mother, who very well would have had all the answers for this situation, may not have had it either? I know Andrea would have had advice for Abbi . . . but I also know that more than a few times Andrea made situations far worse than better. Situations that called for more tact and less attack would get the complete opposite reaction from her. Where I loved her being forward and up front, others . . . well they didn’t love it.
All I can do is say what I think . . . and not say other things I think. Sometimes time is all there is to heal the wounds, one at a time. They all heal at a different pace. Some are deeper and have a visible scar that may fade, but never disappear. Others are there and gone in a day or two. That’s what she’s dealing with. She’s been pummeled over the last couple weeks, by illness, cancer of her grandfather, illness of her grandmother, and seeing the loss of her mother all over again. Add eighteen-year-old girls in the drama club adding, well, drama to the grief and she just couldn’t take any more of the beating. Rather than the sympathy of her peers she got “rule one is don’t talk about fight club!”
I never said it would be easy. Hell, it hasn’t been easy. But it was supposed to be a little easier on them . . . and that’s what makes it hardest on me. So you’ll excuse me if I go beat a few chords out of my guitar for awhile to lessen the blows on myself.