Three hundred and seventy-four words

Lily texts me, something like Dad, where’s the money you gave me for dinner?, which pisses me off and I write back right away, the immediacy of it, YOU TELL ME where the money is (I gave it to you, I watched you put it in your pocket, check the right one). Write back and tell me you haven’t lost it. Thirty dollars! No one needs $30 for dinner. I gave her the money so she could pay back the church because she said she would go to the water park but then changed her mind since there weren’t any kids her age going, just teenagers, and the park is like an hour away, and our minds flashed to Lily (11) in her swimsuit, unattended, her first month or so with a flip phone, the myriad threats we know exist but can’t entertain they’re so horrible, and agree it would be better if she just came home after her shift (youth volunteer counselor assistant, Vacation Bible School): and that would be easier, the four of us just going to the lake or doing something as a family…but instead, when I go to pick her up she says actually, there ARE kids her age going and can she please go, and her eyes make a cartoon, exaggerated shape when she asks, she bounces, claps her hands like a seal barking for a fish, and I act like an ass, like I’m pissed off and drag my butt back up the parking lot to the teenager who’s in charge, don’t even know her name, unsure of the details but they’re leaving in 20 minutes, Lily needs me to run back home and get her a suit, a packed lunch, which I do (I say keep the money I gave you earlier and use it for dinner, knowing it’s too much but more’s probably better): and when I return with her backpack and a note with our numbers in case her phone dies she says thanks, I ask her to text me later to tell me how it’s going, which she does, and I walk back to the car and it’s very quiet getting inside, driving home, and this is right when it all starts, I think.


December ’10

Categories: parenting

Tags: , , , ,

22 replies

  1. A day in the life…
    “But how… why? But you…” There’s no answer to these things.


  2. The frugal Dad in me just wants to know, did she find the thirty bucks?


    • She did, that tripped me out though. Just learned the boy she was with at the park asked for her number too, and now she has one. There.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh shoot. I think about that sometimes, what it will be like when my lil ones get big enough to break away, start writing their own stories. Always thought it was interesting how we start under parent’s wings, then finally get a little freedom with adulthood, but often dive back into the family context giving it right back, and then it seems you get the freedom again when they get grown, but in that time you’ve realized you never even wanted to be separate, alone, free. You start realizing why those adults were acting so weird, the real fear they carried in their heart.

        I’ve been having these weird compulsions/panic attacks. Wake up in the middle of the night, or in the middle of a chaotic moment, lose eyes on the kid. Get that deathlike dread that you somehow have lost one of them. Feel the world invert into this strange hell of despair. Ugh. Parenting is tough! And the kicker is they’re just in that closet you didn’t check, or behind that monstrous hosta. To keep it on the road, you got to mentally let go, see beyond. You are them and they are you. There is no way to separate, from anything really. Good day friend!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, you can think about it and then there’s that day it just happens, like I knew it would: like that Subaru commercial I think I saw during the DNC where the hip-looking dad with the beard has this montage of memories, and they’re selling the fact the car is safe. Because you know, that’s on our minds.

        Good day, indeed. Hot here, but dry, not like yours. Going out for hammock time now, with Ernest.


  3. love this….did you do it after you got up or before you went to bed? and yes, it has begun…8-)



    gregg s johnson cell: 206.399.3066 email:



    • It has SO begun. Funny how things seem to happen gradually as they say, and then all it once: I think I documented a pivotal moment yesterday. She gave some boy her number. I wrote this in the afternoon after some hammock/Hemingway time, then edited it during the DNC, and set it to post in the AM in hopes to grab some east coast readers getting up about that time. I wanted to see how long I could sustain attention without a paragraph break, and with an arguably bad headline…fun to try stuff and play around, glad you enjoyed it Gregg. Bill


  4. Why do tales like this make me think I’d be a crappy dad?!


  5. A little like a planet being pulled from orbit, at least, that’s how it feels for me. I’m looking forward to having an empty nest next year but now that it is getting closer there is anxiety that comes with feeling like my kids aren’t ready. I guess time will tell.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well we’re never ready are we? If we are, we probably waited too long. Time will tell, I hope it’s good for you two and think it will be. Bill


  6. ah, the merry go round of teens – i survived it 3 times. barely. )


  7. Lily’s a similar age to my son Joe (12) and they’re this disorientating mix of proto teen and grown up baby, wanting to be independant and be home alone (or my son does anyway!) and be out with friends one second, then want a blanket and a cuddle and turn the big eyes on you so remember the toddler they were but which has long since vanished.
    I read a short story recently that described how a mum felt about her stroppy teen, how she mourned the three year old the daughter had been, almost as painfully as if that little child had died.
    We love them to bits but they give us a tough ride, don’t they.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. And just like that you captured the messiness of being a parent. Heart raging, pissed off and exasperated, we couldn’t live without them, and will do anything for them.

    Liked by 1 person

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