As my three daughters grow there are stages you adjust to, but the one that you never quite get over is when you don’t become the most important person in their lives. It started a few months ago,I ignored it at first, then sulked privately, before finally going the stages of grief, my middle daughter, age 11, an official pre-teen, has stopped calling me daddy, now, I’m just dad.
I have a blended family. My oldest daughter is 18, a college freshman at a local university in downtown Atlanta. I met her when she was twelve. We were buddies at first, she sold me to her mom one night while on the way home from my house when she scooted up in her seat and asked, “so, mom, when are y’all getting married?” The day after I made her mother an honest woman and we became a family, everything changed. I went from that funny guy her mom was dating to dad. I was never daddy with her.
My youngest daughter is 10. She’s the most different personality of the three. She was 3 1/2 when I met her and the most guarded of everyone when her mother and I got married. Now, she calls and treats me as a father, even calling me “daddy” in the sweetest, not ready to grow up yet, tinny voice you can imagine.
My middle daughter, I don’t know, I guess I just thought our run was going to be something else. I changed her first diaper, did her first bath, performed 2am feedings while ESPN Sportscenter played, and was a single father with her in between marriages. She was “little” with me. I can quote her first 100 or so words. Yet, there she was, walking off her afterschool program bus, not returning my smile or wave and giving me the “whatever” treatment as I checked her out to go home. One of her school friends said, “Hey, look, it’s your d….” before the little girl could finish my pre-teen shot back, “yeah, I know, okay, it’s my dad, big deal, I can see him.”
Attitude and that word, just dad.
It used to me daddy. ” Daddy, can you put me on your shoulders?”, “Daddy, show me how to draw a dog”, “Daddy, why did you call that person in that other car a dummy?”
I’ve researched articles on pre-teens, begged my oldest daughter for answers as to why her sister doesn’t love me like she used to, and broken down all of my parenting interactions to see where I went wrong. The answers are all the same.
She’s growing up and I’m not her whole world anymore. In fact, I’m Pluto, not even a planet in her solar system.
My wife tells me I should focus on our youngest since she drops daddy like I like it, and still lays with me on the couch. To say my heart isn’t a little broken would be a lie. According to a deal my daughter and I made when she was a baby, she’s supposed to love me forever the way I want her too. I should consult an attorney, I’ve been wronged.
I’m not ready for two girls in my house to have me in the dad zone. Watching them grow up is a honor, but watching it happen so quickly is a horror. Maybe one day both of those daughtersthat now call me dad will throw me a daddy just one more time. Until then, they’re getting more love than they think they want and need.
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I wrote two books. They got good reviews. The third one, a sequel to the first, Woman Of Troy, is on the way, very soon.
The Ballad of Helene Troy, an underdog story about a female musician in New York City, and Soul To Body, about an ex-1990s guitar player trying to raise his teenage daughter after the death of his wife, her mother, are available, digitally, on Amazon.com for your kindles, and in paperback from Lulu.com