In a couple of short months, my eldest daughter turns 12. I’ve always dreaded the notorious teenage years coming on, and even at her current age, my
daughter is very much like her mother. Very boisterous, very confident as to whom she is, and not afraid to tell it like it is. In truth, as the
dating years come on and I polish my firearms collections and hone my aim to include young men’s rear ends, I do actually pity the foolish boy who
will take my daughter on. I suspect her sharp wit and devilish intelligence will be the bane of many young men, and be most likely more painful than
any buckshot ever could.
As she has grown up, and gone from a toddler to a little girl and is now on the precipice of becoming a young woman, I recently faced a challenge
outside the normal realm of being a father.
You see, my eldest daughter is not biologically my own. I took her on at three years of age, after her mother died of cancer at age 25. It was her
dying wish that her daughter ‘not slip through the cracks,’ and it was a promise I have managed to keep, even though it cost me another marriage
and almost emotionally destroyed me in the process. I eventually gained the opportunity to adopt her, and she now shares my surname, and calls me dad.
This path, however difficult as it has been, has been worth it, bumps and all, and although I lost a part of my sanity I’ll never recover, I don’t
regret a single day of it.
Despite this, she does know the truth. I’ve never kept from her the fact about her mother, and have always tried to be as honest as I could,
regarding her heritage and what had happened to her biological mother. She knows she has passed on, although it was difficult to broach the subject
when she was age seven. She never really asks too many questions about the whole saga, and up until recently she only knew her mother had died, not
the how and the why of it all.
With the advent of someone new coming into my life, it looks as though the Templar family may again be expanding though, at least very slowly. Going
on the previous disasters, I have no desire to rush into anything, regardless of how good it feels. The main thing I have considered very carefully,
is the impact having a partner can and will have on my girls. For the last six years or so I have been single, and basically my daughters have pretty
much had their dads’ attention 100%. Now, finding myself in a delicate balance to fit all three into my life, it has caused a strange and unusual
thought that has arisen with my eldest daughter of late.
Recently my daughter began to ask questions about her biological parents. Nothing out of the ordinary, just what they were like, what kind of people
they were. We got to talking quite a bit, and I finally managed to open up to her about her mother’s life, something that has always been hard for
me to do. She then came straight out and asked how her mother actually died, and why I had never told her before.
I have to be honest, the second part kind of floored me. I guess I didn’t want to dredge up and lay out old memories about how her mother was at the
end, and kidded myself that explaining to her how cancer silently kills was something she wouldn’t understand until she was older. I really thought
I wouldn’t be explaining this until she was in her mid-teens, but here it was right now, a question right there, waiting to be answered.
So I was honest. I told her that I felt she wouldn’t understand how cancer kills the body until she was a little older, and that I was waiting for
the right time to explain it all. Honestly, I did my best to explain how it all worked, and how her mother succumbed to the disease. She then asked me
why it was her mother was so young when she died from cancer, as she thought it was something that only affected older people. I explained that cancer
affects everyone, from young children to old people, in varying degrees. She digested all this information thoughtfully, and I asked her if she wanted
to use the internet to study how the disease actually works. She did say no, but I suspect I will find her looking it up at some point, as my
suggestion alights to study and schoolwork, something we tend to clash on quite a bit.
After a moment, I asked her why it was she thought to come to me now with the questions about her mother, as she has rarely, if ever broached the
subject. Her answer surprised me even more. It would seem the new woman in my life has made quite an impression on my girls, and it has left my eldest
daughter worried about where things are headed for all of us. She worries that this lady might just end up as her mother did, a memory at some point.
I asked her if she remembered her mother at all, she said no. She has no memory of her mother at all. Granted, she was only three when her mother
died, but I thought she would have had some residual memory.
I did try to explain to her that this relationship is a very casual approach by two people that is going extremely slowly, and that we will continue
to live apart, at our own places and just hang out together, like friends. That, as a couple, we’re in no rush to be anywhere and will be for a long
time to come. I don’t think she really understood the premise though. I can’t blame her really. Part of me even doesn’t.
After this she pretty much left the subject where it was, simply saying she thought this new woman was awesome, and I should be happy with someone.
Basically, it was her way of saying ‘this person is approved.’ In a way it’s kind of a relief, as I expected the complete opposite. I said to
her if she had any more questions to just ask, that I would and always have been honest with her. She just says ‘I know,’ and takes off.
What I learned from all this is that sometimes you may think your kids aren’t ready to understand the realities of life, especially when it is a
subject that is not easy to bring up, such as death and disease. We do our best to shelter our kids from these realities, but in truth, they generally
have it all figured out before we even bring the subject up, and are much hardier than we give them credit for sometimes. And while I don’t look
forward to the teenage years as much as I have the past, I understand now my daughter is just as switched on to the world as I’d always hoped she
edit on 17/2/2013 by 74Templar because: grammar