Sunday, March 22, 2015

Girl Talk

When growing up, Jill told me she loved to go on walks w/ her dad.  It was a comfortable, uninterrupted experience the two of them could share just catching up on anything.  Free-flowing conversation.

Jill mentioned this to me after I had expressed to her my great appreciation for my walks w/ Rory.

Over the last several years, weather permitting, Ro and I will often head out after dinner for a relaxed stroll around the neighborhood.  I see it as a time for both of us to unwind...and for me to hear Ro's stream of consciousness about that day's happenings.

I've learned that if you literally set Rory in motion, she'll spill.

And I'm a dad that wants to know.  Honestly, even when I don't want to know I want to know.

Oftentimes Jilly and I would walk up to school in the afternoon to pick Rory up.  Two birds, one stone in my mind.  Jilly was getting in some exercise/activity.  And we got the inside school scoop from Ro as we worked our way back home.

In fact, I have a recording on my phone of one such experience.  It was early last year (spring semester second grade) and Rory was giving us the play-by-play of that day's recess drama.  And while she was certainly sharing the details w/ both of us, I have to be honest w/ myself and admit that she was leaning her mouth in Mommy's direction.  So, I decided to hit record and capture some of the post school back-and-forth.  Rory serving up a plate full of social situations and Jilly casually, yet constructively lobbing advice back to her daughter.

Rory has a great ability to get fixated on a certain situation, verbally analyzing it from all possible angles until she's likely exhausted her audience (Jill and/or me) before running out of steam herself.  She beats that dead horse to oblivion.  (Who the fuck beats a dead horse?  Gross.)

As a result, at least 2-3 times a week, I'd get exasperated side comments from Jilly like, "If I hear anymore about how so-and-so didn't keep her promise on the playground today, I'm going to snap on this kid."

We both knew we couldn't attempt to turn Rory off.  Because turning her off would mean turning her away.  And we want nothing more than for our child to come to us for everything.

Bring it.  Bring it all.

And as Rory continues to grow up, this policy remains intact.  You want to talk about something - anything - you come to me and I'll listen.  I may not want to deal w/ it.  But, this is part of the parental package.  Step up and step in.  And I like to think that I do.

But while the 'open door, open ears' policy continues, the topics are (d)evolving.  Boys are starting to creep into the conversations.  Boys and makeup.  Boys and makeup and more 'complex' girl issues.

And while I remain fully engaged, I fear Rory is starting to (maybe naturally) readjust her dad lens, realizing girl talk is (slightly) out of focus w/ Dad.

I imagine it can be difficult to attempt to have girl talk w/ a guy...and will only become more so...and I think we're both picking up on this inevitability.

It's not that I'm not hearing her or offering sound advice.  It's just simply that I'm a dude.  And it ain't the same.  And Rory freaking knows it.  And it kills me.

Rory needs that prominent girl figure in her life that she can turn to and lean on now and in the future.  And while I think she has several high quality options, none of them are w/in arms reach.

None of them are in the bedroom next door reading a book.

None of them are in the kitchen cooking dinner.

None of them are on the couch in the living room, playing Hay Day, teed up for their daughter to come to them w/ all the juicy girl talk details.

I can, do, and will continue to disguise myself as the dad that can hold his own in the girl talk tank.  But, slowly I believe my disguise is beginning to unravel.  And when it's gone, and Rory finds she's standing in front of her dad, I hope to G-d she has the right person to turn to for constructive, respectful, and supremely meaningful guidance.

Where are you, Jilly?

All love,

J, J, & r

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