The jokes I used to laughed at and the stories that were once funny have lost their humor to me. Now that I am a “Dad” I am most afraid of my past returning like a cruel joke. I am afraid of Karma and the inevitable things like my little girl’s first boyfriend, or her first crush.
I already told my daughter all she needs to know about boys. Yes, she is still very young, but I feel this lesson is extremely valuable. I have given her the one lesson, which I know will translate throughout her life. And I repeat this lesson often, or at least as often as I can so my little girl will remember my helpful advice. And no, the advice is not, “Stay away from boys,” or “You’re not allowed to date until you’re 35 years-old.”
In a conversation that began after my daughter explained that she liked a boy (enter an over-protective father’s heart attack here) I listened as she told me how this boy hurt her feelings. Of course, this simple little crush was harmless. And yes, of course, nothing really happened. And no, I did not feel the need to beat, threaten, or destroy this boy’s entire family. (Much)
Instead, I saw this as a perfect opportunity to explain the behavior and various shortcomings of my gender.
I said, “Punky.”
(I’ve been calling her punky since she was the size of my arm from my wrist to the inside of my elbow)
“I want you to remember something.”
Punky looked up at me with these beautifully innocent eyes. These are the kind of eyes that can only be had by a little girl when she looks up at her Daddy.
I continued, “All boys, understand me? All of them, even men.”
My little girl waited for my explanation with a curious, but ever so innocent and slightly uncomfortable smile.
I emphasized, “ALL OF THEM,” to make sure Punky understood.
Punky nodded to show that she was following me.
“I want you to listen,” I said. “Every single boy you know and every man you see, got it?.”
Punky hung on my every word.
“Got it,” she answered.
I told her, “All men are animals. Understand me?”
Punky answered, “Yes Daddy.”
“Good!” I acknowledged.
“All men are animals,” I told her. “But some just make better pets. And those are the boys I want you to say with.”
She laughed the kind of uncomfortable laugh that comes out when a parent speaks to their child about dating or members of the opposite sex. I shook my head in disbelief because the boys I warned her about is the boy I once was. I never understood how wonderfully fragile a little girl could be. Also, I never understood how tragic it is for a father to see his daughter cry.
When I was somewhere around the age of 14 or 15, I was invited to a girl’s house for supper. To describe myself at the time, my hair was scraggly and long with bangs that covered much of my face. My eyes were half-closed and bloodshot. My face was bright red and my pupils were oversized due to the chemical reaction that follows the consumption of LSD. In addition, I reeked of cigarettes and gin and my condition was obviously messy.
I was wearing Timberland steel-tip boots, and a pair of jeans with intentional bleach stains, which were ripped at the knees. I wore a t-shirt with the name of my favorite band across the front. The band’s name is Metallica. On the front of my shirt were blue lightning bolts that struck an electrocuted skeleton of a man while being electrocuted in an electric chair.
Beneath this were the words, “Ride the Lightening,” which was the name of the band’s second album. On the backside were the words, “Kill’em All.” This was the name of the band’s first album. Beneath these words was a picture of a hammer lying beside a pool of red blood.
I was invited to the home of a girl I knew little about. I only knew she liked me, but yet, I was never sure why. I knew she asked me to come to her house, and once more, I knew she asked me to stay for dinner. However, I had no idea her parents would be home.
Needless to say, her father was not thrilled with my company. I could feel his eyes watching me as I sat at his dining room table. If I recall correctly, the couches in the living room were covered in plastic and every room had either a picture of Jesus or a statue of Mary in it.
Also, I was in the middle of a wild LSD trip. I could feel the walls of the dining room pulsating and moving. Sound echoed and any movement of any object was followed by a hallucination of trails that followed in its path.
I sat at the table, looking down, so that the father could not see my eyes. The mother was serving chicken. It was a white cutlet, which looked more like a white leach to me. The sides of the cutlet appeared to wiggle and move, but worse was the rice that was placed beside the chicken. The rice was brown. It looked like a pile of wiggling maggots on my plate.
I assume I must have said something when the plate was put in front of me. And yes, I am sure it was something brilliant like, “Whoa!” or, “Duuude!”
I know that I was uneasy and the last thing I wanted to do was eat. Instead, I stared at the plate with an open mouth and freaked out expression.
“What is that?” asked the father.
“What’s that on your shirt,” he asked.
“What does it say?”
“It says Metallica.”
“Oh,” said the father and nodded as if my answer made sense.
“And that picture right there on the front, what’s that?”
I answered in a voice that proved I was unmistakably high.
“It’s a guy being fried in an electric chair.”
“Oh,” said the father. “I see.”
“And what does that say on the bottom,” he asked.
With my eyes still focused on the wiggling rice that looked like maggots and the white piece of chicken that appeared to slither on my plate, I answered, “Ride the lightening,” with a line of drool hanging from my bottom lip.
The father clasped his hands beneath his chin with his elbows rested on the table. His eyebrows folded downward, illustrating that he was reaching a boiling point.
“And on the back,” asked the father. “What does that say on the back of your shirt?”
Still mesmerized by the hallucinations, I slurred loudly, “It says, Kill’em all.”
Next thing I knew, I was lifted from the chair. It seemed the father had enough. He had enough of my choice of clothing. But more he had enough of me spending time with his daughter. As a result, the father walked over to my chair while my eyes were still fixed on the bizarre looking plate. He then lifted my up by swirling my shirt around his clenched fist. Then he walked me through the house, passed the plastic seat-covered furniture, he opened the door, and then he tossed me from the front stoop, and on to his front yard where he threatened, “Don’t you ever come near my daughter or my house again! Do you understand me?”
I understood . . .
This was my first run in with an over-protective father and it was certainly not my last.
I guess it’s all fun and games until we have children of our own.
It’s hard not being around my child all the time. It is hard being a divorced dad, and it’s frightening to think that one day, my little Punky will choose a boyfriend. But whenever the subject comes up, I always remind her.
“Remember kid, they’re all animals. Just stick with the ones that make better pets”
I went to one of my daughter’s school functions a few months back. I watched the boys run around and the girls gather off in their own little clique. But when I saw Punky talking to a boy . . . I have to admit, it was bitter sweet. I saw her smile that excited, but yet, still unsure smile that happens when a girl likes a boy, but she is unsure if he likes her back.
In all my life, I have never seen anything as beautiful as her . . .
She’s getting older now. But no matter how old she gets. I will always see her as my Little Punky