My husband’s birthday was this week so my children and I headed to our regular grocery store to buy him some birthday cards. This was quite a weighty decision for Little Princess because being 4 requires that you really debate the merits of pop-up cards. It also means that you forget what you’re doing when you see sparkly cards that you might like for yourself. After the 4th or 5th suggestion of a Barbie/princess/rainbow birthday card I reminded my daughter that these cards were for her father.
That’s when she loudly yelled, “He’s NOT my father!”
My husband and I have been married for 10 years and he is most definitely the father of my children in every sense of the word. My daughter, however, calls him “Daddy” and she felt that father and daddy didn’t have the same connotation, which is why she protested my statement so vehemently. All of which I felt the need to explain to the people standing nearby who, from my point of view, were giving us odd looks.
I knew they were thinking, “how sad that that woman is forcing her children to buy cards for some new guy in her life and trying to pretend that he’s their father. Or maybe he IS the baby’s father. She’d have to be pretty fast moving to have that baby AND a new guy. So the older kid must belong to someone else and the BABY is the new guy’s. But she does have on wedding rings–maybe the older kid was from a first relationship and now she resents the new marriage. Poor little girl. “
I attribute a lot of internal monologue to people I don’t know. That’s probably why I began to correct my daughter in a commanding tone, making sure that I pointed out that my husband IS her father. She continued to argue over me every time I said the word father, so I’m pretty sure that if any strangers WERE listening, I just made it worse. And since none of the strangers would make eye contact with me, my only recourse was to have a conversation with my daughter that I intended for the innocent bystanders to overhear.
By the end of the card-shopping adventure even I began to believe that my husband is not actually related to my daughter and that we’re really just forcing her to try to love him. This is, of course, the same store where I had my recent embarrassing pharmacy incident so I’ve decided it’s best if I just don’t talk to strangers anymore. It’s bad for my self-esteem.