Last night my daughter Kinsey and I hung out. We didn't watch a movie, we didn't watch a TV show, we just talked. It was fun and something we don't do often enough.
I think she was bored with her Sims 3 game. I recently got her a bunch of expansions and I know the fun and excitement only lasts so long. I was cleaning the kitchen and she came in and started telling me about her time up north.
She recently came back from Northern Minnesota and has been telling me tons of stories. It's been years since I've been to those parts, but I spent many moons there, and I love to hear about her experiences.
Before too long I was telling her stories about when she was little. She asked me about when I first met her; I had been afraid of being a dad and didn't take responsibility for her right away, but eventually realized it was something I needed to do, for her more than for me (you'd understand if you knew her mother).
When she was born I wanted nothing to do with her mom, and I was in total denial. I believe my mom and my grandma had seen Kinsey at the hospital, though they didn't tell me at the time. I eventually got a job in Northern Minnesota as a cook at a camp, I think I mostly wanted to escape what was going on but it was also a good opportunity and I learned a lot working there.
I came into the cities every so often, after I had a vehicle to use. It took me some 4 or 5 hours I think just to go one way, so I liked to stay for a few days. On one occasion I met Kinsey.
I remember the second occasion more because her mother had showed up with a friend of hers, and said friend had a little kid the same age as Kinsey, and it made me very anxious; I didn't know if I would know my kid from the other.
It all worked out, and this was another story I told Kinsey tonight. I went on about how her mother dated sex offenders, how her mema (her mom's mom) always came up with excuses for me to not be able to see her, and how her mom would try to sneak out of the apartment without saying goodbye only to upset her (if she just said goodbye and told her she would be back later, all would have been fine!).
Then she started asking more questions, which I answered as honestly as I thought I should while she is 13 years old.
When her mema died, her mom moved with her to a town some 3 hours away. I told her how I drove down there one day and applied for jobs and apartments, then came home and drove back the next day to interview for said jobs and apartments. I also told her how I heard her mother on that second day, through an open window as I left the house, say that I was ruining everything trying to move down there.
A few days later her mother told me to come and get her and that she could live with me. I think she had some issues with where she was living, it was the 3rd place that summer that had lived at, and she at least knew that Kinsey needed a stable home.
Kinsey went to (one of) the same elementary schools I went to, and that was the year I took a picture of her every day. I got a job near where I live now, and by the end of the school year we were living out this way too.
Since then she has been in the same school district and had some of the same friends since we got here. She reminded me of some bad times, like when she and her friends got punched in the stomach at lunchtime while she was attending my old elementary school, but she was okay with it now and happy we didn't still live in that district. If we were still there she would have gone to my junior high and probably be starting at my high school in the fall. Thank Glob we live over here.
Then we made fun of anti-vaxers. LOL!
It's nice to know that she and I agree on some things, like how vaccinations don't cause autism and people who they do are ignorant and hurting our society.
We traded stories about things we had read; I told her about recent posts on facebook and she told me about how stupid people were.
I never try to talk bad about her mother in front of her, but as time goes on things slip out. Tonight she talked bad about her mother! Well, nothing too bad, she loves her mom but knows she can be a bit crazy. She told me about the time her mom thought her apartment was haunted, and how her mom was a pagan and that she probably didn't know what that meant. And how, when she told her mom about some things she learned about on Penn & Tellers Bullshit , her mom told her not to believe that stuff because they are just comedians.
I was very proud of Kinsey when she said she told her mom that they have researchers and they know what they are talking about, and how she just shrugged off her mothers warning. I made sure to tell her I don't usually believe what just anyone says, but some people like The Skeptics Guide to the Universe, I Fucking Love Science, or Penn & Teller's Bullshit are sources I trust. For most others I make sure to look them up before blindly believing them, and sometimes I verify info even from a trusted source.
We talked about a few other things, like animal rights and how she needs to watch "Blackfish". Eventually she fell asleep and I turned on "Naked and Afraid".
She has already seen all the episodes, so I needed to catch up.
I love spending 4-5 hours chatting with my daughter. I like that she has similar opinions to me, but most of all I like how she basis those opinions not on me telling her them but on scientific evidence. She has learned about vaccinations in school, and how not getting them can affect our community. She has read about how sea mammals like whales and dolphins have similar brains as humans but the aren't quite the same (though she loved the video of dolphins helping humans catch fish, with the dolphins getting the stragglers, and the fact that the dolphins taught their kids how to do the same job!).
I love being her friend, and that's what makes it hard to be a dad. There is a fine line; do the dishes, wash your laundry, take out the trash. She needs to learn responsibility but I also love the person she is becoming and want to be friends with her.
I suppose it may take a few years, but she will be off to college (SCHOLARSHIPS PLEASE!) and out of the house and we can start to be real friends then. Right now I need to raise her right, and it looks like I am on the right track. Once she is grown and making her own decisions about her life, I can be her friend.
For now I still worry about who she hangs out with and how late they stay out. I wonder if that will ever go away. Probably not.
Maybe we can never be friends. Dang, it's hard being a dad.