Tuesday, September 26, 2006

"Daddy"

When "Angel" first saw me, her first word was "Daddy!" Beth saw this immediately for what it was...RAD. I was forewarned, but I still enjoyed the sound of it coming from that little girl. There was a lot of heartache with the whole "Angel" saga, but there was good stuff in there too, as longer-term readers of this blog know.

Now I have a new "Daddy" situation.

"Jenny" likes me. A LOT. She's right there when I get home from work at night, and mostly stays with me until her bedtime. She's made the spot next to me at the supper table her own. I've had to make a nightly habit of walking Willy and telling "Jenny" that's our "guy time". Not because I don't like her, but because that's my alone time, which as a card-carrying introvert I need regularly.

"Jenny" wants me to tickle her. She wants me to watch TV and/or movies with her. She just wants to spend time with me...and I don't blame her. As far as I know, I'm the first steady, always-there father figure in her life who pays attention to her. Plus, I'm her main source of gumballs. Not only am I "Daddy", I'm also her sugar daddy...in the most literal sense possible.

Last night, I finally tired her out enough that she started to mellow out. We had gone into the garage so she could play on the motorcycle and lawnmower (one of her favorite pastimes), we had several pillow fights, I tickled her until she almost threw up, and on and on until she laid down on the couch next to where I was sitting and put her head in my lap and watched TV with me.

Suddenly she lifted her head and looked at me with a quizzical expression on her face and said "Daddy..." Just like that, including the elipses. It was thoughtful, almost like she was trying the word on for size to see if it fit. Apparently it did, because a smile of something like relief lit her face, and she said more confidently "Daddy."

This is NOT a case of RAD. This girl seems very, very normal. Her home life has not been as problematic as some we've seen, she's very well-adjusted in most areas, and she's had some time to get used to us and her new (if temporary) home. She lives with her stepfather and mother, and her stepfather's work keeps him away from home a majority of the time, and the time he is there seems to be spent mostly either sleeping or on the computer.

This appears so far to be a simple case of not having a man who has stepped up to the plate and been there for her the way a dad should. Well, here I am, girl. I'm not your "real" daddy, and I can't be your daddy forever, but while you're here I'll do the best job I can. I'll help make sure you're clean, and fed, and get your exercise and your meds and I'll love you the best I can.

Parenting is powerful and important stuff, and I'm starting to get a sense of the awesome responsibility and difficulty I've invited into my life. There are things I can do for these kids and more things I can't. It gets difficult to keep them separated sometimes...but I think I can be a temporary daddy for this girl if that's what she's craving.

I know that feeling well. I've had my daddy in my life since I was born, he did a great job all my life, I still see him regularly and I still crave him sometimes when he's not around. Daddies don't grow on trees, and I guess people who don't have enough of a daddy will grab on to whatever looks like it might work to fill that void.

5 Comments:

At 7:09 AM , Blogger HopeToBeBlessed said...

Hey there! I found your blog yesterday and was immediately enthralled by your whole saga. We are looking foster to adopt and are pretty terrified by the whole process. It's very interesting to read your feelings first getting into it and then see how they change and grow later on, and also how similar they are to ours. I feel so much for "Josie" and I remember how hard it was to be a teenage girl in general without throwing the other stuff into the mix. You are such good people to try and give that girl a stable home and while she might not realize it right this second, I promise you she will when she "grows up." I see blogs from former foster children all the time that say they gave their foster parents hell and they felt bad but if it wasn't for their foster parents they'd be homeless and they were eternally grateful that nobody gave up on them. Anyways, I just wanted to say thanks for blogging and you've inspired me to start my own. Keep up the good work!!

 
At 8:27 AM , Blogger FosterAbba said...

Be careful of kids who call you "Daddy" too soon. She may just be a needy kid wanting a father figure, or she may have history of sexual abuse and her friendly overtures may be an indication of something more sinister.

Just be careful, don't get yourself hurt, and be mindful about games that involve tickling another other horseplay as those games could lead to false abuse allegations down the road.

I hate that, as foster parents, we have to think about these things. It sucks that in addition to protecting our children from their abusers, we also have to worry about protecting ourselves from our children.

 
At 10:44 AM , Blogger Yondalla said...

Well...I share you joy. Carl did not call me "mom" until after I got really, really mad and him and he thought I would kick him out, and didn't. The other boys have never done it.

You post made me think about the rules my agency has about things like tickling and I am workig on a post about it. If you come over and read it, please know that I am just bouncing my thoughts around. No judgment, just thinkin'

 
At 5:34 AM , Blogger Heather said...

I have to say that the tickle fests could cause problems for you. She seems too old for that anyway. It's a sad world we live in, unfortunately, and a guy can't be too careful.

 
At 2:48 PM , Anonymous AuntieJ said...

A girl does need her daddy and it is very hard when you think your life is perfect and find out almost too late that it is not..My Daddy dissapointed alot so it's good to hear you talk about being there like a real father should be. I love my dad but we dont have the kind of relationship that i wish we could or should have had. I see my husbands relationship with his dad and yours with your dad and it makes me sad sometimes because i will never have the kind of relationship that either of you do. Maybe that is why i am closer to my sister...she has to play mom and dad for me sometimes...So give your Dad a hug for me next time you see him...

 

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