I have four kids. Two sons — teenagers, and twins, who are ten years old. Three sons and a daughter (one of the twins). Throughout my fatherhood, I’ve been trying to prove to myself and occasionally to others that I treat my kids the same! I do! I love them the same! I am against parental favoritism.
But my daughter... I could never be rude or rough with her. Never. I can be rough, rude, and physical with my boys. Never with my daughter.
I’m not a very attentive person. I forget things and I lose things. I forget birthdays. I’m terrible at giving presents. But when my daughter asks me something, I can never ignore or forget it; and if I do, I rush to correct my mistake even if it means going back to the grocery store late at night to get something silly, like chocolate chips, that she needs for her occasional cooking sprees.
How can my heart not melt when she does this? She does it because she does it, not because someone reminds her:
A few years ago we were stuck in traffic, visiting LA. It was my birthday. Taisiya handed me this from the back seat of our minivan:
Taisiya is a tennis player. Maybe one day she’ll become a star. Actually, she will. Not maybe. My wife and I have a rule that I don’t have much of a say in Taisiya’s tennis. I respect this rule because it’s my wife who spends countless hours on the court with Taisiya.
Occasionally though my wife sends me to Taisiya’s tournaments. I’m a quiet tennis parent. You will never see me clap like crazy. But I sit there nervous, full of love, supporting my daughter no matter what, respecting her maturity and grace, which can never, never be shattered, even when she’s struggling.
I love my boys too! But when they’re struggling, when I’m struggling, we are anything but graceful. We’re a fucking mess, in our actions, words, and appearance.