What a Friday night...
My darling daughter…uh… “became a woman” as they euphemistically say. Leanne wasn’t expecting this development quite so soon and was quickly explaining all the “details” to her...
...just before she left to go for a planned “girls night out”, leaving me with a grumpy and emotional 11-year-old.
Being a guy I figured “ignore it and it will all go away” was a perfectly sound and prudent philosophy.
No such luck.
“I’m sad”, Maddie confided to me later in the evening.
Uh-oh. Red alert! Deny everything!
Wait! Maybe she’s sad about something ELSE! Maybe Leanne didn’t let Maddie know that I knew.
Maybe I can crawl into a hole.
“Why are you sad?” I asked, naively hoping the answer would be something… ANYTHING… else.
“You KNOW why! I know Mom told you!”
Oh SHIT! Damned women! Why must they conspire against me? And NOW what do I say? This is a situation where I imagine saying the wrong thing could result in decades of therapy sessions for my little girl… er… woman… er…female offspring. I scour my brain for something comforting while not downplaying this important change in her life. Come on brain! Give me something!!! Hello? Brain? BRAIN??? Okay… how ‘bout my heart? Got something compassionate for me? What? You mean all you REALLY do is circulate blood? NOW you tell me! Besides, the whole “blood” thing is a rather sensitive topic right now. Shit… I’ve got NOTHING!!!
“Uh… well… this is all new to you now. You’ll get used to it!”
THAT’S all I’ve got? I have an IQ that supposedly qualifies me for membership in Mensa as well as a command of language I imagine is at least slightly above average and THAT’S all I can come up with???
“Dad! That didn’t help and I’m still sad.”
Total brain lock. Panic mode. Pulse rising… sweat beads forming… Mayday! Mayday! Bail!!! BAIL!!!!
“Uh… maybe mom will be home soon. She knows more about that stuff.”
If only I were a Taliban dad in the wilds of Afghanistan... I’d know it was time to toss a Burkha over her for the rest of her life and tell her she could no longer continue her education. It’s stupid and medieval and all… but unlike me at least that dad knows what he’s expected to DO! Not only that, the Taliban dad probably has access to some killer opiates. Oh how I envy him!
I know... all you women can start your "all men are pigs" attacks, but I suspect all the guys who have faced this situation will know what I'm talking about.
All the guys except Alan Alda. Somehow, I get the feeling he would come up with the perfect, sensitive and life-validating thing to say in such a situation.
But I'm afraid the rest of us guys merely provide job security for future generations of psychoanalysts.