A couple of weeks ago, Little Guy asked me if my dad is still alive.
“Yes,” I said.
“You’re lucky you still have a dad,” he said.
“I suppose I am,” I said.
I hadn’t seen this situation from LIttle Guy’s perspective until then. He asked about my dad, as he does every now and then, because we have no relationship, so Little Guy forgets the answer. My dad makes no effort to have a relationship. After years (and tears) of making an effort to have a relationship with my dad and getting nothing in return but some snide comments, I stopped. I couldn’t change him, nor can I expect him to change. Somehow, I put up with his bad behavior because I believe in treating people with kindness. That’s the nice way to put it.
Now, I make minimal effort. I leave the door open. I send a birthday card and a Christmas card to my dad almost every year. He has my number. He has my address. So does our family. I get nothing in return. Ever.
I leave the door open with no expectation that he’ll ever walk through it. Maybe he will. “Never say never,” Little Guy reminds me. “Anything is possible.”
Okay, anything is possible, and I want to teach my son forgiveness and kindness, and I applaud his optimism.
I also want to teach my son to be strong. I praise him when he speaks his mind, like when he lets the barber know how he likes his hair cut and when she has dared to come close to the hairs he said not to cut. He isn’t mean about it. He communicates what he wants. I love that! I have tried to do more of that lately, and you know what? It feels good and leaves out any guessing on anyone’s part.
I sent my dad’s birthday card today. Maybe I should have written more than an heartfelt wish for a happy day. I wanted to express that my son thinks I’m lucky to have a dad that’s alive. It’s hard for me to feel lucky when I feel tossed out like the trash by him. Unwanted. So I didn’t write that because I couldn’t finish the thought without thinking my own snide comment and unkind thoughts.
I want to feel lucky that my dad is still alive. And I want him to feel lucky to have a daughter, a really strong daughter raising a really strong boy, his grandson.
Sometimes I wonder, should I have stood my ground with him earlier on and spoken my mind and hung up on him when he offended me in the past. Why do I always put up with other people’s mistreatment, other people’s bullshit? Even at work? Even in my relationships? Does taking the high road and showing kindness equate to getting crapped on because people know I’ll put up with it? Where’s the line and where do I find a way to quickly assess what people say to me as crap that I shouldn’t put up with? How do I remain calm, kind AND strong?
My theme song lately: Katy Perry’s “Roar.”
“I am the champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar, louder, louder than a lion!”
I will start roaring. LIfe is too short to put up with other people’s crap.