Once upon a time there was a very excited young girl of 13 who one night found herself sitting with her family, happily watching TV. She was also anxiously awaiting the answer to a most important question she asked of her father. A question that would determine the fate of the child’s beloved. An answer with the power to forever change the course of her life. A single one-word reply delicately held the balance between chaos and calm. She knew that her daddy would be the one to swoop in and save the day for her. He’d do anything for her and she just knew it; he was the best daddy ever (there was ample proof of this for when she was little she would frequently present him with hand-crafted awards attesting to this fact).
When her most wonderful and beloved father finally arrived he was –in her adoring eyes– riding a pink unicorn that burst into the house atop its very own magic rainbow. Father was dripping with sparkles and spraying intense beams of sunshine into the room. She sprang to her feet with a glorious leap that would render the most proficient of kangaroos acrimonious with envy. She squealed with glee at the moment of truth: father was here to grant her wish at last!
And he knew of the intense pressure that had been placed upon him before his arrival. He had known that when he was to next see his delicate little princess she would be on the verge of experiencing every single positive emotion she’d ever felt, all in a single moment; a nuclear tween blast 13 years in the making. Fathers know these things, don’t they?
First he went into the kitchen to address his hunger and thirst, as well as to give her the chance to discuss the matter. Things of this magnitude are not to be taken lightly. She followed and watched, patiently – an uncommon trait for her. He slowly prepared a tea and then un-boxed some cold pizza, offering her some of course. He knew she didn’t like pizza; he knew she didn’t want to do anything except cross the bridge to the answer she had been so patiently waiting for. The elephant in the room was crushing her, but she didn’t want to risk asking again for fear of jinxing it. Did he bring it up? No, he didn’t, and he wasn’t going to either, but she didn’t know that. She filled the uncomfortable silence by excitedly talking about how many things would be set right in her world in only a few moments, hinting desperately to him that she was on the edge of the cliff.
As he should, he had more patience than she. He calmly moved his tea and cold pizza into the living room to join the rest of his wonderful family. This family was not the typical family as it was both split and mixed at the same time. This beautiful young lady was his oldest child born to a woman with whom they did not live, but rather they shared her. Father was remarried now, to a great woman who fully captured his heart, and together they gave her a little brother – her ONLY little brother. No one ever did learn how she felt about that little brother, but it was most certainly clear by her actions that this little boy held higher status than that of her closest younger sister. For a splendid 15 seconds he held the world in his palm for he had everyone he truly loved in one room, and they were all happy. He sipped his tea and it was the perfect temperature. His cold pizza wasn’t anything special, but it served its purpose. He soaked up the minute details of the moment and inwardly wished that this was normal. Moments like this don’t come along often, they’re rare, in fact. One might say that they should be cherished. Maybe that’s true, but not for this father. He marches to a different beat.
His little princess finally broke down and asked one more time, trying to sound as upbeat as she could, “Daddy, can you put the internet on my iPhone, please?” This might sound like such a simple question to most, but for her it was a gateway to a new beginning. She had only received this magical device mere hours ago, from her mother no less. Her mommy was so cool, and so kind, and so giving! Her first iPhone 4S, in white, packed with her favorite songs and WiFi access, but no cellular. Her mother was wise enough to give her time to prove that she could handle the device before allowing her to fully experience all of the joys that the magical iPhone offers.
Even though she asked politely, he did what only came naturally to him. “I don’t think I want to do that,” he said flatly. He wanted to grant her wish, he really did. He knew that there would be consequences to saying no, but he also knew that there would be greater consequences to saying yes.
With those 8 words he managed to shatter every single one of her hopes and dreams. There would be no recovering from this one. He was supposed to save her, but he didn’t. He ripped her rainbow colored heart out and threw it on the ground where he could apply all the force his 205 pound body could direct into a size 13 foot. How could he!?
The light of the rainbow flickered just then. She grasped as the harsh reality began to sink in, “how will I talk to mommy?” The depth of his uncaring heart was finally revealed as he calmly replied, “not putting internet on that changes nothing. You can carry on as you did before you got it.” Had she not been able to reach her before now? No, of course she could. It was a poorly formed negotiation on her part, the devastation in her heart was preventing her from thinking clearly or she would have been able to come up with a much better argument.
He was a stone cold –maybe even evil– man. They were right, they who warned her of him. She hadn’t believed before and now she could not deny it.
Reality delivered one of its harshest blows. Sadness. Unbearable sadness. No, not sadness, emptiness! Her head fell parallel to the floor. She was defeated. Alone. Empty. Her dreams gone, her daddy had stolen them from her. She slowly and quietly crept out of the “living” room, silently slid up the stairs and retreated to the darkness of her bedroom where she could finally be safe. Where no one would notice her. Where she could at least hide under the blankets if that venomous warlock of a man ever tried to enter. It was the most secure location she had available to her, and it would have to do for the next 3 days until she would be able to make her escape to the land of WiFi access and the caring embrace of BFFs and anonymous Instagram likes.
Did her father chase after her or try to talk to her? Hell no! He finished his pizza and drank that tea! It was the perfect temperature and it’s only like that in a very short window of opportunity. He realized that he could have done without that pizza though, and he was regretting it before he finished it. He only took it because it was slowing him down and it gave him an opportunity to offer her a slice – it was a deliberate distraction at best. He did listen closely to her retreat though. He heard her close her window and flick off the light. He surmised that his refusal to put the internet on her precious new white iPhone 4S resulted in a complete withdrawal from society to the point where the only remaining option was sleep.
Time passes with such ease during sleep, and there were only 3 days left. Just 3 days until she could connect to the people who matter most, to the endless stream of memes, selfies and likes. Only 3 more days until she could reconnect with an endless supply of “other,” more caring people who could really understand her struggle with a father like that.
Little did she know, her father only wanted to have a short chat about how to properly make use such a device. She didn’t know that he just wanted to ensure that she would be responsible with it. She didn’t know that he just wanted to feel confident that neither of its two cameras would see things a camera should not see. She didn’t know that he just wanted to hear her explain how she would not do anything that could harm her, or anyone else. She didn’t know that he also wanted to know if she knew how to use its features like connecting to WiFi networks and how to make an emergency call. She didn’t know the most important thing: he just wanted to make sure that his little princess was going to be safe, as all daddies do.
She didn’t get that chance to spend that time with her daddy. He was too mean, he could not understand her, and now she couldn’t even stand to be in the same room as these people who claim to be her “family.”
The struggle is real.
3 more days.