From the very beginning my daughter and I had a very close and special bond. I knew it was because we had endured so much during the pregnancy and yet, despite all the obstacles we had overcome I still attempted to create some kind of bond between her and her father. I didn’t speak about the abuse around her and even when he wasn’t there I told her that he loved and missed her. Despite my efforts it quickly became clear that she knew more than she let on. During the time he was with her it was obvious that there was no real connection between them.
As her vocabulary grew she never hesitated to speak her mind to him. I’ll never forget a phone call that took place shortly before Elizabeth’s 2nd birthday. He had called to talk to her and I was listening somewhat to her talk about her day and what she had been doing. Every couple minutes I would hear her stop and say, “My name is Elizabeth”. Eventually after telling him this repeatedly she got very angry, yelled, “I’m not your princess, I’m Elizabeth!” and threw the phone against the wall. This display of anger was shocking to me but before I could respond she informed me that she was done talking and stormed away to her bedroom. I calmly picked up the phone and said, “You called her princess didn’t you?” As shocked as I was, he was clearly even more shocked. He said, “Yes, why did she get so angry?” I responded that I had heard her tell him repeatedly that her name was Elizabeth and asked him why he didn’t stop then. His reason was that she had always been his princess and he didn’t think it was that big of a deal. I explained that she was growing up rather quickly and he needed to realize that she is figuring out who she is, and in her mind, calling her princess is the equivalent of calling her baby, and that is a phase of life that she had since outgrown. I imagine this was the moment he realized that he was losing her. From that point his calls started coming less frequently and when they did it was short, sweet and to the point. He no longer asked what she’d been doing and she didn’t offer anything in return.
Several months later he came to visit for the afternoon. I had assured him that we didn’t have any plans and he could spend the entire day with her. He arrived about three hours late despite his claims that he wanted to spend as much time as possible with her. Her reaction of “Oh, hi dad” before returning to her toys had me suppressing a deep laugh. After regaining control, I asked her if she would like to show daddy the toys in her room. She sighed and said “Okay” and led him into her room. That day he spent five hours visiting with frequent smoke breaks and multiple breaks in general to tell me about all of his ‘good Samaritan deeds’ from the last several weeks. It became clear rather quickly that the visit wasn’t rotating around him like he wanted so when a friend called inquiring about his plans for the night he quickly used it as his opportunity to escape.
To a degree I’m happy about my daughter’s ability to see people for who they truly are but at the same time it saddens me to know that she doesn’t have a father to look towards for guidance. I often pray that someday a man will become a part of our lives so she doesn’t have to grow up like I did, with a father that could care less about anyone but himself.