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A Mountain Of Small Things
No matter how much they try to deny it, every kid has a favorite parent, just like every parent has a favorite kid. Sure, if asked you'll say something sweet like “I could never choose. I love them the same”, your parents undoubtedly following along the same lines.
For me, my favorite was my mother. Mom stood at about 5'4, a small little thing that managed to influence just about every part of my life. I didn't go anywhere without her, I asked her opinion on everything, heck, I usually won't go out to dinner with my dad and brother unless my mom comes along.
It's kind of sad, actually. That kind of dependence could be looked at as wrong. It'd entice comments like "What are you going to do when college comes around? When you have to be alone? Huh?"
I really couldn't say i cared. I wasn't totally reliant. I functioned pretty well on my own actually. I saw it as a complete matter of preference to b so close to my mom. I saw girls my age getting into fights with their mother everyday, filling their homes with tears and shouts. Or worse, utter silence, as they both ignore each, tension between them so thick you could suffocate. The silence just grows and grows, and it becomes more like two strangers in one house than a mother and daughter. Worse and worse it gets, until the pot boils over and then...
Your not really family members anymore. Just two strangers in one house.
Compared to them, I considered my relationship perfectly right.
But of course, then there leaves my father.
Make no mistake, I love my father. And our relationship isn't that bad, no where near my mother and I's, but no yelling or screaming either. It was just sort of... there.
My father was a Master Sergeant in the U.S Army, as well as a police officer in the NYPD, numerous titles that are supposed to fill me with pride and admiration towards my father. It was supposed to make me appreciate the time I had with him, turn me into a Daddy's Girl whenever he came by, squealing towards him, hugging him, showing him the purest form of love I could. At least, the same amount of affection I did my mom.
Yet, the only thing those titles told me was that my dad was too busy to get off of work until 12 in the morning. That every time I wanted to ask my daddy a question, it would have to be put on hold until there was time. Time that he never seemed to come by.
It's hard o become a Daddy's Girl when daddy's never around.
So when my dad was scheduled to Kuwait for a year, I didn't bat an eyelash.
The day before, the front hall was filled with brown and green army bags who's camouflage coloring did nothing to hide their overwhelming presence in the house. I had to weave through the bags to get around, while Dad frantically ran from his room to the hall, running over all the things he would need to bring.
“ Helmet, pants, gas mask...what else do I need” he'd mutter, eyes checking the bags he'd checked tons of times before over again. He spared no glance towards me, struggling not to fall as I hopscotched through the bags to reach my room.
“Dad, “ I called out. He kept his eyes from the papers he was sorting through, sparing me no time. "Yeah”, he said, eyebrows furrowing as he looked over his passport. I asked what time he was leaving.
He lifted his eyes for a second.
Then his eyes went down again, the shuffling of the papers the only sound to fill the suffocating atmosphere of the room.
That was supposed to be our loving goodbye.
At the moment it was 6 in the morning, the sun a sight of beauty after the long night of rain. Rays of light filled the room with a golden glow, a picturesque fine spring morning filling my window. It would've been a gorgeous sight to behold, a rare sight in the overall gloomy spring we had been having that year.
Would've been, that is, if I hadn't been tossing and turning for about 6 hours.
Frankly, I have trouble sleeping any night. But that night especially, the Sandman seemed to have a major problem with me. Maybe sand up his shorts, I don't know, but he was a major brat that night. I closed my eyes, listened to lullabies, counted every fricken' sheep to ever jump across a stupid fence, but I honestly just couldn't fall asleep.
In the middle of watching Ariel chase Flounder through seaweed in a The Little Mermaid rerun, I heard stirring from downstairs, then the sounds of a voice on the phone.
I turned off my TV, listening carefully.
“Are you coming...?, ” a voice whispered. More scuffling sounds came, along with some grumbles as I heard the luggage being moved about. “ I need a ride to the airport...Yeah, I need it now! Look, just pick me up at 7, okay? I have to go now...my kids are asleep, man, I gotta go...Yeah, bye.”
A click, then the shuffling resumed and for awhile, that was it.
Then the footsteps came towards the stairs.
I ducked under my cover, quickly shutting my eyes and pretending to sleep as I hear the sound of my door opening. My dad shuffled towards me, careful to stay quiet. I took deep breaths as he came forward, pretending I’d been asleep all the hours I was watching Disney reruns.
Then Dad bumped into a lamp and the whole effect was ruined.
I held in a snort. Mr. Master Sergeant sure was a dork.
I gave a fake groan and rustled out of bed, pretending to awaken from a deep sleep.
I yawned and rubbed at my eyes, looking blearily at the uniformed figure in the dark while inwardly congratulating myself. Maybe I have a future in this whole acting business.
“Dad?” I said.
He gave a sigh, crossing the distance between him and my bed.
“Sorry,” he whispered. "I just came to say goodbye.”
I stopped rubbing my eyes and looked at the clock in surprise.
“Go back to sleep, okay” he said, running a hand through my hair.
I said okay quietly, still keeping up the appearance of being half asleep. He gave me a tired look, his yellowed eyes suddenly more prominent than ever.
He had a little smile on as he whispered to me.
Then he left.
During the time he was gone we talked over video chat, over e-mails and phone calls, I even sent him stories I wrote, just to get his opinion on it. Really, I think I spoke to him more when he was gone then when he was at home.
I honestly felt a bit bad while he was away. When your dad goes overseas, you're supposed to cry,right? Your supposed to look forward to his calls all day and dream about seeing him at night. Then when he comes back, you're supposed to jump in his arms and cry and say I love you in an incredibly heartwarming,blockbuster worthy scene.
When he came back, we exchanged a quick hug.
That was it.
For the most part, that sounds rather sad, like there was no love between us, like all my love towards my mom left none towards my dad. It makes me sound ungrateful.
That's as wrong as can be.
My dad was never my favorite, something that will probably never change. But it can't be said that I don't love my father. I didn't hug him all the time, squeal in his ear and tell him I love him every day. That’s just not me. And really, that's not him either.
I never doubted that there was love between us though. It was in the small, everyday things. Like how his computer password was my name( even if I wasn't supposed to know that). Or that he called me his princess , even when I yelled at him to stop coming into my room. Or that he was the only one I ever let read my stories, the first person I went to for help in school.
Then maybe the fact all he said was say goodbye and that's all I needed to fall asleep that day.
It wasn't anything gaudy, our relationship. It was built on the little things.