Two of a Kind

April 29, 2012
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One night, I was loitering in the kitchen after dinner. My dad came in and started talking to me. He said, “So, Katia. How much do you weigh?”
I replied, “I don’t know.”
He continued, “About 80?”
I mumbled, “Sure”, knowing that I weigh more, and not sure how to stop the conversation. Speeding bullets aren’t stopped easily.
He declared, “Well, you should weigh yourself sometime. There’s a scale in our bathroom.”
I did not know how to respond. I already knew that, and the air was filling with tension.
I quickly answered, “Okay”, wishing that some catastrophe involving my younger brother would happen so this would stop.
He stopped with the weight topic, but still continued with his questioning.
He inquires, “So, who are your friends these days? Who did you sit with at lunch today?”
Really, Dad? Why do you have to probe the most sensitive topics?
I, running out of the kitchen and to the safe haven of my bedroom, replied flatly, “Megan Rose. Claudia. Zoe.” I’m not sure if they were at school that day or not, and I don’t know them well, but it seemed to do the trick for now.

I have always been pretty slender, but with my dad proposing questions about my weight, I felt ashamed and worried. I have never had body issues. I told my mom, and she was worried about the impact that his comments may have on my self-esteem. My friends gave me good advice on how to deal with it,which helped, but I've been a bit wary ever since.

I've always felt sort of parallel to my dad. We have the same sort of body type, and we’re both mostly good at science and math. If my sister or my brother has a medical situation, or another type of emergency, we are often left together, quietly not knowing how to fill the void that is so often occupied by my mother and siblings. Sometimes we go unnoticed, and aren’t the life of the party. We’re quiet and focused, and sometimes have short temper fuses (okay, maybe a lot of the time). Once, when my dad was wearing some costume involving dreadlocks (I think it was Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean), my fourth grade teacher told him that she thought he was me.

We aren't very emotional, at least not as much as the rest of our family, and we both are introverted. Often on the weekends, I’ll wake up and he will come back from a bike ride, and he will make fish or an Indian dish for us, and we’ll eat a meal together, quietly reading the paper. Although he isn’t quite as actively involved in our parenting as my mother is, he has still impacted me.

One Saturday morning, he came into my room, talking on the phone. He handed me a note that he had written. It said, “Hi Katia, I was wondering if you’d want to go out to lunch, just the two of us, this afternoon. Dad.” I thought it was sweet that he had put the effort into hand-writing a note for me, and I didn't spend much one-on-one time with him. I accepted, and then I got ready, putting on presentable clothes. We decided to go to this hole-in-the-wall brunch restaurant, decorated with crayon-scribbled artwork and accented with hash browns. Once we got there, it took us a while to get seated.
Once we had ordered, he started talking to me.

He told me, “You know, Katia, we are very similar, and sometimes we get caught up in success. I am sometimes too focused on what I want to do, and that I’ve learned that we should enjoy life, as well as concentrating on schoolwork. It might be fun to hang out with your friends sometime. What’s Marin been doing?”

I responded, “All right. I don’t know what she’s been doing. I haven’t seen her in a while.”

He then continued, “I know that sometimes it feels like your mom and I don’t pay very much attention to you, as your sister has medical issues and your brother just needs more attention—it’s just the way he is. But that doesn’t mean we don’t love you equally. Sometimes it feels like you get forgotten, and I’d like to hear about your experiences sometime. It doesn’t matter when; it could be now, or it could be when you’re sixteen.”

I was really touched, but in behavior typical of us, I didn’t show it. Our food came, and then we ate, a bit of small talk lingering by our plates. After we finished the brunch, we went home, listening to his music (80’s, or something like that), and the barrier between us was a little less, for the time being.





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