I try to be a good dad. I think I’m pretty successful. I hope I am.
I try to treat all of my kids fairly and make them each feel precious and special to me for who they are, not for who I want them to be. I also try not to play favorites or single any of them out for extra attention.
But I won’t lie and say that a little bit of me didn’t relish spending alone time with my son, Ronald. Fishing with him reminded me of fishing with my dad. I miss my dad every day, and these times with Ronald make it almost like Dad’s with me.
I enjoyed fishing with the twins, too. They were pleasant company, but they chattered a lot while we were out. Samantha has a great sense of humor and is always cracking jokes. Unfortunately, we are a little loud and don’t catch as many fish.
Kindra, on the other hand, I have trouble communicating with. She’s started asking to use Dilly’s computer to work on the special “unsolvable” math problems her teacher gives her for extra credit. However, I caught her using the computer for other things like video games. Of course I have forbidden video games in our house, so this meant I had to discipline her.
“Kindra Fields! Turn off that game this instant!”
“But Dad!” she tried to argue.
“You know the rules in this house. No video games!”
“Everyone else gets to play video games at home.” Kindra stomped her foot in annoyance, “They have TVs and home computers, too! We’re the only family in Twinbrook that doesn’t even have a TV! It’s the 21st century!”
“We’re not ‘everyone else’. In our house we don’t need to waste time with technology. If you want entertainment, go outside or read a book.”
“But Dad! It’s not a waste of time. I’m gaining valuable skills!”
“What skills are you learning driving a computer car all over a computer city?” I don’t understand why people think that computers are such wonderful tools. Chess can be played at a chess table. Playing catch can teach hand-eye coordination. If you want to chat, you can use a phone or go visit someone in person. And what happened to using pen and paper to write things down?
I understand that writing novels like Dilly’s doing requires a word processor. I understand that the math Kindra is doing may need to use advanced calculation. But why should computers replace normal human interactions?
I was firm on our rules in the house. Kindra was forbidden from using the computer for a week. I also cautioned Dilly not to leave the computer unattended.
“The kids are wasting time playing games on it,” I explained to my wife.
“What’s wrong with a little bit of fun, Les?” Dilly asked.
“Fun can be found in other ways, Dilly. You’re a bookworm, surely you don’t think that we should advocate playing a game instead of reading?”
Dilly nodded, but was frowning. “I think kids should read,” she said, “and all of our kids read a lot. But what’s the harm in a game every now and then? I sometimes play games on my computer when I am feeling particularly stressed. It helps.”
“Dilly!” I said, shocked. “What sort of example is that?”
“I’m an adult, Les. I can play a computer game if I want. But, really, I don’t think it’s something we should get upset with the kids about either. As long as they don’t abuse it. This is my work computer.”
Reluctantly, I let Dilly overrule me. The kids could use Dilly’s computer when she wasn’t writing. It was supposed to be for math and other educational purposes, but we wouldn’t forbid them from playing games.
I wouldn’t admit this to Dilly, but she was right about our kids. The older girls hardly touched the computer at all. Mina, a vegetarian like Dilly, decided that she needed to learn how to garden so that she could grow the vegetables she liked to eat. Samantha spent most of her time refining her painting, but she also learned how to garden because she said it was good for the environment to grow your own produce. Sydney continued to help on the farm and with little Melinda, but she was also starting to do more chores. Unfortunately, sometimes she did more harm than good. For example, she put in an unbalanced load of laundry. When she tried to fix it, she fell down and sprained her wrist. I know she only wants to help, but she needs to stick to babysitting and gardening.
With all of the help from the teens, the farm was doing very well. Dilly’s books were also selling fairly well. We finally saved enough money to add a second full bathroom on the third floor across from Mina and Sam’s room. This alleviated some of the strain on the second floor bathroom.
But I needed to get around to upgrading the new shower so that it wasn’t so hard to break. Mina and Sam aren’t as clumsy as Syd, but teenaged girls are hard on showers, I’ve discovered.
Little Melinda never lacked for attention from anyone in the house, myself included. She was a sunny-natured toddler and everyone liked her. Actually, everyone but Kindra liked her. I don’t think Kindra thought much about her except that she occasionally woke Kindra up or her diaper pail made the room smell a little funny.
Most of the toys were in Ronald’s room, so Melinda spent a lot of time in there. She didn’t seem to wake Ronald up as much as she did Kindra, who is a light sleeper.
I won’t go so far as to say that I was trying to get on the good side of my daughter, but it wasn’t hard for her to convince Dilly and me that she should have a special party for her thirteenth birthday. She was such an unhappy little girl; I just wanted to do something nice for her.
We didn’t really have a lot of money to spare, but I used some of it to rent out the Twinbrook pool. We invited quite a few of our children’s friends. I would have thought the pool party would make Kindra happy, but it didn’t seem to.
Everyone else seemed to have a good time, splashing and playing in the water. Dilly and Mina had a splashing contest. Then I issued a challenge to everyone to see who could hold their breath the longest. I think Mina won.
Ronald had invited one of his friends from school, Caleb Pincher, and the two boys spent the whole time laughing and talking. I actually think that Caleb may have been the source of Kindra’s annoyance at the party. Neither boy wanted to play with her. When she’d come near them, they’d run away.
I could see that Kindra was getting quite upset. Her little hands were curling into fists. I motioned to Dilly, who got out of the pool and pulled out her guitar (Dilly had taken up the hobby quite awhile back, but rarely got to play in public.) Dilly’s music got everyone dancing, including Kindra. I think she may have actually been having fun. I was glad. No one should be having a lousy time on their birthday. Dilly’s right. Kids do remember their birthdays. Birthdays are important.
I did notice once Dilly started playing, that not everyone was dancing or swimming in the pool. Sydney was missing. I decided to go looking for her and found her near the entrance to the pool with Calvin Sargeant. They were flirting. And kissing. I was shocked.
“What the heck is going on here!” I shouted, interrupting the pair of them. I over reacted. I know that now, but at the time I was so stunned, that I couldn’t think. A boy was touching one of my little girls on the mouth! He had his hands on her waist. I saw red.
Sydney backed away from Calvin immediately and tried to defend him. “It was me, Dad. I kissed him,” she said, but I didn’t hear her. I focused right on Calvin because I knew that it had to be all his fault.
“That’s my daughter you’re touching! No one is allowed to touch them that way!” I was furious.
Luckily Calvin was much more level-headed than I was. He immediately apologized and managed to calm me down.
“I’m sorry Mr. Fields. I shouldn’t have kissed Sydney here at the party. I should have made my intentions clear to you before I kissed her. I like your daughter, Mr. Fields. I’d like to ask her to go steady, if that’s ok with you.”
I started to shake my head in denial, but he continued on before I could say “No way!”
“Oh, not right now, Mr. Fields. I know that she’s young. So am I. But I was hoping that once we are seniors, I could ask her to go steady. In the meantime, I’m hoping I can still hang out with her. I’ll ask you if I can take her out. Don’t worry, Mr. Fields.”
He continued on assuring me that he would treat Sydney right and I remembered all the things I liked about him. He was a steady boy. He worked for a living. His parents had raised him right. They were in the military and taught him to respect his elders. By the end of his speech, I found myself agreeing that he could see Sydney and take her out occasionally.
“But no kissing. Not here. Not at the party.” I managed to get out lamely once he was done. Then we all returned to the party.
Just in time to see Kindra’s transition into a teen. I was surprised at how much she resembled Dilly now that she was older. The cherry red hair was the primary reason, but even her facial features and skin tone were like Dilly’s.
Once it got dark, the party ended and all of our guests left. That night we splurged and I took the whole family to the Bistro. I had hoped this would please Kindra, who didn’t like it that we were so poor.
But I couldn’t tell if it made her happy. She at with Sydney, who was her closest sibling even though they were not close in age. Sydney had always shared a room with her, though. Also, Syd was easy to get along with. Still, I couldn’t tell if Kindra was pleased with the restaurant food or not.
I just wanted her to be as happy as the other girls always were. But I wasn’t sure if I’d ever get my wish.
It just seemed to me that Kindra wanted different things from her life than I could give her. I wasn’t consciously thinking that I’d want every one of my kids to be farmers, but I suppose I was disappointed that Kindra didn’t want anything to do with the farm. She didn’t understand her heritage or even seem to value it. Where would she be if my parents and there parents hadn’t been famers? Couldn’t she see that you are only as rich as the land around you?