Today is Father’s Day. I’m pretty sure that there will be 10,258,265 blogs today that at least mention Father’s Day. I’m also pretty sure that about 1 out of 3 families who have a living father will have a picnic or some other get together to celebrate Father’s Day. I will be among the 33% of families who will celebrate with a picnic.
Today, as I was preparing food for the picnic my mind drifted back in time to when my daughters were 6 and 3. I was sitting on a park bench at the softball fields watching my oldest daughter practice and my youngest daughter play with the other children in the dirt pile. Halfway through the softball practice my husband arrives at the park and immediately my youngest daughter runs up to him gleefully calling, “Daddy, Daddy.” In my mind’s eye he picked her up and twirled her around, but in reality I think he just picked her up to kiss her.
Shortly after my husband’s arrival my oldest daughter runs in from the field to the park bench where I was sitting. Nearly in tears she blurts out that the girl she was standing next to in the field told her that her sister and her could not have the same daddy and that one of them had a different dad. My eldest daughter’s dark brown eyes were as big as saucers as she demanded to know, “Whose daddy is he?”
Since I really didn’t have a clue what the two children talked about in the field I was more than a little confused. My oldest daughter’s heart was breaking before my eyes before I realized that she thought the man who she had called “daddy” over the last six years might not be her father. After understanding her fear, I reassured her that the person she knew as “daddy” was indeed her father. Slowly I saw the heartbreak leave her eyes and for a moment the air was light again. Her head tilted to one side letting me know the wheels of her mind were spinning. “Then who is my sister’s daddy?” Once again I was lost. What the heck was she talking about? I could feel the tension mounting in her body once again as she wondered about her little sister’s paternity.
Not having a clue what craziness had entered my daughter’s little head, I clasped her hand in mine and we went for a little walk to the end of the softball field so we could be alone. We sat on the grass and I asked her to explain what in the world she was talking about. There, at the edge of the softball field she explained to me that the little girl in the field had 6 brothers and sisters and they all had different dads. The little girl explained to my daughter that kids could have the same mommy but they couldn’t have the same daddy.
I sat for a brief moment not knowing what to say. My daughter’s eyes were burrowing into mine waiting for a reply. All I could do was hug her and re-assure her that her and her sister did share the same father. Briefly, in a fleeting manor, I also explained that some children can have different fathers and different mothers but that didn’t mean that the person who lived with them didn’t love them just the same.
I suppose she was happy with my answer because she smiled as she got up from the ground to join her friends at practice. I watched as she ran to meet up with her friends. My eyes first focused on my daughter and then on the little girl who told my daughter “her” facts of life.
I think of that little girl often. I wonder how her life is and has been. I also wonder why I thought of her today on Father’s Day.