When It's No Longer Cute: Part 1
"You not the boss, your just bossy" her dad would say with a laugh. This would be his response to his daughter when she was 5 years old and standing there with her hands balled into fists at her sides, legs planted together tight and very straight to the ground, her eyes squeezed to mere slits, and her lips pressed tightly together as she threw her tantrum. He would laugh some more and then attend to her to make sure she got what she was wanting. That is unless she had claimed someone had treated her unfairly and in that case he wouldn't laugh. She didn't have to even finish her complaint before he was making a direct line to the accused person to set them straight about being mean to his daughter and he was very adept at verbal assaults. Using the traditional sandbox situation as an example, her father would be described as the type of parent who gets mad at the other kids and their parents when his kid throws sand at them. I never knew I would end up being in the same boat as others who get accused of actions against his daughter.
I had heard stories told by her and her father about some of the things she had said to people that were rude but sooooo cute to be coming out of the mouth of a little girl. I thought it funny too. Different, meaner than I like, but still a bit humorous. I should have seen it would be my turn eventually. I should have paid attention to the signs in the beginning.
When we first got together we were inseperable. His 2 boys and the youngest, a 5 year old girl had only recently gone for the summer to live with their mom who was doing well after graduating from the last stage of her drug treatement. When we went camping I was excited. When I learned his kids were coming too I was a little put off as I was expecting a romantic get away in the wilderness, but I reminded myself it was a package deal, I'll bring my own 11 year old son, and it was my choice to make the effort to make it enjoyable.
I had an opportunity for a romantic moment when the kids were up the bank back at the camp, but still in plain view, playing with older cousins and other family members. I was floating on a very large clear blue air mattress on the water where the lake drastically narrows down to a creek with tall fir trees on each side of the water reaching up to the blue summer sky above.
Suddenly he surfaces to the top of the water and lands on the mattress next to me. We laugh at my startled reaction. He stretches out on his side and turns towards me. He props himself on his elbow so he can look down at me and with his face close to mine and his eyes staring into mine he starts to say something softly to me with a sexy smile. It was one of those exact moments in a romantic situation when for just a breathe of a second it seems like the entire world around you has frozen in time and faded into a quiet background. It was also in this moment that a sudden sound pierced the air and brought all romantic thoughts to a screeching halt as reality jolted us back to the present.
Our eyes landed on the source of sound which was currently making it's way down the bank to stand at the edge of the water and yell... "Daaaaaaddddddd!"
This was followed by a short and clipped "Dad!!!"
Then she shouted in a plainly irritated tone "I'm mad at you!"
I fully expected him to call out to one of the older siblings to keep her occupied for a moment or to call back to her that he would be there in a short minute. In fact one of her aunts had just reached her and was trying to talk her into going back to the rest of group by the tent area. She ignored her aunt and kept her eyes glued on us out on the water together. I was shocked when he looked to me with a sheepish grin on his face and then with a splash he swam back to the shore to go to his daughter.
I stayed out there on the water floating for a couple minutes longer. I was very confused and couldn't make sense of the situation. I couldn't make sense of all the focus being shifted from an intimate moment between a new couple to a child throwing a tantrum. There were no immediate threats to her. She was in a safe environment surrounded by trusted family who were more than willing to supervise younger ones for short periods of time without feeling imposed upon.
This event should have raised a red flag to me of things to come if I continued to pursue this relationship but it didn't for whatever reason. Instead I continued down the rabbit hole.
Continued in Part 2