It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too.
As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours.
I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself.
After an entire afternoon filled with errands my feet were almost literally smoking from all the running around I had been doing, now I needed to sit down for a moment, to rest up, but also to enjoy a little more time without the kids, to be honest. I knew them in the best hands with their father, so I wasn’t in too much of a hurry.
When I spotted a little café it made me smile with anticipation of a steaming, delicious cappuccino enjoyed in complete and utter peace. Heaven!
I went in and ordered, my eyes glowing for excitement for the treat of coffee, rest and quiet when I noticed a familiar man near me who was looking at me. My heartrate accelerated for happy excitement.
While he was a vampire, I knew that unlike most others of his kind, he was powerful enough to be able to withstand some sunlight and social as he was he often preferred the lively daylight hours and the hustle and bustle of mortals going about their lives. It always seemed that if given the choice, he would choose mortality over eternal life without thinking twice.
I looked at him too, our eyes met, we both smiled briefly, then his smile faded and he attempted to leave.
Quickly I side-stepped closer to him, held on to his jacket sleeve, he froze as if completely paralyzed by my touch.
“I should leave.” he said with a quiet and slightly hoarse tone.
“Don’t be silly. Join me. We need to talk anyway. Please.”
He was weighing it off, visibly, when he finally nodded I was relieved this wasn’t going to be a fight to keep him from leaving.
We found a table and started with a little small talk until I said
“Caleb, we need to settle this. Brendan misses you, Blaine is miserable without his best friend and I hate this distance between all of us. You are practically part of our family, and you are sorely missed.”
He let out a heart wrenching sigh.
“I want to, but I can’t. I promised Blaine to stay away. It was his request. I have to honor it.”
“Blaine is stubborn, but he knows this was a one time slip up. Come home with me and we all will talk, Blaine’s watching the kids.”
“No. Wouldn’t be fair to impose on him like that. If you want to talk to him, and he agrees, we can meet. But I won’t force myself on him and put him on the spot.”
Well, if being with Blaine for so long had taught me anything, it was how to be persistent. I got Caleb to come home with me, once Blaine got the initial drama out of his system, we all sat at the table together over – you guessed it – more coffee.
At some point I had to pluck my son Brendan off Caleb, literally, as he did not want to let go of ‘uncwle Caweb!’ at all until we promised he would come for visits more often again. I went to tuck Brendan in for his nap, taking my sweet time to give the men plenty of uninterrupted time to talk.
“I really am very sorry for what happened, Blaine. You did not deserve this from a friend.”
“True dat, brother, but like I told you before, I get it. Vik and I had many talks and I am almost over it now. She wouldn’t do anything like that to me unless shit really hit the fan and from her perspective, it had. I get it, all that crap that comes with my career is rough on her, it was my dream and she has been nothing but supportive, so I decided to get over it. Besides, I still got problems keeping my hands to myself and pants on around her, sometimes I think my full name is ‘Blaine, not now!’, so how can I blame any other straight man, right? Joking aside, my girl gave me so many second chances, without those I do not know where I would be now. She thinks you need one too, so I’ll listen to my wife.”
“There is something else, Blaine, something I haven’t told you. Several things actually. First, Cassandra left me. It’s final, mutually so. We weren’t the match I had hoped. She deserves better.”
“Sorry to hear, but no real shocker there. After your performance that night, no wife in her right mind would’ve stayed for second helpings of that.”
“Agreed. When the transgression happened, I had only just learned some difficult news. I am a father, Blaine, to a little girl about 2 years old by now, I think, product of a night of carelessness and lust. Her mother despises me and because of my dismal behavior back then – and because of who and what I am – I will never know my daughter, nor she me. This added to me being weak when Viktoria was so sad. I probably needed affection as much as her and we found solace briefly with each other.”
“Yeah, let’s not delve into those details again, still not crazy about living that out with you. No chance talking sense into the mother of your child?”
“No. She abhors me because I treated her badly back then. She is married to another man now, who she claims to be the father of the child, he is none the wiser, I believe.”
“Won’t he start wondering once the kid starts sucking blood and shit?”
“The baby is a mortal. A 50% chance if the parents aren’t both vampire. I wished it were otherwise, as I would probably have the child to raise then.”
“Dude, that’s just wrong. Wait just a hot minute! Hang on. You didn’t by any chance screw Jo’s old lady and leave her with a gift that keeps on giving, huh?!”
“I don’t know any Joes.”
“Oh my God, must be! He has been in my ear over and over that the child cannot be his, he sent for, I think, three DNA tests by now and all came back inconclusive. He has dark green eyes, Holly has brown eyes, and that little girl of theirs looks nothing like them and has very light silvery gray eyes, exactly like yours. Even I know that those genetics oopsies just don’t happen. Come to think of it, that little girl looks exactly like a mini-you, dude!”
“Holly, huh? Yes, my fling’s name was indeed Holly. I have been sending her child support checks ever since she told me. Yet, she denies me any contact.”
“Fucking hell! Okay, so here is what we do. Jo is about to boil over anyway. He doesn’t buy her story anymore. He’s my friend too and I don’t believe in standing by silently while his wife slips him a milkman’s child while bleeding you dry with nothing to show for. But why didn’t you come to me sooner, dude?! This must have been killing you. Dayum! Almost understandable you sucked on my wife’s lips to make yourself feel better, that sure rises my sun for me on dreary days. But next time something like this happens, you come to me, and we figure it out, no more nibbling on Vik, copy that?”
To cut through the chase, soon after that talk Blaine and Caleb were thick as thieves again.
Eventually Blaine just dragged Caleb over to Joaquin’s house where he poured a hefty helping of the truth for poor Jo to swallow. It was undeniable once you had the missing pieces, the toddler truly was the spitting image of Caleb and after some back and forth he ended up with a fair frequency of scheduled dates to spend time with his daughter, mostly on Joaquin’s insistence, who now used Holly’s lie of making him the official father and therewith 50% in charge of the child to right the wrong for Caleb, despite of Holly’s continuing sourness towards him. Jo and Holly’s marriage was rocky for a while, but they managed to work it out.
Caleb was over the moon, he adored that little girl named Cara and the feeling quickly became mutual.
Our Brendan loved playing with his new friend, as frequently now Joaquin and Holly would use our home as a drop off location for days Caleb got to spend quality time with his daughter, since we lived pretty much in the middle. Sometimes he would bring his nephew Riordan along, much to Anastasia’s content.
Ah, I am such a sucker for happy endings, aren’t we all?
Sadly for me, this feeling of elation about one heartbreak averted only lasted a little while until the next storm darkened my skies.
Enter Anastasia, our whirlwind of a daughter and for some reason my greatest love and greatest adversary at the same time. Oh yeah, she still butted heads with me wherever she could, frustrating me to no end.
Much to Blaine’s amusement had I bought her a journal to help process her emotions, and he had to eat crow when she actually loved it for once, instead of totally rejecting it like most of my ideas. She started using it right away, but that was the last time I ever saw the journal. She guarded it with great care.
For a while her grades were mediocre, finally I managed to find a way to get Blaine involved with me to help her study. It was exhausting, but her grades finally went up.
She had a lot of friends and getting her to focus on anything other than what she wanted to do at any given moment was hard work.
Most of Ana’s little friends were boys and wealthy. Blaine had lots of jokes about that, I – of course – worried.
What would happen if they were still all around when they all became teens … and older … started dating?
Yes, I know she was only 7 now, but time seemed to have flown by so far, what were 7 or 8 more years in the grand scheme of things?
Speaking of the little devil, there I was, in the kitchen cooking dinner for my seemingly ever-hungry little family, when in came Anastasia.
“Mom, I need money.” her tone was demanding, not sweet. Most kids were little angels when they wanted something, she didn’t even bother.
“For what, honey?” I asked with forced, stoic patience.
“Well … stuff.” she informed me.
“What kind of stuff?”
“Ugh, forget it, I’ll ask daddy.” her tone was annoyed, she turned to leave.
“No no no, hang on there, Ana. What do you want money for?”
“You wouldn’t understand, because you are old.”
“Thanks, charming, sweet child o’mine, unfortunately for you, daddy is actually older than me. So try again.” my tone was already a lot less patient now.
“Daddy knows stuff though, he’s really cool and he gets stuff. All you do is cook, clean and order the rest of us around.”
“Oh, lovely. Thanks.” I grumbled as she had already started to walk off.
“Ana! Anastasia! Come back here!” I yelled after her, but she was tuning me out and I couldn’t leave the food.
So that’s what I worked so hard in college for, to get a Business degree with honors, to end up being a stay-at-home mom and so my own daughter would see me as nothing but the uncool, brain-amputated, cheap help. The monkey with a soup ladle in one hand and a toilet brush in the other, both of which I -according to my daughter – also used to whip my family in shape with. Just splendid, that notion!
Not long after she vanished, Blaine appeared, grabbed me right out of the middle of my food prep and kissed me.
“Hey, did our daughter by any chance try to hit you up for money?” I asked him once I had command of my lips again.
“Yup.” he confirmed as he kissed me again.
“Did you give it to her?” I asked suspiciously once he came up for air, hoping Blaine hadn’t just rolled over and made it rain on Anya, rewarding her insolence.
“Heck no!” he grinned as he let go of me.
“Oh good! Strange, I didn’t hear any meltdowns.”
“Nah, she was cool with it. Told her no problem, but if she wanted cash beyond her allowance, she’d have to take on more chores, and complete all those to our satisfaction before I bestow those riches upon her, so my no ended up being the preferred way to go for her.”
“Good solution. Do you know what it was supposed to be for? The money? She wouldn’t tell me for nothing.” I asked.
“Yeah, something Droidcripple or something like that.”
“Oh, voidcritter cards. That makes sense!” a little lightbulb when up.
“It does? Not to me it don’t, but I am just the village idiot.”
“It’s a videogame, Blaine. You buy expansion cards, train the little creatures and then battle them against your friends.”
“Hmm. When we were kids we did that with fists. For free.”
“Blaine, I rather our children battle on computers and game consoles, not come home with bloody noses.”
“Ours wouldn’t. Whomever they were battling would. Daddy would make sure I taught our kids right.” with his signature crooked smirk he winked at me.
“Great parenting, Blaine.” I smiled, knowing he was teasing me.
“That’s why I got you. To keep me from doing too many Blaine-like things. We both know how it usually goes when I am left to my own devices. Never pretty.”
Anastasia’s behavior wasn’t an isolated instance. She was always, ALWAYS resistant with me, rebellious, while daddy’s word was usually law, with few exceptions. Brendan on the other hand naturally seemed to prefer me for some reason. Blaine didn’t seem to care much, he was happy as a pug in a rug.
And here we were again, same shit, different day.
“Anya, did you do your homework yet?” I asked from the kitchen sink, doing the lunch dishes. My God, my daughter did have a point. All she ever saw me do was cook, clean and nag.
“Then please do it now.” I pointed towards the dining room.
“I have to go to the bathroom.”
“Fine, then go, but after you’re done, homework!” I said, even though I was sure she was deflecting and didn’t even have to go.
I waited for her to return, in vain, then went looking for her and found her in her room, peacefully playing with her dolls, not a care in the world. I was instantly fuming.
ARGH!!!! Was this child friggin’ kidding me?!
Trying to get her to do the damn homework ended in another Ana-meltdown, a Mexican standoff in her room, bringing Blaine on the menu.
“Ladies, my nerves! MERCY on me! What the heck is going on here? In case you both forgot, I am recording music just a wall away and high pitched yelling and screaming in the background won’t get anything sold!” he moaned.
“Your daughter refuses to do her homework!” I told him.
“I don’t want to right now! I said I’d do it later!” Ana whined.
“Anya, are you new? Homework always gets done first, then you can play. Later we’ll have dinner, then your cartoons are on, after that is bedtime, so no Anya, NOW!” I told her, my voice final.
“I don’t WANT to! Daddy, do something!” she whined even more annoying than before.
“You’ll get the same tune from me, sweet pea. Your mom’s right. First schoolwork, then play. Has never been different, won’t ever change. Final answer. So get! And quietly if you please!” Blaine told her firmly.
“I don’t want too … daddyyyyy pleeeease …” she whined even more.
“Anya, get to it now! I have to finish the recording, it needs to be submitted tomorrow and I need to have time to edit. Get into the dining room and onto your butt or I will spank it so hard that you have to do the homework standing up for days! And if I have to glue you to the frigging books and pens you are doing it NOW!”
“But …” Wide-eyed Ana stared at her daddy, then realized she wasn’t going to win this fight, so she stomped off towards the dining room, pouting.
“But, but, but. The only but(t) that’s relevant here is the one you sit on, which will be glowing red if we get any more grief from you.” Blaine called after her. They were empty threats, neither of us would raise a hand to either of our children, no matter how much they may test us, but they didn’t know that, so it was fair game.
“Thanks, baby.” I told him when Anastasia was out of hearing distance.
“What a brat! Wonder where she gets all that attitude from. You sure I am the daddy of that lil monster? She’s nothing like my sunny disposition and utterly pleasant ways.” Blaine said, hiding a grin.
“Sunny disposition and pleasant ways, my ass. Whom are you trying to fool, man, I have known all facets and angles of you since we were her age. She is ALL YOU! 100% carbon copy in looks and ways! I am dealing with another obnoxious Blaine all over again. Heaven help me.”
“Fair point. I was a bit of a monster-child, wasn’t I? Should we see if we can return her to the hospital for a refund before she reaches my terror-teen stage? Not sure I can handle that.”
“Don’t tempt me. Go finish your music, I’ll handle our sweet angel from hell. Nothing I haven’t done before, although you actually liked me and obeyed a lot better than this new version of you.”