Natali and the Girl are like sisters. They have fun like sisters and fight like sisters. Of course, the Girl has the role of (much) older sister but they are far from a mother-daughter relationship.
Lately, there have been a number of situations where my parenting-skills have been put to the test.
Daughter and I have always been very close. We share a sense of humor that we have perfected over the years to the point of everything being an inside joke between us. The Girl is sometimes annoyed with this, but she has gotten in on the joke for most part by now. But, lately, Natali has had issues in her life much beyond my control.
Issue 1: Simon. She has had multiple little crushes on boys. Off the top of my head, I can think of a Nolan (I always insisted on calling him Gnolan, and this is how we remember him) and a Christopher. Simon is her first Danish crush and she asked my advice on how to go about asking him to be her boyfriend. I didn't know what to tell her; when I was 8, I don't think I was interested in being someone's boyfriend. I expected him to say no, so I wanted the letdown to be as easy as possible. She ended up contacting him through the schools student intranet with this message:
Hi Simon. I like you. Skal vi være kærester? ("shall we be dearest?", ie. do you want to be my boyfriend). Twelve hours later, he responded "no thanks". Natali took it well, despite the fact that all the girls and boys in her class knew that she had been rejected.
So then the other day, I came to pick her up at her after school day care. She was playing foosball with Simon (I later realized it was Simon, but I didn't know it until halfway through our game). I challenged them to a 2-on-1 and crushed them. In the car on the way home, she told me "dad, that was really cool. How you didn't say anything to him about that". Ha! The little idiot thought I would start asking Simon why he didn't want to go out with her.
Issue 2: Friends. I never took a class on being the father of a tween, so there are things I just don't know how to do. The Girl and I have planned Natali's 9th birthday party. It will consist of birthday cake and a treasure hunt followed by a trip to the public pool. We scheduled it for next Friday. All was fine; the invitations were printed out and passed out in school. The next day, Natali told me sheepishly and close to tears, that she was afraid no one would come. Why? Because we had chosen the same day as the school's fastelavn party, a type of Danish Halloween. So we had to move the party back one day. I'm sure that has never happened to another kid in her class. But how do parents know these things?
Issue 3: Anew step-dad? My Ex-wife is now dating a guy. The rare longtime follower of this blog will know that this brings an extra y chromosome into the mix. Natali has never seen him and she knows almost nothing about him (as is the case for me). Yet, he is in her mom's and brother's life and I know she thinks about that more than she lets on. Last weekend, she asked my Ex-wife on Skype whether the guy had moved into the house yet. We are going back for two weeks over Easter, so it will be interesting to see how she reacts to everything.
Issue 4: Our apartment. We live in a cheap apartment, which is subsidized through the hospital. I love it. There is nothing to worry about; the rent is less than half of market value. But Natali doesn't like living in an apartment. Her school is in an affluent neighborhood; she is the only girl, who lives in an apartment. Her best friend lives in a big house right by the school. We live a mile away and Natali has to walk all the way across the hospital grounds to get home after school. A lot of the girls live close to each other and visit each other constantly. Natali's biggest wish is to move in on Ahornvej (Maple Lane?), where her friend lives. It's part of a wish to settle down and go to the same school with the same kids, instead of constantly moving from country to country. It's something I can't give her; we have so many forces in our lives pulling us in different directions and Ahornvej will have to wait. At least for now.