I am reading a book right now called “House Rules.” It is a memoir of a girl named Rachel who had a verbally and mentally abusive father. It is a fascinating book, but so sad. It’s the kind of book that makes me want to do research to find out her fathers name, track down where he lives, and kill him. Rachel got taken away and put into a girls home when she was in high school to give her a break from her home life. When she was put back into her home, one of the conditions was that she and her dad would go to counseling together. They went to counseling alright, and he made her pay for every session. He said that these were her problems and he had nothing to do with it. The book is filled with hundreds more horrible examples of the abuse that this family was put through because of their deadbeat father.
Reading this book makes me think of my own dad. He is the complete opposite of the man described in “House Rules.” I would love to write a memoir someday about him, but nobody likes to read memoirs about normal, happy, healthy families. In her Introduction, Rachel Sontag explained that when she was at a dinner party one time and mentioned that she was writing her first memoir a man asked “who’s the monster, your mom or dad?” She replied “neither, we were a normal family with normal issues.” He asked again and again “who was the monster, mom or dad?” She finally answered “my dad.”
Isaac is going on a business trip tomorrow and I asked him to bring me back a treat from Texas. So many memories came flooding back from when my sisters and I were all little and my dad would go on business trips several times a month. When he would get home we would run right past him and dart into his suitcase. He ALWAYS had treats for us. Sometimes we would act like savages and dig through his suitcase until we found our treats. Other times he would sit all five of us (including mom) down on the couch and give each of us a special present. He knew us, loved us, and gave us special gifts that he took the time to pick out.
Dad taught me about taxes. My sisters and I would do chores around the house and go out to get ice cream with him pretty frequently. White Chocolate Mousse was a staple in our weekly diets, hence the awkward overweight childhood pictures. When we were indulging in our desserts he would reach over, take a heaping spoonful, and devour it. He would ask all four of us girls “Did you work hard for that ice cream?” with confusion we answered “yes.” He responded “Now I am going to take a bite of each of your desserts, that is a tax. Someday you will understand.” Well, its someday! And I understand! And I think his little tax lesson is genius and hysterical.
Dad used to take me to work with him on occasion when he worked in the Pentagon and at Crystal City. He would introduce me to all his co-workers and bring me down to the shop in the Pentagon to get lemon frozen yogurt. I remember walking next to him SO proud as each person we passed by saluted him. Looking back, I can only imagine how busy his days were; he held a senior position in the Future Weapons Department. When I went to work with him, he would talk to me and answer all my silly questions as if I were the most important person at the Pentagon that day. He would take me to the gift shop and buy me t-shirts with sayings like “Somebody at the Pentagon loves me.” At the end of one our daddy-daughter workdays he asked what I thought of his job. I answered “Its fine, you pretty much just play on the computer all day though.”
15 years later I still think about those precious memories with my dad. Now I “play on the computer” all day at work too, and still think the world of my dad.
4 thoughts on “Daddy Issues”
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Oh Courtney, what a beautiful and humbling post — thank you so very much! Two funny follow-on stories to your pentagon visits that you may/may not remember — but I can’t forget because they both featured the restroom. One of the most awkward and difficult things to do as a man with young daughters is how to do the “restroom thing.”
On one of your trips both you and Charlotte were with me and I believe it was a weekend so there were’t many folks around. I needed to use the restroom and so I asked you two to wait outside while I ran in quickly. Well, while inside I started to get somewhat paranoid that you’d either wander off or a guard would find you alone outside the restroom. I quickly finished and ran out the door as quickly as I could to check on you both. Of course you were fine, but I guess I was so fast that you realized I probably wasn’t able to finish all the appropriate steps — in fact, with disgust either you or Charlotte looked at me and said, “Dad, did you wash your hands?”
Next time you needed to use the restroom. May have been the same trip? Anyway, I brought you into the men’s restroom and we had to walk past all the urinals. With great curiosity you said, “daddy, what are those?” I quickly replied, “flower pots.” You nodded as if that made complete sense! 🙂
Cute! I love the tax story. Now if only the world was taxed on White Chocolate Mousse instead of money?!
How remarkable that you REMEMBER so many wonderful stories of your dad, Courtney. You are such a great writer and I really enjoy reading these posts. It brought back so many memories of your Dad at the Pentagon, for the whole family!! Keep them coming. Did you read
“House Rules” by Jodi Picoult? It is about a woman who has two sons and one has Asperger’s. Really great novel, but so different from your writings that are just poignant and truthful.
Beautiful photo of you and your dad in Miami that I actually took!! YAY!