My three girls are adopted. They are now 11 (the twins), and a brand new 10. When they came to live with me, they were 2 1/2 and 4 respectively.
The awesome responsibility of raising three girls first reared its head a couple months after they came to live with me and my ex-wife. The “younger” twin came up to me and said, “We’re going to be here a while, aren’t we?”
I nodded my head, bracing for another “when can we go home” conversation, but things took a different tact.
“Ok,” she said. “I need you to promise to teach me three things. How to ride a bike. How to drive a car (how long are you planning to be here, I thought). And how to not be scared of bugs.”
She can ride a bike, as well as skates, in-line skates, scooters, and skateboards. Of course at 11, the car is going to have to wait and we still have some work to do with the bug thing.
When I was a kid, my life was G.I. Joe, Thundercats, and the Justice League. Suddenly, it was Dora the Explorer, Sophia the First, and other similar shows.
Many years ago, I learned to sew. Those skills have been useful, but of course, my sewing is mostly skirts and dolls’ dresses.
These are girls. I’m sitting on the floor and they come in. Some ten minutes later, my hair is full of hair clips, bows, and ties. My toes “get did” regularly, even today, and with the most lovely of colors.
There are things I struggle with. Dresses. Dolls. Matching clothes. But they seem to be doing OK on these fronts with their mother and they are teaching me about matching.
Make-up? WTF! What do I know about make up? Not a thing in the world.
So what’s my job?
I was asked at one point by either Child Services or perhaps the adoption agency, I can’t remember who, if I considered myself a friend to the girls. I thought for minute, but I recall (mostly) my answer.
My job is to teach them. Teach them to love the Lord. Teach them to love learning. To be brave. Strong. Resilient. To overcome adversity. To be kind. To respect themselves and others. To shut down those who don’t respect them or treat them right. To show them how a man treats a woman.
Is that a friend?
I’ve defended them. Fought for them. And even written letters to CEOs to complain for them.
My daughters and I talk a lot lately about boys. Appropriate behaviors. And about friends. How to balance having many friends who run in different groups without neglecting one friend in favor of another.
Periods? Its coming. Recently, my oldest twin was cramping. I asked if she thought she was starting her first period. It was casual, not much different than my asking if she wanted a glass of water.
That’s important. Dads cannot ignore the transition of girl to woman, hoping mom takes care of everything. Dads, your influence here is critical, regardless of what society thinks.
One day, the younger twin walks through the living room.
“I’m sorry,” she said out of the blue.
“What are you apologizing for?” I asked as I lay on the couch.
“You’ll know in a second.”
Then the smell hit. Hard.
The 13-year-old up the street was picking on the youngest daughter, and one of the twins took him down. Hard.
They skateboard. Climb. Chase lizards. And tell fart jokes.
I’ve stood accused a couple of times of raising boys. I don’t know. I don’t look at it like I’m raising girls or boys.
I’m raising three people. They are great and becoming strong and independent. I hope they maneuver from awesome kids to awesome adults.
I’m definitely trying to do my part.