There is a transition process, when a stranger steps into the role of “father”, which goes from being “that guy who we see sometimes” to “that guy who we see a lot” to “daddy” to “father”.
That Guy Who We See Sometimes – this can be anyone, a casual friend, the guy who works in the chippy, a neighbour. It’s someone the child recognises and will smile at or chat to without shyness, but has no real interest or investment in.
That Guy Who We See A Lot – this would generally be family, uncles and grandparents, and close friends. Men the child loves and is excited to see, often asks for, but doesn’t mourn the absence of. Them being there is a bonus and a joy, but not being there isn’t distressing.
Daddy – this is a big leap to reach, but does happen. Daddy is the guy who they mourn the absence of, ask for, love. The guy who tells them off and comforts them when they’re sad. Daddy can look after you when Mummy isn’t around and Daddy is trusted. To become Daddy to a child is a level of investment and trust in someone who was a stranger in their lives which not many men can achieve.
Father – however much Daddy is an achievement, Father is something further. A Father is a level of authority, comfort, importance and trust equal to Mother. A Father is important on the biological level, and for a stranger to become a Father in a child’s life is something else. Something new. You might take on the role of “Father” in a family, but for a child to accept you on that level is no guarantee. It’s not even essential, because Daddy is so very, very important.
Miss Rose is currently testing The Boy. She is testing him to see if he really is up to the challenge of being her father.
He has been Daddy for some time now, but we have noticed a couple of changes recently.
On Sunday we were assembling the children’s beds. The Boy and I were in a different room to Miss Rose and suddenly a little voice rang out, “Daddy! I spitting!” followed by the sound of very wet raspberries being blown. When that got no reaction, it was “Daddy! I eating books!”
Both The Boy and I have been trying to stop both of these behaviours, Z and Miss Rose spitting at each other to the point of soaking one another is gross, and Miss Rose’s bizarre insistence on gnawing on her cardboard books is pretty gross. We both shout at her for them, we both try and stop her. Yet it was Daddy she called for. Daddy she challenged to come and deal with the problem. We realised that she has been doing it more and more, waiting until I step out of the room before playing up.
Then, last night, she was almost asleep whilst I was reading to her and woke herself up having a coughing fit. When she tried to lie back down again she bumped her head on the wall, not very hard, but hard enough. When I tried to comfort her she pushed me away and wept “I WANT MY DADDY!” Once The Boy appeared in the room, she patted the bed beside her and he sat with her and soothed her, then she calmed down and was ready to go back to sleep.
She has, effectively, laid down the gauntlet. Subconsciously she is saying, “Think you’re up to the challenge? Prove it”
Her bio-dad leaving broke her tiny baby heart. For a long time she was a real mess. She cried, she acted violently, and she had panic attacks. It would appear those scars, though buried deep in her subconscious, as still living on. She is testing The Boy. “Love me when I’m cute? Then let’s see if you love me when I’m naughty, love me when I’m sad. Father me. Step up, take the challenge, and deal with me like you’re my father.”
So far it would appear he is rising to her challenge and proving himself. No evidence of this is so clear than when exploring a theme park together, and Miss Rose is riding in the arms of her beloved nanny who she will prioritise time with over all others, myself included, than watching her lean away from nanny to be in the arms of daddy.
I cannot say for sure that The Boy will prove his worth to her, and make fully that transition from the Daddy he is so good at to the Father she so wants… but he’s determined to and she wants him to, so I would say it’s a good bet to place.
You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.
Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!