Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dads Who Fight

I got my oil changed today. For the record, in the almost 2 years I've been married, I believe I've spent more time inside the lobby of a Grease Monkey than in the previous 26 years combined. Needless to say, my better half believes in 'preventative maintenance,' something not a one of my siblings were aware of, I believe, until the year 2009. (My daddy taught us a lotta things right, but this weren't one of 'em)

Anywho, Grease Monkey... home of the 1.2 million dollar oil change which boasts a 'complimentary' tire fill up and crushed-Goldfish-cracker-and-raisin-removal. As I wait for my gleaming sports car to be polished to a high sheen, my little man cruising around a filthy coffee table gnawing at old issues of "Field and Stream" and "Allure" (what kind of place are they RUNNING here?), a friendly Mexican dude strikes up a conversation with me.

"Is he the only one?" pointing towards Joey.

I awkwardly put my hand over my still covert midsection and say something really eloquent like, 'uh, next one is en route.' ( I just don't know how to answer that question gracefully yet!)

"Another boy?" prompted my new friend.

"Uh, well, it's too soon to tell, heh heh, we'll see." (damn I'm awkward)

"Hope it's a boy... girls are muy loco. Impossible with a girl!"

I shook my head emphatically, not because I agreed with him that all females were, indeed, very crazy, but because I myself was once a teenager from hell and, judging from his age and appearance, I had a hunch he was currently in the trenches with a high-school daughter.

"My daughter, she wants to go to the quinceaneras, wear the skinny jeans that come down and show her belly, everything... she tells me all the time 'I hate you,' 'Why can't I do what my friends are doing?' 'What are you doing in my room?' I tell her I'm her father, it's MY room... I'm just lending it to you."

He sat back, looking satisfied, before continuing.

"Last week I told her, ask me again on Saturday night about quinceaneras ... and I'll give you a reason why you can't go."

He went on to explain that she had come to him again that past Saturday evening, begging to be let out with her friends to celebrate this traditional 'rite of passage' with her friends and their families. Telling her to grab her jacket, he led her out to his truck and told her to hop in before driving her out to the abandoned warehouse district where he knew the festivities were being held. As they pulled up they could hear techno music spilling out into the night, and drunk party-goers were stumbling all over the dark parking lot. 

Turning to his daughter, the father asked her what she saw, and she was silent. 

"You see those men?" he asked her, "Those are men 30, 35 years old... they've been drinking, I don't know who they are... Do you know what happens to you if I let you go someplace like this? You get raped. Or worse. And even if I come and find you, it might be too late. Is that what you want?"

He looked pained as he recounted the story, and I have to admit to being simultaneously impressed with his parenting technique and terrified of eventually parenting a daughter, God-willing.

I told him she was lucky, that more girls needed to have dads looking out for him, and he nodded solemnly. 

And then he said the weirdest thing.

Leaning forward, he confided, "I don't want, you know virgins or something, but I want her to be happy, to wait... to find not just a 'nice guy,' not just get pregnant. I tell her 'you come to me when you are ready, I'll get you a Pill, whatever."

Dumbfounded, I collected my thoughts while he got up to pay at the counter. He turned and continued talking to me as the cashier rang him up.

Clearing my throat, I volunteered the information that, you know, those hormonal pills are really bad for young girl's bodies, to which he nodded in agreement.

We barely had time for another couple sentences before he was out the door, but as he left he told me good luck with my little guy, and I told him to keep his little girl safe...and I wondered if I had said enough.

Here was this perfect stranger, pouring his heart out to me about holding his children to a higher standard than the culture around them and protecting them from harm, and then he went and admitted to being willing to enable her physical, psychological and moral decline 'when she was ready'...

How did we get here? How was this man - by all appearances , a real man in a sea of little boys just playing at parental authority - willing to equip his young daughter with the very means by which she could destroy her life?

How deeply ingrained the contraceptive mentality has become in our culture. 30 years ago no father in his right mind would have discussed enabling his adolescent daughter's sexual activity to a perfect stranger in an auto care lobby. But times, they sure are 'a changing. 

And not for the better, in this department.

It's no wonder young people are so confused and so easily led down the primrose path in the sexual sphere - their parents are no more knowledgeable in this area then they themselves are - and how should they be.

We have swallowed a monstrous lie in the form of a little Pill. And even while bemoaning the general state of moral decline in our society, we quietly condone it by handing our children the necessary equipment to screw up their lives and hearts... often losing them in the process.

St. Joseph, patron of fathers, patron of chastity, pray for us.

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