Hey, remember when Beanie Babies were popular? I’m not talking about popular as in they were cute and kids liked them (I guess they still do), I’m talking about the time when some of the toys, in good condition and tags still attached, could auction off for a couple hundred dollars. I remember that pretty well, because my kids were huge BB fans at that time. They used their chore-money to buy them in the years before the prices blew out the sky, and got a lot as gifts. I knew exactly which ones they wanted next when a birthday or holiday came around.
My girls kept the tags on because they didn’t want the little animals to suffer by having them cut off. They came up with their own names for the stuffed animals and made up stories about their lives before we adopted them into our little family. Jenn had so many, and couldn’t bear to leave out any of them when she went to bed, that she would often pile them all on the bed and sleep on the floor. She didn’t want any of them to feel unloved.
They took the Beanie Babies everywhere, even stuffing them all in a duffel bag when they went for a weekend visit to their dad’s mother’s house. Then one day, they forgot to bring them home.
They couldn’t sleep that night. While they cried in the background, I begged Ray to drive them over. He lived 20 minutes away, but he wouldn’t do it, even though I was working the next day and he was unemployed. Eventually they got to sleep.
Ray wasn’t around the next couple of days, and the girls cried for their unicorns and sea otters until they went to visit him again. They were crying even harder when I came to pick them up.
Ray told them he needed the money, and so he sold all the Beanie Babies. The next time they came to visit, he had a new motorcycle. This was one of a few times in my life when I really, truly wanted to hurt someone. Bad.
Last Sunday night, I was watching football with Jessie and The Boy and grilling burgers. She was somewhere in the middle of a sentence of which the only part I can remember now was, “…and Dad used to buy us all those Beanie Babies.” I don’t remember another part of that particular conversation, but some blessed angel gave me lockjaw at that moment, to keep me from screaming, “I’M THE ONE who bought the Beanie Babies!” I probably would have screamed another dozen ugly things, too.
While I sat there sucker-punched, I suddenly realized that the Ray selling their toys and buying a motorcycle just doesn’t even exist in her mind. She also doesn’t remember the time he showed her his hand-gun, showed her a bullet, and said, “This is the bullet that is going to kill your mom,” before loading the pistol.
She doesn’t remember the Friday nights when their bags were packed for a weekend with him, and at eight p.m. he’d be calling, saying, “I’m still working on this car, it’ll be about an hour.” Then he’d call at nine, ten, eleven, slurring so badly I could hardly understand him, and end up screaming at me when I said the girls were in their pajamas and sleeping on the living room floor waiting for him, maybe we should do this another day.
Oh, I SO want vengeance. I want them to remember all the crappy things he did; I want them to remember how I was SuperMom. But you know what? All those years ago, I used to plead with God to get his act together, I used to sob at night wishing that my girls didn’t have these kinds of ugly dad-images whenever someone mentioned dads. I got my wish.
I don’t know all that my girls remember, but I am thankful that they don’t have these particular memories. I know how awful it is to cringe at the word “dad” and not have any comprehension whatsoever of the Hallmark card-stereotype of fathers. My girls have some good memories, and I am thankful (sometimes) that they don’t know what I know. My challenge is to help them respect the man they know regardless of what I know.
P.S. Just to be clear, neither of my daughters read my blog or anything else I post on the internet.