Most children with divorced parents would tell you that they prefer one parent over the other. I agree. I moved in with my father 6 months ago and at the beginning, I missed my old life so much, sometimes I cried at night. I used to make sure I was alone in my room when I did and I tried not to make any noise. But father always heard me and always came in to give me a hug. It was very comforting. He always made sure I fell asleep before he left – mum never did that.
Mum let me get away with a lot of stuff but now, I have ‘rules’. At first, I thought I wouldn’t follow them but once, I raised my voice at him and even swore at him but that night, he wouldn’t come into my room to hug me even when I howled so, I had to apologise. He didn’t teach me all the rules but I learnt them along the way. For example, when I made fun of a celebrity on TV and he looked at me with such disappointment in his sad eyes that I apologised immediately without even thinking. Mum used to look at me with disappointment when I didn’t grab an opportunity to mock others.
‘Did you not see that woman?’ she would ask incredulously. ‘I mean tone the makeup down love! And maybe join a gym or two!’ She would laugh and I would laugh and we bonded.
Two months ago, my friend Peppa came over to father’s house for the first time so I made sure to remember the rules and I didn’t gossip with her even though she called me a ‘goody-two-shoes’. I thought this would make father happy but when she left, father’s caring eyes looked sad. I asked him what was wrong and he told me I had to stop being friends with Peppa. He called her a ‘bad influence’. But I didn’t do as he said because I loved being friends with Peppa. She reminded me of my mum and even though I never told father, I missed mum sometimes.
One day, Peppa and I got into a fight after school and I ended up in hospital because she ran and left me alone to fight – one against four. When father got to the hospital, he looked so heartbroken that I felt ashamed and apologised immediately. All he said was, ‘It’s OK’ and then he fluffed my pillow for me. When we left the hospital, I wasn’t ashamed anymore. Peppa tries to be my friend now but I’ve learnt my lesson so I stay away from her always.
Mum still calls sometimes but it’s weird cos I want to talk to her less and less. On Monday, father was in the room when she called and for some reason, I refused to pick her call. Then father smiled at me and I was happy that I made the right decision. I felt like I had won something.
Now, father and I talk all the time and at dinner time, he gives me way too much food although he wouldn’t let me eat junk food like mum. It’s one of his ‘rules’ and it’s very frustrating. Sometimes, I buy them after school and eat them but then my stomach hurts as if I ate stinging nettles. I guess I’m used to homemade meals now.
Today, someone knocked on the door and when I opened it, it was mum. When I saw her, I remembered our past and I almost hugged her but then I remembered father’s warm and strong arms and I didn’t. Mum’s hugs are very loose and she never hugs for more than five seconds. I’ve counted. She had a nice tan and it made her look pretty. She even had a new perfume on that smelled really nice.
‘Cor! Jane! I’ve been gone six months and you’ve changed completely. What has he been feeding you? You never grew this fast when you were with me!’ Then father came out and mum looked so scared that I could see all the wrinkles on her face. She looked like the old witch in my old Hansel and Gretel storybook. I could only smell her perfume now and I felt like I couldn’t breathe just like the girl at school who had an asthma attack.
‘I know I’ve lost visitation rights but I missed her and I just thought maybe I could take her out just for a day – you know? A girl’s day out?’
Then my father put his strong arms around me and he asked me if I wanted to go. That’s what I love about father: he always gives me a choice so I chose wisely and said no. As soon as father slammed the door, I couldn’t smell mother’s perfume anymore and I breathed in the fresh air. God is definitely my favourite parent!