It’s the little things that hurt, sometimes…

cello recital with pianoI attended my daughter’s cello recital last week and it was delightful. It’s wonderful to see all of these children have the courage to go in front of a room and play solo pieces, whether they were 45 seconds long or complicated five minute pieces (depending on their experience level). The piano was accompanying most of them, but there was a duet and even a quartet piece for cello. Lovely, and the little ones of 4 or 5 who played Mississippi Stop, Stop or Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star? Delightful.

What they all had in common was the instructor, a gal who is a popular cello teacher in the area, and someone who is generally caring and seems hip to modern families, rolling with it if I bring my girl to practice rather than her Mom because on that day it was easier to mix up the schedule.

And then there was the program for the recital. The program that featured a few pages of “bios” for the performers, the kids who shared their ages and interests.

My older daughter was neutral:

“I’m a sophomore, I like playing volleyball and riding horses and playing cello, of course.”

But then I read the bio of my 8yo girl and it was like a tiny stab in the heart:

“I live on a farm and I have horses and I have an older sister and brother and I have four step siblings.”

What’s wrong with that picture? She doesn’t “live on a farm” she lives in two houses, one of which is a farm. It’s as if my years and years of pushing, fighting and time, energy and love spent creating a warm and comfortable second home for her suddenly vanished.

I felt marginalized and it hurt.

Worse, another little girl in the program is either more sensitive or had a parent who helped, because her bio stated:

“My favorite animals are buffalos and camels. I like to go camping, and I have two houses.”

I know, I’m being sensitive here, but if you’re part of a two-household world because of a divorce — or because your parents created that world for you with their own divorce — then I encourage you to keep in mind that anytime you talk about “home” it’s beneficial to keep in mind that you’re one of the lucky ones that has two homes, not just ignore one because the day you wrote the bio you were at one house instead of another.

It would have been nice if the teacher would have caught this, but really, it’s not her responsibility.

Perhaps nothing could have changed the situation and perhaps it’s a bit much to hope for a 3rd grader who is worldly enough to take into accounts the feelings of both her Mom and Dad, but those four step-siblings? They’re Mom’s new husband’s kids. And me?

I’m just the guy who didn’t seem to be a very important part of the picture at that particular moment…

2 comments on “It’s the little things that hurt, sometimes…

  1. I’m sorry you had to go through this. I hope it helps for you to know that I’m one of man who look to you for advice in my post-divorce family. My kids live with me all but 4 days/month and I still hear how big and beautiful their Dad’s house is and how they have 2 sisters (not even half sisters). Seems that we just have to keep loving them and hope they remember all that we do.
    Your girls will know the energy you put into them and the world at large – I’m betting they already do. Good luck

  2. This made me so sad. I’m sure it was unintentional, but equally sure that it really hurt for you to read it. Unfortunately, that sort of thing can go on even with adults.

    I have a male friend whose daughter was born a few weeks after he graduated from high school. He had dutifully married the mother, but they were just too young, and a couple months after the baby was born, she left them both, and eventually filed for divorce. That Fall, my friend packed up his infant girl and went to Berkeley to attend Cal Berkley. He managed to raise his girl and get through undergrad and law school, and when she was 8, the mom turned up and wanted her child back. After a couple months, she returned her to my friend and took off again. She popped back into her daughter’s life every few years and would take her camping.

    The daughter is now a world famous astronomer, and is hugely respected. Upon winning a prestigious award, a few years ago, she told the audience that she gave her mother credit for the woman she is, and her love of space. She never mentioned her father. Her father was there at the awards, her mother was not.

    My friend and his daughter are now estranged, partly because of this incident. Sometimes the perceived “fun” parent gets all the credit. A sad situation. Maybe you could explain to your daughter that it hurt, and why…

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