Images by John 'K'

Life as seen through my lens…

Happy “Multi-function day” ?

This year found us with Father’s Day landing on the same day as the birthday of one of my daughters. At the same time, because of the actions of one of my other daughters, my wife found herself back in England having to do a load of unexpected work to our house back there. As a result, last Sunday was a bit of an odd day as it was not easy to really get into the spirit of anything. My one daughter was upset because she was having to share ‘her day’ with Father’s Day, plus her mum wasn’t going to be here. My other daughter here was not in the best of moods because she was being ‘forced’ to be with her family (or at least the part that was here) while her friends were off doing other stuff without her, and so trying to make something of the day was going to be an uphill struggle from the start.
For the weeks leading up to last Sunday, we’d been trying to work out what to get my daughter for her birthday. We finally settled on either a new phone, or an iPod. As fate would have it, a week before her birthday her previous phone died, so the decision was made – a new phone! We popped round to the local AT&T store, and after some time considering the various models, she settled on a nice new red Blackberry Pearl with a bunch of accessories. Phone, camera, internet capable, can act as a GPS navigator (with optional service), works as a music player (and with a 2GB card hold around 500 tunes), and all in all a very nice phone in a very compact package. My phone (coming up for 4 years old) was overdue for an upgrade, so I opted to get the grey version for myself. Needless to say we made the salesman in the store very happy. 🙂
The next day, I took my other daughter in and we upgraded her phone too. Her old phone had started randomly freezing up on her (I blame it on overuse!), and so we took her to the same store and got her something a bit more up-to-date – not as expensive as the ones we got the day before, but still after accessories and the like was up in the $200 bracket. Now AT&T own the baseball stadium in San Francisco, and the following Sunday (birthday/Father’s Day) two of the local teams were playing a game there, so we were given 4 free tickets for the game. Having never been to a major league game before, I thought it might be fun just to go for the experience. The week passed, and it became obvious that neither of my daughters were really keen on the idea, so I gave them options to back out and do something else (it’s not like the tickets had cost us anything), but they didn’t.
The day before her birthday (as we were off to the ball game on the day) I took my daughter shopping so she could choose a few extra things for herself – we ended up with a new mouse and headphones for her computer, and some clothes. These were duly stashed away and wrapped so she’d have something to unwrap on her birthday.
The day came, and so Sunday morning we all got up, exchanged cards and presents (more on that later), loaded up with some supplies, and drove over to the BART station to take the train into the city. All around us were Giants and As fans – clearly the game was going to have a good turn out. We got to the city, walked the few blocks between the BART station and the stadium in the late morning sun. With fans from both teams walking down the road with us exchanging friendly pregame chatter, we approached the stadium. As we walked in, we were each given a free metal water bottle from the home team, and we made our way to our seats.
The stadium was clean, well maintained, and the crowds were friendly and eagerly looking forward to the game – a much different (and nicer) experience to the last soccer game I’d been to back in the UK. Pregame there were some kids and dads activities out on the playing field, and then after a few minutes the game started. All I’ll say at this stage is that baseball is much like cricket from the viewpoint of understanding/liking it. If you understand the rules and have been brought up on it from an early age it’s clear that people love it. If however you are a stranger to the game, they both have the same level of appeal (which is not a lot!).
We sat through about an hour of the game before we all decided we’d had enough. My youngest had decided this as we’d walked into the stadium. My other daughter hit her threshold at about the same time I did, so we got up and headed for the exit, happy that we hadn’t paid for the tickets. At least we can say we’ve been to a major league baseball game now, but we probably won’t be doing it again any time soon.
So we walked back to the BART station, stopped for a late lunch on the way, and then came back home. A little later in the day we headed back out to go see a movie. The "birthday girl’ chose, so we ended up seeing ‘Sex and the City’, which was an altogether better movie than I was expecting it to be. We’d had to convince the other daughter to come with us as she was still in her "fed up because she couldn’t be with her friends" mood, and when the movie finished, she was in even more of a mood as it had reminded her of her recent split with her now ex-boyfriend. Her reaction to the day as a whole had clearly irritated her sister, and so on the way back from the movie theatre you could have cut the air in the car with a knife.
When we got home, birthday girl went straight to her computer to tell her side of the day’s events to her on-line friends, and the other daughter stropped off to her room. A few minutes later she emerged again. She’d recently stared seeing (and expressing an interest in) a new guy, and as she was now upset she wanted to be with him (it’s around 11pm at this stage and I have work the next day). She wanted to go round to his place, but I said no – if she sees him, he comes to us, and doesn’t stay long either (as it was late). About 5 minutes later he arrives, and her mood instantly changes from upset to happy and playing around, and they continued for around the next hour and a half with no care for the rest of us until I decided that enough was enough and asked her to show some consideration for the lateness, the others in the house, and requested that the guy leave.
So lets look at the day in hindsight… The one daughter was fed up because she wasn’t able to do what she wanted on this day, and at the end of the day managed to put myself and my other daughter on a guilt trip just so she could get her way and be with her new "friend" for a while. ‘Birthday girl’ was upset because she didn’t get a birthday cake and because her mum wasn’t there for the day (we were saving a cake for when her mum gets back here), and because neither of her sisters back in the UK had managed o get a card in the mail to her to be here for the day. Add to that she didn’t really want to go to the game, and then her sister’s reaction to the movie in the evening also upset her. And then from my perspective I had to navigate the complex moods of two teenage daughters, and at the same time not show disappointment that no-one had managed to put a little thought into getting a fathers day present for their dad (and also no cards in the mail from the daughters in the UK). Having said that, at least my eldest did think to send an e-card to ‘birthday girl’ and I, and there’s some stuff coming back from the UK being hand carried by my wife – more than the other UK based daughter did.
All in all the day was a bit of an odd one. Sure we tried to do stuff to make it nice for dad and daughter, but that didn’t really work out, and if I’m to be perfectly honest, it’s a good job that my wife was back in England and not here, as her threshold for tolerating this sort of thing from our kids is much lower than mine, and the day may well have ended up very ugly much sooner. Was I wrong to expect better from my daughters? Have I screwed up as a father? Who knows….
Oh – if you’re interested, the A’s beat the Giants 5-3.

One response to “Happy “Multi-function day” ?

  1. Maria June 21, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Sorry you ended up with a disappointing day, I did consider putting the cards in the post but as mum was over and had presents to send back too I thought I would send Ecards so you would know we were thinking of you on the day (and did try to catch you online but saw no sign) and send the "real" stuff back with Mum. maybe you can have another try at anicefamily day out when mum gets back?

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