Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Daddy's Girl - Part 1

Dear Dora Diane,

What a gift you are! Every day you say and do things I can only begin to try to put into words. For example, the book that you wrote and illustrated for Mommy and me about how "Parent's Rock." I'll have to try to scan that into the computer. Or the shirts you very carefully planned for us to make with iron-on letters. One, in blue, says "Daddy's Girl". The other, in black, says "Mommy's Girl".

So true. You belong to both of us and our hearts belong to you. What a joy it is to see you so proud, and so innocent in your pride and joy at being loved by, and loving your parents.

That makes it all the more difficult when that innocence is dashed by the reality that some men have failed to overcome their selfishness. These are the men who have failed miserably to create a loving atmosphere in the home. Sometimes these men fail to even hang around so that their children know that they are loved. This is why that girl in your class made fun of your "Daddy's Girl" shirt. I am sure that she would love to be "Daddy's Girl" and to see that you are was painful for her. She hurt and felt jealous so she lashed out at you (people in Daddy's business call this displacement).

As angry as I get at those children for hurting you...I try not to be unrealistic and blind to where the blame really should fall. Failed fathers - or sperm doners for a graphic label. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some are married, some are out for a good time, others are afraid, and still others are simply evil in the depth of their self-centeredness. But why are they like this. Why are fathers failing so miserably? The reasons are numerous, but I like to simplify it down and call it the mashmallow syndrome.

These are the marshmallow inside, cookie crust outside guys. They feel whimpy and soft inside becuase they have never discovered their strength...probably no one has ever told them they have strength, or that they should be proud of their accomplishments, whatever they are. These men decide early that, rather than face life as a marshmellow, being picked on themselves for what they believe is their deep weakness, they begin early to build a tough external layer (the cookie crust). Sometimes it is thick, sometimes thin, but always it is false. Often it is made up of exactly what these men lack in their core: confidence, verility, or strength. Always, the cookie version is brittle, and might break if attacked. Thus, these men spend a lifetime building and protecting their tough exterior until they forget about their marshmallow inside....until they fear it will be exposed. Exposure of the inside leaves these men feeling oozy and sticky...all the things many men fear and refuse to face.

Exposure is threatened by all sorts of things: criticism (real or imagined), failure (real or imagined), and strangest of all, love. The love of a good woman threatens to expose this tough exterior for what it is...a very false and very fragile front. However, rather than give in and reveal that they are gooey and sticky inside, and attempt to change. These men often choose to hide behind additional layers of cookie crust, or run; leaving behind the people who didn't understand that these were just cookie men, with a marshmallow center.

Why do I tell you this? Why do you have to understand about cookie men?

Because you will meet the offspring of cookie men. In their own attempt to cover their vulnerable marshmallow center, they will be building a cookie crust. You are a target for them as you have no crust. You have no need for a false front as you have been taught that you are lovable and acceptable just the way you are. Your innocense and transparency allows you to be a real person: clumsy sometimes, silly sometimes, sad, scared, and joyful. You are not afraid to fail as you have been taught that failure is ok, and natural, and important. All of that is true, yet for marshmellows, it is horrific. A marshmallow boy or girl can't tolerate failure. In themselves they cover it up, in others, they pounce on it; tearing it down in an attempt to build up their cookie crust.

The offspring of cookie-men hate you just as a starving person hates the one who has plenty to eat. Some will wait for you to fail in some area and then pounce with glee. Others will try to make it happen, so they can then pounce and kick you while you are down. They may not be able to take what you have, but they will work to ridicule you and tear you down enough so that they can imagine you don't have it anymore either.

You may even fall for a cookie man one day. Your loving nature and willingness to make excuses for everyone warns me that when one of these pitiful cookie men comes along, you will see right through to the marshmallow and figure you can help them...love them enough to help them become whole and shed their crust.

I have very bad and very serious news for you. You must listen to me and understand that I am telling you the truth; that I am right. Your whole future, and that of your children centers on your understanding and accepting this very bad news. Here it is...and you're not going to like it:

You can't.

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