Last week, Martin and Miss C drove to New Jersey together to see famed celloist Yo-Yo Ma perform in Newark.
It was her big Christmas gift. Martin and I wrapped the two tickets in a box along with a new purple party dress, a black lace cardigan, rhinestone jewelry and a crown, and a letter explaining that she would be going with her father and that it would be an overnight trip in a fancy hotel, too.
She couldn’t wait. The weeks leading up to the event were filled with such excited anticipation, but not just for Miss C.
For me, too.
Those two really needed that trip together.
Ever since day one, Martin’s been firmly wrapped around Miss C’s pinky. For the first two years of her life, they were together every single day.
The former German tank commander and the dark curly-haired little girl. You never saw one without the other.
Partners in crime. Best friends.
Loyal members of the mutual admiration society.
It made my heart soar knowing they were so connected. Their bond made it easier for me to leave the both of them when I deployed in 2007, because I knew that no matter what, they had each other. Neighbors sent messages to me, telling me they saw the two having a picnic on the porch, or going around the neighborhood for a walk.
Even when Martin returned to working full-time, he always made time for his daughter.
Like peanut butter and jelly, those two were meant to be.
But of course, relationships are easy when one person is a smitten new parent and the other is a happy-go-lucky cheese addict with a nap schedule. Relationships get harder as those people grow older, crankier, and sharper with their own opinions.
And let’s not forget the changing family dynamics. No longer the only child, Miss C’s assumed the role of big sister, and with it, the balance of being a kid and being a helper to us. Martin’s time and attention is more divided now, too, and let’s face it, with age comes less energy and patience that seemed to be in abundance just years ago.
Oh, and then there’s “the change” itself. The one that is slowly, but surely creeping into the household with the occasional eye roll, stomped foot, and slammed door.
Add all of this together along with homework demands, a household chores list, great expectations, and a genetically-identical sense of stubbornness, and you can see why there’s been a shift in the relationship between Martin and Miss C in recent times.
Instead of having to sneak into the conversations between the two, I’ve often found myself having to run interference, to be a referee when the two can’t make sense of each other.
The shift in their relationship isn’t worrisome, but just more complicated.
So when the opportunity came for those two to take a break and go off on an adventure together, we jumped at it. On a whim in early December, I checked to see if Yo-Yo Ma was performing anywhere local for the holidays. Miss C is taking cello lessons this year, and adores the famed cellist. As it turned out, Yo-Yo Ma was performing that very weekend at the Kennedy Center here in DC, but the show as completely sold out.
But I did see that the next possible East Coast opportunity to see him was in New Jersey in early January. That’s only a few hours by car, and there were still good seats available for really decent prices. I called up Martin and we added up the numbers — gas, hotel, tickets, a new dress, etc. It all fit nicely in our holiday budget, so we went for it, deciding that Martin would be the one to take her.
On Christmas morning, Miss C was thrilled when she opened up the box to find the tickets. January couldn’t come soon enough!
Finally, though, the big day arrived, and she and Martin buckled up into the car and drove north to New Jersey. Later this week, Miss C herself will share her experience about the concert. So I won’t share all the details here.
But I will say that it brought me so much joy as Martin sent me updates throughout their trip, telling me about the awesome time they had reconnecting away from homework and chores, household responsibilities, and the younger two kids.
He sent me photos and texts of Miss C getting some beauty sleep before the big event, and their view from the hotel.
Shopping for shoes when they realized Miss C’s feet no longer fit her black ones. How he let her pick new ones with just a little bit of heel that “sounded like Mom” when she walked in them.
Taking her out to eat and helping her put on just the right amount of eyeshadow for the special occasion.
How she jumped up and applauded when Yo-Yo Ma walked out on stage, as if he was Justin Bieber.
And how Martin watched Miss C talk so easily with the other music-goers, many who were decades older than she, and who were surprised to see someone her age in attendance.
Someone who is such a young lady now …. but never too grown up for time with her Dad.