Column: My dad’s Father’s Day gift…a grandchild just like me

Meredith C. Carroll
Special to the Daily

There’s little that my dad wished for much more during my younger years than eventually to have a granddaughter exactly like I was. His only stipulation, as I’m positive he’d tell you, is that she’d necessarily have to be born to me and not my sister. That’s because he wanted to witness me experiencing firsthand the special kind of torture upon which only your own impish offspring can inflict so I could feel what he had been through.

Fortunately, his wish came true nearly four years ago when my older daughter, Petunia, was born. We didn’t know it at the time, of course, because for the first year or so of her life, she was sweeter than molasses and purer than the driven snow. She never cried, she giggled constantly, and she slept as if she were getting paid to do it (and she could have; we like our sleep).

Most of that changed when she was about 15 months old (except for the sleep part, thank God – she still does that like she’s a gold medalist in the sport). Then it became clear very quickly there was a mix-up in the maternity ward, and she was really the devil’s spawn. Or, as my dad had hoped, she was my daughter.

Thanks to Petunia, at present, I most closely resemble a rubber band. My patience with her and her preschool antics is constantly stretched and stretched and stretched, and the only variable each day is at what time I will snap. (Guessing the time could be like a drinking game, one in which I should be forbidden from participating because I’d always win since I already start drinking at the time – or maybe just a wee bit earlier – when the rubber band breaks and is flung across the room in a hot mess of bad mom-ness.)

My dad gets a real kick out of hearing the endless Petunia horror stories. She adores him, and the feeling is mutual and then some, but I think he adores even more knowing I bear the brunt of her darker side (you know, as dark as a little girl can be who once asked, “Mommy, why are you so … sad at Daddy?” when I spoke to my husband on the phone in a slightly elevated tone).

I call my dad and relay to him each day what she’s done, and he’ll laugh and laugh and laugh. I get why he thinks it’s funny. And he likely gets that his laughter makes me feel as if I’m 15 again with adolescent hormones surging through my bloodstream, causing me to get super irked, which just makes him laugh that much harder.

Like a few weeks ago when Petunia was apoplectic because my husband and I declined to come up to her room three hours after we put her to bed for the 11th time to cuddle with her. Her empty-water-bottle excuses were exhausted, as were her claims that she wasn’t tired (duh), not to mention we had already exorcised the nightmares and monsters from her closet and made a grand show of shoving them out the front door. So she figured out an innovative way to get us up there.

“I peed in my bed,” she sang out to us.

“Why did you do that?” I shrieked.

She stared at me all huffily after I stomped up the stairs in a mixture of disgust, exasperation and hysteria.

“Because I said so,” she said not a little evilly.

It’s one thing when your infant pees on the changing table while you’re between diapers or when she pees in the bath because the sensation of the warm water registers as relaxation in her sweet, tiny little brain. However, there’s nothing even remotely charming about the on-purpose pee of a nearly 4-year-old.

And then when the aforementioned nearly 4-year-old throws back in your face the line that’s supposed to be for parents only? The one you waited for years to be able to bust out with any semblance of authority? Grrrrrrr.

“Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha,” was all my dad had to say about that.

“She’s so kind and such a good friend,” one of her preschool teachers always declares about her.

“Oh, Petunia? She’s going to be president one day. Mark my words!” said another teacher not long ago when I relayed a different yet almost equally dismal tale involving a toothbrush, toothpaste, a trash can and Petunia’s lovely blond hair.

I’m well aware the best is yet to come, at least as far as my dad is concerned. After all, Petunia isn’t aware that someday she’ll be interested in driving and boys and that school won’t always be as fun and carefree as it is now.

Of course, I’m banking on the fact that Petunia is really just this way mostly with me and no one else. I mean, I guess that’s a good thing, you know, so long as you’re not me. At least I know it makes my dad happy, which means Petunia makes for an excellent Father’s Day gift (which means your card and not much else will arrive in the mail later this week, Daddy. Happy Father’s Day!).

— Read more of Meredith’s work at

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