We walk along the beach together, The Child and I. Her birthday is coming up and she’s full of ideas about the iPhone she wants.
But what she really wants is to turn sixteen and learn how to drive; she can’t wait to get her own car. At first she wanted my Mini, but now she thinks a SlugBug is a better choice for her. Fortunately, she has a few more years to deliberate over her choice.
She wants to take this car to college, she says. She’ll need a car there.
Well, maybe, I say. The Child has a Dutch citizenship through her father, The Foreigner, and the reason I have maintained that status all these years is this: Free college in the Netherlands for Dutch citizens. I point out to her that she may not be able to even take her car with her, depending where she goes to school.
I don’t think I want to go there, she says. I don’t really want to see my father.
I start to tell her, you don’t have to see him if you don’t want to. I want to tell her some of her other relatives there are quite nice, and Amsterdam is a cool city, and she can start her adult life without college debt, and the thousand other reasons I think this is a good idea. But none of those things matter when you’re 12, so instead I ask, why don’t you want to see him?
Do you remember when he used to call me on Skype? she asks. Every time we talked he asked me everything about myself.
This surprises me; conversations with him are usually more about listening to him.
She says: It was like I was talking to a stranger, and meeting him for the first time every time.
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