Being a Puppy

There is an inherent disadvantage of being your father’s pet, especially as a daughter [AND only child]: there is very little I can say that he takes seriously.

Yesterday, Facebook threw up a memory for me:

Every time my father had to go to a doctor, guess who had to trot along? If you guessed me, you’re right. My mother is hopelessly squeamish, and once ran out of the room when I was at a dentist’s. So in order that my father have some level of moral support, I went along.

However, I soon realised that my father couldn’t be trusted to go to a doctor on his own. Because the doctor would ask: “Hello. How are you?” reasonably expecting a list of symptoms, and my absolute pest of a father would answer: “Very well, thank you. And you?” After a major facepalm and much rolling of eyes, I would interject, listing his actual symptoms, adding for good measure: “We wouldn’t be here, if he was fine!”

Anyway, it became a thing: I attended all doctors’ appointments henceforth. Mainly to ensure that he communicated his symptoms clearly, he asked the right questions, and got the information we needed.

Now, my father was a cartoon character, but he looked quite venerable and distinguished, with a shock of silvery hair and an elegant French beard. So it was understandably hard for doctors to lecture him. So I was the de facto target for all the lectures: “He has to lose weight! On a war footing!” and “You must be more careful with his diet!” and more along those lines. As though he wasn’t an autonomous adult with decision-making abilities, and I was force-feeding him.

My father sat back and listened to these tirades [directed at me] with the utmost serenity. Even secret glee, if truth be told. He was incorrigible.

We usually left these appointments with me swelling with annoyance and seething with unexpressed resentment, and waiting just to get back home to my lone sympathiser [mom] to ream him out.

Except none of my lectures had the tiniest effect. My father just stood there, looking seraphically at me, not taking in a word of my tirade. Somewhere in the middle [sometimes the middle of a sentence] he would turn to my mother and say: “She’s so grown up now. She was such a baby! She IS such a baby. She’s so cute.”

I mean, I was hardly ever angry with him, but hearing this, even the mild annoyance and sense of ill-usage used to fade away. It is endearing to be a 30-something year old, and still have your father look at you as his little girl. A little girl with pigtails and an upturned face with big eyes.

And then he used to say to me: “You’re my puppy, OK? Don’t try to become my grandmother!”

Well. Yeah.


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