My daughter turned 24 this past weekend. She doesn't live with us anymore, has her own apartment with friends a few towns west of us. She commutes to her job in the city via the train, so she doesn't ride in with us the way she used to. She and I communicate through text and email, and once in a while we have lunch together.
I still pick up the tab even though she offers. So I'll let her leave the tip if she wants to contribute.
With this birthday being the very first birthday that she lives away, I knew that we were probably not going to be doing anything with/for her to commemorate the event. I had bought 2 tickets to see Guster and offered her one, but she was going on a corporate retreat all day on Friday so she knew Saturday she would not really want to go out.
I took her to lunch on Thursday and we spent two hours together (thankfully, both of our companies are flexible with lunches. When I think of how many lunches I've inhaled at my desk in 10 minutes, taking a 2 hour lunch once in a very very long while is no great crime).
It was kind of weird, not taking her out to dinner with the family. Not arguing with Geoff that he has to go, it is required and expected of him.
Geoff and I were running errands on Saturday and he asked where we would be going to dinner for Jess' birthday and I explained that she didn't want to go out - that she just wanted to stay home in her place with her friends.
"You get to be a grown-up human, and your parents don't always take you out to eat for your birthday as the years go by," I explained to him. "You start to develop your own thing. She lives with her friends, she said they'd probably get chinese food and beer and drinks and hang out at the apartment. She just wants to do that."
He looked astonished.
His facial expression screamed "What do you mean you don't take your kid out to dinner for their birthday when they're older? This is preposterous, woman!"
"You seem a little upset by this," I said. "She lives in a different town. My parents don't take me out to birthday dinner every year. Maybe once in a while if we happen to get together close to my birthday, but I don't expect it. I grew up and moved out of the house and developed my own new traditions. With dad. And you guys."
"Yeah," he said, "but you moved five hours away from your parents and Jess is only 15 minutes away from us. There's no excuse not to take her out to dinner."
He was genuinely upset.
"Geoff," I said, "she and I talked about it and she's okay with it. I knew this day would come where she would move along with her life. I offered and she declined. Heck, you didn't want to go out for your birthday this year, so I'm not sure why you feel so strongly that we need to take her out."
He didn't say anything else, but I could kind of feel that he was struggling with some sort of disruption in the family "Force" of sorts. I didn't know if:
a) he was hoping for a free dinner out that night
b) honestly concerned that we were being dicks to Jessica by not taking her out
c) fearing the future for his own birthday meals
Part of me wants to really believe b is the option. That he honestly and deeply is concerned for her and now that she doesn't live with us anymore he sort of wants to see her, in his own weird Geoff way. Part of me thinks c is the truth too. That if we stop taking her out for dinner, he's next.
I told him that as long as he lives with us, or does not make his own plans for things on his own without us (the way Jess did) we'll be taking him out to dinner. No worries.
I'm wondering if this isn't a new moment of love between siblings, something I've wanted to see from the two of them forever. Well, for a long time.
And on another note, dude. My daughter is 24.