New York

“you better keep your wife away from my black brothers cuz she looks like a birthday cake on Christmas. And who’s this? What’s your name girl? You gotta boyfriend? How old are you? … that’s close enough to legal! … when the time comes to pick s husband can I be the man?”

Just some dialog from a comedy show peddler in NYC today talking to my dad. 

And I can’t stop thinking about it and wanting to cry. 

My mom laughed at the comment made in reference to her, and it’s unclear if it was insecure or she actually found it flattering/funny. My dad laughed along too but I could tell he was at least a little more uncomfortable.

When he turned his attention to me I was uncomfortable. I didn’t really know the proper way to respond. I’ve never in my life experienced that situation before. Do I act polite? Play along? My parents are right here. What’s the safest course of action?

I don’t think it’s unfair for me to have expected that my parents should deal with this inappropriate behavior. But they didn’t. When he asked my dad about marrying me, he laughed uncomfortably and looked to me and said “it’s up to her” putting the weight on my shoulders to handle this. I didn’t think it was funny at all. I felt unsafe to begin with, and the proof and idea that my own father wouldn’t help me and try to protect me from this was… shattering. 

I know he’s generally an awkward man, but he’s my father. He has an obligation to protect me from people who make me unsafe and make inappropriate remarks in my way. That’s his job as a father. It may have been one thing if the man on the street was clearly my age, a peer. I wouldve been a bit better able to handle it. But it wasn’t. This was a grown man probably in his 30s. I have no experience in this situation to begin with. I’m trained as a young girl in this society to be respectful and look out for others feelings. And with my parents there and expecting me to handle it, i couldn’t tell what response they expected me to make. Does my being respectful and polite in my response give them a sense of pride that they raised a good natured daughter? Do they think I found the situation numerous or flattering? If I had been more rude and made it clear his behavior wasn’t okay would they have been shocked and disappointed in my crude response? What did they want from me in that situation?

Everytime I think back to it and picture it it makes me feel physically sick. My own parents weren’t going to protect me from this. They didn’t protect me from this. I assume they were both also too inexperienced to know how to handle the situation. But they’re  the adults and I’m their 16 year old daughter. Just because they’re feeling unsafe and uncomfortable dealing with a situation that involves my safety DOES NOT MEAN THEY PUT THE RESPONSIBILITY ON MY SHOULDERS.

That man was not my responsibility. That situation was not my responsibility. As the 16 year old traveling with her parents, I don’t feel that I should be expected to deal with sexual harassment made in regards to me. They’re my fucking parents and they’re supposed to protect me. Look out for me.

And I guess the biggest reason this hurts so much, is because it’s another more recent example of how they have never really been my parents. They’ve never really looked out for me. Sure they cleaned up my scrapes and cuts, put on band aids…

But everything, everything has always been my responsibility.

I’m trying to think of a time they ever legitimately stood up for me. And I can’t think of one. They’ve always been too scared of confrontation, of rocking the boat that they’ve never done anything o show me that they’re always going to be there for me, a place I can go when the world seems to be against me. 

When I was little, like really little, learning how to deal with all my emotions and what to do when I was sad or mad was left to me to figure out. They didn’t give me any coping skills other than locking me in my room until I shut up. Until I learned that the easiest way to get over stuff and be allowed back out of my room and back as part of the family was to bottle everything up.

They made fun of me relentlessly when I was growing up. If other people picked on me they would join in. They’ve never stuck up for me.

I don’t ask them for help because they aren’t helpful. They never have been. They still aren’t. 

And what is a relationship with parents based on other than looking for help? For wisdom or for solace from the real world? They’ve always felt unsafe. And today made that feeling even louder. I’m supposed to be able to walk through new york with both my parents and know and feel that nothing bad is going to happen to me, that no one is going to make me feel violated or unsafe or uncomfortable because they’re there. And seeing that that just is not the case is really hard.

I wish my parents weren’t so bad at being parents. I wish my dad was more sure of himself so he could be there for and stick up for me instead of looking to me to get us out of a situation where I was becoming the target. I wish my mom wasn’t always so concerned with herself and her experience and the way she looks to everyone else and that she could just be my mom. 

But that goes against exactly who they are at the core. That means going through some serious changes that 27 years of parents hasnt even been able to do. 

This is just one more reason why I don’t want to have a serious relationship with them.


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