October 2, 2011

To be honest, I'm not really sure why I'm doing this. It feels wrong somehow, like I'm a bad parent or a paranoid or crazy one, or like I've been watching too many Jerry Springer reruns or too many straight to DVD horror movies. I feel guilty for even the thought of it, let alone going through with putting the words to paper, somewhere outside of my own thoughts, where anyone could see them and judge her for them, or more likely, judge me. One thing I know is that I'll be hiding this notebook, putting it somewhere that Dean and the girls can't think to look, because the last thing I want, the only thing that could make me feel worse for my thoughts than I already do, is if one of them were to know about them at this point. Especially Evangeline… above all, I don't' want Evangeline to ever have a clue that I would even consider whatever it is that might end up in this book.

Like I said, I'm really not even sure why I'm going to keep this book, except that the things I think or wonder about Evangeline sometimes, the vague unease I sometimes feel around her, is now something that I can't shrug off like I used to…the older she gets, the more it comes to me, and the harder it is to entirely dismiss or ignore. And if there's any validity to it at all, if there really might be something to it, then it's better I start to think about it now, while she's still so young, instead of waiting until she's a teen or preteen, where it could only get worse. Not to mention the fact that my daughter, even at nine years old, is still more than smart enough to confuse me and certainly her father over what really happens when she gets going with her explanations- that is definitely something I've noticed her to be talented at over the past few years. This way, whenever something happens, I can write it down and have it later as a record of what really happened, before Evangeline can change events to suit her own interpretation of them.

God, this sounds so terrible to even look at what I've written…so suspicious and ridiculous, not to mention it makes Evangeline sound like a terrible child. Like she's seriously disturbed or difficult to manage, and that isn't the case at all. In fact, Evangeline is a very good little girl, easier in some respects to raise even than her younger sister, Audrina. She's outgoing and charming, the type of child who never meets a stranger, unlike Audrina, who at seven years old is still leery with strangers to the point of clinging to my hand and refusing to look them in the eye or speak more than a word or two when they address her.

Where Audrina has a difficult time at school, requiring extra help in reading in her first grade class, Evangeline is very bright and has no trouble with schoolwork or anything else she puts her mind to, to the point that Dean and I considered allowing her to skip a grade before deciding to simply allow her to take part in the gifted and talented program at her elementary school. Where Audrina still sometimes cries and insists she doesn't feel well on her way to school, has difficulty making friends, and is generally a very shy and fearful child in even the most laidback settings, Evangeline seems to love school, arriving home each day vividly relaying her activities and her interactions with friends. Evangeline is talented in my areas, particularly musically; she sings and plays piano very well for nine, and she is also an exceptional dancer and an imaginative artist and storyteller, a very lively and creative child. She is beautiful, of course, both my girls are, but Evangeline, despite having hair the same shade of blonde and eyes the same shade of blue as Audrina, is the one that is usually first acknowledged for her looks. She's very sweet when she wants to be, especially with her father, and it's certainly natural that she would use that sometimes to get her way.

I love my daughter, both of my daughters, with all my heart, I really do, and I'm very proud of Evangeline and all that she is. Usually it's Audrina I would worry over, Audrina who I might feel I need to pay closer attention to…but lately, I feel that way about Evangeline, and this, I guess, is my attempt to find out why.

There hasn't been any real reason to think that way, no particular thing Evangeline has said or did, but maybe that's what's bothering me. I mean, every child lies now and then, or tries to work things out to her favor…lots of older children tease or manipulate their younger sisters, and I know Evangeline is usually good to Audrina, and that she loves her. Lots of little girls have their fathers wrapped around their fingers…really, none of that is unusual at all.

But still I have a feeling about Evangeline sometimes, that something about her is different, even strange. Even…as much as I hate to think it…wrong. Sometimes I feel that something is wrong with Evangeline, something I can't put my finger on, and after a while, it really starts to get to me.

It sounds silly, I know, especially when based on such small incidents, things that can and do occur with any child, especially when they're only nine years old. And probably it's just my own paranoia…even guilt, I guess it's possible that I feel guilty for returning to working part time now, now that Audrina is in first grade. I guess it's possible that since I feel like Audrina is impacted by my not being home for a couple of hours until after the girls get home from school, given how hard a time she has in school and socially, I might be looking for signs of that in Evangeline too. Or maybe I'm just crazy…whatever the case is, maybe I'm imagining the entire thing, and there's no reason at all to worry. After all, Evangeline seems happy, and isn't that what matters? As long as she's happy, doesn't that mean she's okay?

Some of it, of course, what I feel, might have something to do with what's going on with Dean and me too. I guess a more accurate way of saying would be what DOESN'T go on between Dean and me. I can't really put my finger on what it is with us either, just like with Evangeline…I only know that I feel distant from him, both physically and emotionally, like there's space between us getting wider and harder to cross every day. I know that's only natural, with ten years of marriage and two kids, and we could hardly expect things to be like they were at the beginning. Still, I hate the distance that's between us now, that way that every year, even every week, I feel like we know less about each other, when we should be learning more.

Dean and I were never the sort of couple that did everything together and told each other every thought crossing our minds, but now I feel like I don't have any insight at all into what he might think, or even how he might feel. Our affection with each other is perfunctory if it occurs at all, like we're doing it out of duty rather than because we really want to. Sometimes I almost feel like we're strangers who happen to share a room and bed, who just happen by some coincidence to have kids…like the connection we had is stretching out thinner and thinner, until the thread is almost snapped.

It's only with the girls that Dean seems to really come alive and enjoy himself, and when he's home, it's the girls he spends the majority of his time with, especially Evangeline. Maybe there's where all this comes from too, at least partly. If I'm completely honest with myself, maybe I'm a little jealous of how he is with her, so open and fun and sweet, how much attention he gives her, how he looks at her with his face glowing with love when he talks to her. It's stupid to envy a nine-year-old, I know it is, especially when the nine-year-old in question is your own child. I know Dean loves me, and I would never think he's having an affair. And I know, KNOW there's nothing…well, wrong…between him and Evangeline. I know he would never do anything to harm her, never dream of looking at her in any way different than a father should look at a daughter. If I ever thought differently, I wouldn't hesitate to take the girls and leave…and of course, if that were to happen, and it wouldn't, I would never blame Evangeline.

But still…still. Sometimes when I look at her with Dean, and see the way she twines her fingers in his shirt as she sits in his lap, the way she runs them through his hair, the way she tilts her head and smiles at him and lowers her eyelids, I think to myself she looks almost like an adult woman, a woman who knows exactly what she's doing and will use it to get what she wants. It's stupid to think that…and she's only nine…but I sometimes feel like Evangeline does know what she's doing, and does have a different mentality than you would expect….and like she knows that since we don't think that, she can get away with it.

And it makes me feel very strange to look at her, to have all those warring feelings and vague suspicions in my head, and to have no way of knowing if there's so much as a speck of truth to any of it.

And the rest of it…the lies I catch her in sometimes, her ever-changing array of friends, no girl coming to our home twice…how Audrina seems even quieter than usual around her…none of that is really unusual. I know it's probably just me, and she's perfectly fine, like she always has been.

Still, it can't hurt to watch, to write things down in case, as long as I can find a good place to put this where no one will find it. And I have to admit, it feels kind of good to get all this out, writing everything down I try not to think, let alone say. It feels better, like once it's on paper, it's not in my head, so I don't have to think about it anymore. I used to keep a journal when I was a teenager, and I guess it's not a bad thing to do as an adult. If nothing else, I can make this writing for me instead of about Evangeline…and hopefully that will be the case.