It all started with the last batch of reports on London.
Usually, I try to at least skim the weekly reports on my daughter's activities as soon as they arrive, but sometimes that's not practical. When you run a business empire as large as mine, there are always unforeseen developments coming up. And while I delegate authority wherever I comfortably can, much of my business requires my personal involvement.
I've always had much better luck in delegating my parental duties anyway.
So, for the past few weeks, I had been sitting the reports on London aside. I didn't see the harm in it. If there had been a serious medical or legal problem involving London, I would have been informed immediately. Since I'd received no such alert, I assumed that nothing out of the ordinary was going on with my little girl.
When I finally sat down and looked over the recent reports, I saw that I was wrong. Something out of the ordinary was going on. London had a new boyfriend. A boyfriend that she was apparently very serious about.
Now, that alone was no cause for alarm. It had to happen someday. And London was nearly eighteen after all. I knew she couldn't be my little girl forever. But the lad she was so serious about...this Cody Martin person...this was unexpected.
He certainly wasn't the type of boy London had ever shown an interest in before. Very intelligent. No money. Younger. At first, I couldn't understand why London would be involved with him. Then again, I've never been particularly adept at understanding the female mind. If I were, I wouldn't be supporting so many ex-wives.
From what I can tell, London and the boy had simply grown close while spending a lot of time together as friends. In fact, her schoolwork showed a marked improvement over the same time period. The boy was obviously a good influence on her academically.
Unfortunately, that one positive didn't outweigh all the potential negatives I could see arising if this relationship were to continue. The press has always loved to spread gossip about my daughter. Being the richest heiress in America and a stunning beauty to boot, the tabloids can't get enough of her. I could well imagine the kind of spin they'd put on this story...two teenagers with racing hormones, one of them a few years under the age of consent.
The last thing I needed was for my daughter to be accused of statutory rape.
Not that I thought London and the boy were actually sleeping together. Nothing in the reports indicated that. But the press never lets facts get in the way of a juicy story.
So the answer was obvious. London would have to stop seeing the boy. Since this would no doubt upset her, and because I did have a small bit of free time in my schedule, I decided to fly to Boston and tell London in person, rather than over the phone.
I may not be father of the year, but I'm not completely insensitive.
London was surprised when I arrived of course. Stunned even. But she was certainly happy to see me. I admit I felt a little guilty when she ran up and hugged me. One of the first things she said was that she wanted me to meet her new boyfriend. I told her we had to talk first and led her up to her penthouse suite.
The talk didn't go exactly how I had imagined it would. I thought London would throw a tantrum and pout when I told her she wouldn't be able to date the lad anymore. But the tantrum didn't come right away. She was shocked, and obviously upset, but she kept relatively calm and asked me why I was putting an end to the relationship. I told her my reasons...and still there was no tantrum from her.
Much to my surprise, London told me that she and Cody had already discussed most of the issues I had a problem with. Furthermore, they'd already discussed these things with Cody's mother, and they'd all agreed to certain ground rules. London tried to assure me that she and Cody were going to be responsible and not do anything that could get them in trouble. She said there'd be no 'adult stuff' until they were both of age.
While I was somewhat impressed by London's attitude...it wasn't enough to change my mind. I admired my little girl's intentions, but she was still just a teenager, as was the Martin boy. Besides, even if they were both as good as their word, that wouldn't stop the press from hounding them. So I told London that my decision was final.
That was when the tantrum started.
Now I've weathered many a tantrum from London in the past, but this was far and away the worst. Still, it changed nothing in my mind. I let her blow off her steam, listened to her yelling and screaming and crying and then repeated that my decision was final. That's when things took a different turn. London stopped crying. She looked me straight in the eye. And she said...
"Go to Hell."
It was unnerving. The way she said it. She was so incredibly...serious. I'd never seen her like that before.
Of course, I couldn't let her talk to me like that. If she was going to be that way, I had to show her how serious I could be. So I told her, in no uncertain terms, that she was not going to argue with my decision and she was not going to speak like that to me again. If she did, I was cutting off her allowance...and I meant all of her allowance. No more penthouse, no more trust fund...she'd have nothing.
That made her quiet for a moment. A long moment. She just looked down at the floor for awhile. I hated to be so harsh with her, but that was the way it had to be.
Then she looked up at me again.
"Go to Hell."
The first time she'd said it was unnerving, but this time...I don't even think I can fully describe the way I felt. It was probably the look in her eyes that made the biggest impression on me. They were so full of determination...but not just that.
There was fear there. Pure, undisguised fear.
Let me tell you something, a lot of people confuse being fearless with being brave. Fearlessness is not bravery. Fearlessness is usually just stupidity. Fearless people will take risks because they don't understand the potential consequences. Bravery is understanding the consequences and taking the risk anyway.
And I could tell that London understood exactly what she was doing. She understood that she's led a sheltered life. She understood that she wasn't cut out for living the life of an ordinary person. She understood all that...and it still wasn't enough to make her give up Cody.
I had no idea my little girl had that kind of strength.
So...I caved. I told London that I'd go with her to meet Cody and his mother, and give them a chance to allay my concerns. In fact, that's where I'm going in about fifteen minutes.
It's almost funny when you think about it. Me...going to meet my daughter's boyfriend.
It'll be one of the few times I've ever done anything like actual parenting.
Well, I never claimed to be father of the year.