All I Ask
Category: Post-ep to Ellie
Character: Jed Bartlet
Millie's words are going to be haunting me for the rest of the night, I just know it. And unfortunately Abbey's not coming back until tomorrow morning. So I am on my own with these words and my own thoughts.
How could my daughter, my own flesh and blood be frightened of me? Do I really act like the king of whatever room I am in? I don't think so, at least not with my family. I'm not a tyrant; I don't stand on a proverbial pedestal. That's not who I am. Why would Ellie think that about me?
I try so hard to "connect" with her. What usually happens is that we take one step forward and two steps back. Today, I don't even think we took half a step forward. Only a few giant leaps back.
Now I don't even want to go back to the movie, even if we were getting to the good part. I am in the mood to throw a fit but I will spare the guards at the door my ranting and raving. After all they have seem enough of it over the past few weeks. So I'll just brood quietly, out here, in February, without a coat. I seem to be ending up here quite frequently without a coat. It's crisp, not freezing, I keep telling myself. Too cold to play chess, besides I don't feel like playing against myself again. So, what's next?
I have an idea, OK, it's not a good idea but I'm doing it anyway. I only had one cigarette this morning and I'm going to have my second one of the day. I guess filling my self imposed quota of nicotine and tar just minutes after meeting with the Surgeon General isn't such a good thing. Especially when the Surgeon General is a close, personal friend. But, I'll do it anyway. I'm the President of the United States; I can do pretty much whatever I want, oh yeah, except smoke inside. Stupid antiques.
Let's just peek and make sure no one is in the Oval Office...all clear. Now where did I stash that pack? Got it. Back outside.
How could Millie accuse me of loving one of my children less than the other two? I love my daughters equally. She should know that, she's known Abbey and I since Elizabeth was a baby. She's one of our best friends, that was why we asked her to be Ellie's Godmother 24 years ago. She and Ellie have always been extremely close. She dotes on her and I think she is the first one Ellie runs to when she needs to talk. Not me, her father, or even Abbey, but someone outside the family. Maybe that is what bothers me most.
What I said about Ellie belonging to Abbey is true. She's always been a hell of a lot closer to her mother than to me. And that hurts. Abbey sees it and knows how much it hurts me but she's never been able to do anything about it. She tries, she really does. But as the say goes, you can lead a horse to water but you.....
Did I just compare my child to a horse? Maybe I should try that again. Abbey tried to push us together when Ellie was younger, but it usually seemed to backfire, so when she got older Abbey just stopped trying so hard.
Abbey and I have always tried to treat the girls equally. But it's hard. Not that we love one more than the other, that's not it. The girls are just so different. And as a result Abbey and I have different ways of relating to them. Sure they look enough alike, more like Abbey than me, but they are completely different. Each with their own personalities, strengths and gifts.
Elizabeth is the oldest, the leader, the strong one. She was my shadow when she was little. She loved to come to the Statehouse with me. She would sit next to me at my desk and color while I worked. She's been through a lot. She was so young when Annie was born but she's done a fantastic job. Annie's a wonderful kid with a good head on her shoulders. I'm so proud of her and her mother.
Zoe's the baby, born 4 years after Ellie, she was a surprise. She and I have always been close. She would never admit it but she does like to spend time with me. Although some of that has less to do with me and more to do with Charlie, but I digress. She's the easiest one for me to joke with, to show my geeky, nerdy side. Sure, she rolls her eyes at me, but I know deep down she loves it. I worry about her, trying to be a normal college student with agents trailing her 24 hours a day. She's adjusted fine, I just wish she would show her face a little more often to, not just to poke her head in the Oval Office as she and Charlie are leaving on a date.
Eleanor the "middle" one. My middle child.....I think that might be some of the problem, the whole expectation of a middle child. Most of it is just crap but I guess like all other stereotypes it has to have come from somewhere. I guess we are just too different, she's meek and I'm, well, so not meek. She's quiet, where I yell. With those close to me I let my emotions show, she hides everything from me. Good or bad. But we do have one big trait in common; we are about as stubborn as they come. That's what usually causes us to butt heads and dig in our heels. Neither of us wants to budge an inch.
"I don't know how to make you happy" I hear those words echo in my head. Those words hurt me more than she will ever know. I think it took me 20 minutes, 5 tissues and a phone call to Abbey to calm me down after Ellie left the Oval Office this morning. I have never been so angry and so hurt. I think I may have scared Charlie a little. But I heard Mrs. Landingham telling him some stories of some of my other less than presidential tantrums. Today's was just another in a long list. But I don't really need to relive them just now.
I never really ask for much from Ellie, especially since I became President and she started medical school. Just to be able to spend some time with her, for her to come home at the end of the day. Doesn't even have to be everyday. I would love to see her twice a month. To have her be comfortable around here would mean the world to me. To have her know which door to walk out of, is that too much to ask? I don't think so.
But even when she is around she's so distant and hard to read.
So, all day I've been trying to think of a reason why she called Danny. It's so unlike her to speak out like that. I didn't really think Millie put her up to it. She's not that kind of person. Deep down I guess I do know why Ellie called Danny. She was worried about her Godmother and didn't want to see her hurt, by me. Ellie was right, Millie didn't really do anything other that speak her mind. So speaking up was the nicest thing Ellie has ever done for me. And I need to tell her that..soon, before we are once again victims of our own tempers.
I just realized I never even lit the cigarette. I've just been holding it. Maybe I should just quit. It would make Abbey, Leo and a whole list of others happy. Perhaps I'll just keep it to one a day. Don't think I'm ready to stop altogether. Maybe someday.
Guess it is time to get back to the movie. Don't want to miss all the good parts. Besides, it is freezing out here!
With God as my witness, I will try to better understand Ellie, to make her feel welcome, to make her feel comfortable and loved. All I ask of her is to spend time with me and to give me a chance.
I love my daughters equally. I love different things about each one of them but in the end my total love is the same. Nothing will ever change that, I can guarantee it.
So now, a quick walk back to see the good part of the movie with Ellie and maybe even try to get her to smile, just as soon as I stop and tie my shoe.
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