Christmas is next month and I can't believe that this is the last holiday that AJ and I will celebrate as a family of two because my son Prince Michael will be born in February. Things seemed to be going well between me and my siblings for a while and then my brothers got back into the habit of asking me for money. I of course told them that I couldn't or wouldn't give them any more money and they are giving me the silent treatment. Once again, with Janet busy with her music career the only one I can turn to is Latoya. She's been spending a lot of time at the ranch with AJ and I and we've been having a lot of fun together.
We were putting up Christmas decorations in the living room and Latoya said "you know Michael; I feel really bad because no one really acknowledges how amazing you are as a single father!" I started to blush and said "you're just saying that! I'm not as amazing as you think I am; I have my faults!" She said "all I know is that I couldn't handle being a single parent and being as famous as you are! I mean sure I'm famous too; but nowhere near as famous as you are! The fact that you can be on stage for three hours and then go back to a hotel to immediately switch your brain into daddy mode is awesome!" I said "yeah; but I'll be the first to admit that I can be a pushover when it comes to AJ! I'm hoping that I can learn to be stricter once I have more kids!" She said "that reminds me; before the baby is born you should take AJ on a vacation somewhere; just so the two of you can spend some time together before you’re too busy with the rest of the tour also." I responded "I was thinking about that yesterday! Maybe in January I will take her to Disney World because she loves going there. I don't think she really gets the whole concept of having a brother. I don't think she understands that she's not going to be able to be the center of attention anymore because I'll have to split my time between the two of them I'm just going to spend as much quality time with AJ before Prince is born."
I am still struggling with AJ's behavior and it seems to be getting worse. I've noticed that it's more rage filled than it used to be. I was doing the dishes in the kitchen while AJ finished her dinner. She said "daddy, I'm done eating." I walked over to the table and said "I want you to just eat one more bite and then you can get down." Without saying a word, she pushed the plate of pasta onto the floor and looked up at me for a reaction. I said "that's not okay; you're going to timeout now." She completely overreacted to me putting her in the corner of the room. She took off her light up Spiderman sneakers and attempted to throw them at my head. She always cries almost to the point where she's going to start hyperventilating.
I decided to do something that I normally wouldn't do; I sat down next to her on the floor and asked "why are you so angry?" She said "I don't understand why I'm in trouble daddy." I said "because you tossed your plate on the floor." I looked down at her and realized that she must've been so angry that she blacked out and didn't remember anything that had happened in the past few minutes. I let her go off into her play room to watch TV and I still sat there on the kitchen floor thinking. There has to be something else going on with AJ! A normal temper tantrum isn't supposed to be like that. I have to figure out what's going on before this gets out of control!
I had a behavioral specialist come over to the ranch today to evaluate Alanna and I'm currently standing outside her bedroom door pacing back and forth. The specialist opened the door and he said "you can come in now Michael." I sat down on the couch that's in AJ's room and the specialist said "I've discovered that I think she has oppositional defiance disorder. That means that she doesn't really think about things before she does them and that she will probably never respect authority figures in her life. When she gets angry she tends to forget why she's mad in the first place." I said "that doesn't sound like a bad issue to deal with. I'll be able to handle it!" He responded "the prognosis for her future based on statistics is that she will probably end up getting in trouble with the law a lot. It really would surprise me if you end up being able to control her behavior. I know that you'll definitely have to be a strict father when it comes to how you raise her because if you're not she's not going to listen to you at all. There's one more thing that you should know, I've also discovered that AJ has all the characteristics of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) I said "I actually thought she might have ADHD myself; so I'm not surprised to hear you say that. She always needs to be entertained because if she isn't she gets into trouble." The specialist said "if you would like to, I could prescribe Ritalin to help deal with her hyperactivity." My eyes widened in shock because I was surprised that he would even bring that up as an option.
I picked AJ up and sat her down on my lap as I said "there's no way I'm going to put her on Ritalin just because she's a little more hyper than other kids! I totally disagree with ADHD medication in every way! I've seen kids on that stuff before and all they do is walk around like unhappy zombies all day! I'm not going to do that to my daughter! She's perfectly fine just the way she is; even with a behavioral disorder and ADHD!" The specialist responded "do you realize how difficult that's going to be Michael? Dealing with the behavioral issues is going to be hard enough for you as it is!" I said arrogantly "I don't care! I can handle her; just like I have been since she's been alive! I'm going to prove to you that AJ is going to be able to beat the national statistics for this behavioral disorder you diagnosed her with! With my help, she will be a well behaved person who will grow up to be a successful adult in today's society! Thank you very much for your help; my bodyguard will walk you out to your car! Don't bother coming back here because I'm very offended by the fact that you think that just because I'm Michael Jackson I won't be able to handle my daughter's unruly behavior!"
The specialist just looked at me emotionless and walked with Jeffrey out to his car. I looked at AJ and said "I can't believe that guy! Don't worry AJ; I won't let you become just another statistic! You're not going to end up in jail as long as I'm around to stop that from happening! You're fine just the way you are and so what if you're a little hyper! I wouldn't change you for anything in this world because you're exactly who you’re supposed to be! I'm especially not going to drug you with that type medication because then you'll just be going through the motions every single day!" She just looked up at me and I asked "you don't understand what I'm talking about at all; do you?" She just shook her head and said "nope." I chuckled and said "that's what I thought! That's okay; daddy just needed to vent I think."
I've been spending most of my time lately preparing for Christmas in a few days and celebrating holidays like this is still very new to me because I grew up a devout Jehovah's Witness. Once Debbie found out she was pregnant with AJ I decided that I would give up practicing that religion because I wanted all of my children to be able to experience the typical childhood. That was a sacrifice I was more than willing to make so my children can grow up as normal as possible. I hate the fact that they are you going to unfortunately miss out on what most middle-class children experience. I'm trying my best to compensate for what the children will eventually have to face.
I was counting down the minutes until AJ's naptime because I have tons of Christmas presents to wrap and I don't want her to see any of them. I went into the living room and said "alright AJ; time to go upstairs and watch a movie or something until you fall asleep." She casually said "but I don't want to." I smiled and said "I know; but you have to." I picked her up and I could tell that she was desperately trying to stay awake to prove that she wasn't tired. I walked upstairs and put her underneath the blankets on her bed. She started her usual array of excuses; "daddy I need a drink! I'm not tired! I want to sleep downstairs!" I said "just take a nap and before you know it you'll be awake again."
I'm constantly forgetting that AJ was diagnosed with ADHD and maybe asking her to take a two hour nap is unrealistic. I said "okay; you can stay awake because maybe you aren't tired after all. You are to stay in here; do you understand?" She said "yes; I'll stay in here daddy." I was far less than convinced that she would actually listen to me; but I locked my bedroom door just as a precaution; that way she would at least have to knock. As I looked at the mountain of toys and things I had purchased for her for Christmas, I realized that I had completely gone overboard this year. The crazy part is that she's probably going to get hundreds more presents from other family members and my famous friends. Elizabeth (Taylor) especially likes to spoil her because she is just thrilled with the fact that I decided to become a father in the first place.
I just can't wait to see Alanna's face on Christmas morning when she sees all these presents under the Christmas tree and around the living room. After I was finished wrapping the gifts, I went into AJ's bedroom and she was sitting on the floor playing with Legos. She looked up at me and ran up to me as if she hadn't seen me in years. I picked her up and she said "I love you so much daddy!" I said "I love you more!" It's times like this that make me almost want to cry because everybody in my family besides my mother and Latoya complain about how AJ behaves! If only they could see what I see in my daughter! All she needs is love because in the end she's just a kid!
Christmas is two days away and it's so cute because AJ is beyond excited. We were downstairs decorating the cookies that had just come out of the oven a few minutes ago and I laughed as more frosting ended up in AJ's mouth than on any of the cookies. I said "okay, okay, okay, that's enough AJ! You don't want to make yourself sick!" I stood there in the kitchen trying to wash her face off because it was covered in frosting; but I think it stained her face red temporarily.
We went into the living room and AJ started her favorite pastime of climbing all over me like a monkey. A tickle fight ensued and I heard footsteps behind us. I turned around to see mother standing there and figured that Jeffrey must've left her inside. AJ said "hi grandma" as she shrieked with laughter. Mother smiled from ear to ear and said "you're too cute!" She looked at the tree set up in the living room and said "I see that you're still going to celebrate Christmas Michael." I said "it's not because I'm trying to hurt you mother. It's just because I want Alanna to have the childhood I didn't! I'm still going to bring my children up on the same core principles; just in a different way!" I looked at AJ and said "tell grandma what I told you about Christmas." She said "daddy told me that it's more important to give to a gift to a person than to get one yourself." I said "don't forget about the other thing that I told you." She thought about it for a second and said "Jesus first, others second, and yourself last; no matter what." I said "see mother; celebrating Christmas isn't going to change who AJ is and I have to admit that I love seeing how happy she is on Christmas morning!" She said "that's not going to change how I feel about it; but I respect your decision Michael!" I hugged mother before Jeffrey helped her out to her car and I kissed AJ's forehead.
I opened my eyes and looked at the clock next to me to see that it was 4 AM on December 25. I knew I had to wake up early so I could start setting up things downstairs before AJ wakes up. Jeffrey started moving gifts downstairs at around midnight last night and I decided it was time to bring the gifts that I had purchased for her downstairs. I walked into the walk-in closet that's in my bedroom and grabbed as many presents as I could carry. I struggled to make it down the stairs because I couldn't see where I was going. Luckily, Jeffrey was walking past the staircase and said "here Michael; let me help you with that!" He grabbed the gifts out of my arms and I walked back up the steps to retrieve the rest of them.
After I had gotten the rest of the presents from my bedroom, I went downstairs to the living room and that was the first time I noticed just how many gifts there were. I definitely went overboard this year compared to the last few Christmases because there are at least 500 presents covering the entire living room. The Christmas tree looked like it completely disappeared and Jeffrey said "I was down here most of the night moving presents over to the Christmas tree. I just woke up from a four hour nap a few minutes ago." I said "well; thank you for all your help Jeffrey! Enjoy the holiday with your family and I'll see you in a few days." Jeffrey said "thank you sir; I hope your family dinner with the rest of the Jackson's goes well tonight."
When Jeffrey left, I made my way to the kitchen and remembered that AJ had set out cookies and milk for "Santa Claus." I wasn't hungry at all because of how early in the morning it was; but I forced myself to eat two of the three cookies on the plate and drink half of the glass of milk. Cookies were definitely not my idea of a balanced breakfast; but of course I would do anything to keep the magic of Santa Claus alive for AJ.
I walked upstairs around 5 AM and had completely forgotten to give AJ the Spiderman pajamas I bought for her. I was supposed to give them to her last night so she would be wearing them when she woke up this morning. I grabbed the pajamas out of my bedroom and had to figure out if I could manage to dress her in them without waking her up. As I walked into her bedroom, she was sprawled out almost to the point where she was falling out of bed. Every time she would move, I got worried that she would wake up; but I was able to get her dressed without a problem.
I waited downstairs listening to Christmas music anticipating AJ waking up. A few hours later, I heard noises coming from upstairs and went to check on AJ. I walked into her room and laughed as her hair was sticking up in all different directions. She didn't notice me at first; but then I said "Merry Christmas" and she ran into my arms. She asked "did Santa Claus come?" I said "I don't know; you have to go see! Didn't you have 'Toy story’ pajamas on last night?" She looked down at her pajamas and said "whoa; Spiderman!" I smiled and said "let's go downstairs!"
She ran downstairs and I pulled my camera out of my pocket just fast enough to get a picture of her reaction to all the Christmas presents. I chuckled as she stood there speechless staring at the Spiderman bike that was in the center of all the wrapped presents. I put her on the bike and her legs were too short to reach the pedals. I said "that's all right; I'll just fix them later." She got off the bike and immediately wanted to start ripping into the gifts; but I said "let's go see if Santa ate the cookies you left for him last night first!"
AJ ran into the kitchen and looked at the plate with the half eaten cookie on it. I said "there's a letter from Santa! Let me read it." I grabbed a letter and read aloud "thank you for the cookies and milk. I hope you're listening to your daddy. I have lots of house to go to; so this letter can't be very long. I hope you like your bike and I'm looking forward to bringing presents for you and your brother Prince next year. Sincerely, Santa Claus and the reindeer." AJ jumped with excitement and I said "okay; let's go open some gifts!"
We sat down on the couch and I grabbed a stack of presents from the gigantic pile that covered our entire living room. I passed her one of them and she ripped it open. Spiderman after Spiderman gifts piled up like a mountain next to her! Everything from Spiderman T-shirts to Spiderman bedding covered her side of the couch. I must've purchased every single Spiderman action figure from the new line of toys that just came out a few months ago! Some of things I bought I had totally forgotten about and it surprised me that I went so far as to buy Spiderman socks and toothpaste.
When all of the presents I had gotten for AJ had been opened, I said "okay; we have to wait a while until we can open the rest of the gifts because those are from friends and family. We have to wait until they get here later for dinner. AJ said "okay; will you open this stuff for me daddy; please?" I said "of course I can! Did you like everything that I bought you?" She said "yeah; especially because you didn't buy me girl clothes and stuff this year!" I chuckled and said "yeah; I'm just happy that you'll play with the stuff that I bought you this year! I bought you a whole bunch of princess toys last year and you never even wanted me to take them out of the box!"
I spent over an hour struggling to get some of the large action figures out of the packaging. I don't understand why they make the packaging "daddy proof!" It's so difficult to get anything out of the box because they use tape, wires, and everything else you could think of to make it almost impossible for anyone to get out. Let me tell you that me trying to get these toys out of their boxes for my daughter who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder was quite an event! Every 30 seconds I would hear "hurry up daddy! You're a slow poke!" I laughed and said "hang on Alanna! I'm trying, I'm trying!"
A couple hours later, there was a knock at the door and I went to go answer it. It was a huge group of people; which included Janet, rebbie, Randy, Jackie, Jermaine, Tito, Marlon, Latoya, my manager Frank, and Elizabeth Taylor, I said "Merry Christmas everyone; thank you for coming!" I went into the living room and AJ was clearly irritated with me for taking her away from the toys that I finally was able to get open so she could greet all the guests that had just arrived. Once she saw that Elizabeth was there, she practically jumped out of my arms and into hers. Elizabeth hugged AJ tightly in her arms and said "Merry Christmas sweetheart!" I love seeing AJ with Elizabeth because she was the one who convinced me to pursue becoming a father in the first place.
Elizabeth hugged me and looked around the living room as she said "well; this is definitely quite the improvement from the first Christmas you celebrated with me here back in 1993 Michael! I remember you locked yourself in your bedroom and cried for hours because you felt terrible for celebrating Christmas!" I said "it makes it easier now that I'm a daddy!" AJ said "Aunt Liz; daddy got me a lot of Spiderman stuff!" Elizabeth responded "he did? I like your pajamas!" AJ said "thank you" and reached out for me to grab her from Elizabeth's arms.
As all of us sat there eating dinner, Janet asked "how come AJ has a boy haircut Michael?" I responded "that's what she wanted her hair to look like." She asked "why are there so many Spiderman things all over the living room?" I said "oh; that's all of AJ's Christmas presents that I bought her this year." She asked "where's all the pink and Princess stuff Michael?" I said "AJ hates girly things!" Janet said "you shouldn't buy her boy things Michael!" I cleared my throat and asked "why?" She said "because girls are supposed to like feminine things like flowers and Barbie dolls!" I said "I used to get her girls toys; but she would never play with them! I'm not going to force her to play with stereotypical female toys because she doesn't like them! Who cares if she's a tomboy? She's my child and I love her just the way she is!"
After everyone had left, I looked around for AJ and checked in the living room. She had fallen asleep on the floor with a Spiderman action figure in her hand. I picked her up and carried her upstairs to her bedroom. I covered her up at the blankets and her eyes slightly opened. She said "thank you for my presents daddy!" I smiled and said "you're welcome AJ!" She lightly pecked my lips and I said "I love you AJ; Merry Christmas!" I shut off the light and went downstairs to conquer a huge mess of gift wrap and bowties that now covered my living room floor.
I rubbed sunscreen onto AJ's shoulders and said "okay; we can go swimming now!" She didn't seem as excited as she normally would be about going in the swimming pool. I was surprised that she didn't immediately get into the pool and she looked distracted. She had been acting like that all morning and I couldn't get a straight answer out of her. I jumped out of the pool and sat next to her on the ground as I asked "what's wrong AJ? Don't you want to go in the pool? She paused for a second and hesitated pausing once again. She had a worried expression on her face which only made me wonder more what could possibly be going on. She looked at me and I asked "what's wrong AJ?" She whispered "I want to go swimming; but can I go potty first?"
It took me a minute to process what she had just asked me because I have been waiting to hear those words for such a long time now! I picked her up and said "you don't have to ask me that AJ!" I ran for the nearest bathroom and she started crying. I was completely caught off guard by that because all the other times I had brought her in here she never cried! I asked "why are you crying?" She bolted out of the bathroom and I ran after her. She continuously cried all the way upstairs to her bedroom and I followed behind her. I sat down on the edge of the bed as she cried into her pillow. I was so confused and didn't know what caused her to cry. I picked her up and sat her on my lap as I asked "please tell me what's wrong?" She didn't say a thing; so I decided to guess. I asked "are you scared?" She shook her head no and continued to cry.
I could tell that she really did have to go desperately at this point; but the conversation was going nowhere. I said "you know you can tell me anything AJ!" She sobbed and said "I want to stay your baby forever daddy!" She must've overheard me talking to mother a couple of weeks ago about how hard it is on me to let AJ grow up! I said "AJ; you'll always be my baby! You going pee in the potty isn't going to change that!" I stood up with her in my arms and said "come on; I want you to go try."
She started hyperventilating and I felt awful because it feels like I caused this. Once we got into the bathroom, she protested "I'm not going to go!" I sat down on the edge of the bathtub and said "it's okay AJ!" I realized that she wasn't going down without a fight and my heart hurt for her as she just cried to the point of almost making herself sick. I had to think of something to distract her because if I didn't I would've started crying too!
I thought about it for a second and started making funny faces at her. I stuck my tongue out, cross my eyes, and anything else I could think of. She started to laugh and I smiled; but the second I stopped making faces at her she started crying again. As I was running out of faces to make, she said "oh no" and started crying again. That's when I realized that my idea of creating a distraction had worked. I said "yay AJ; don't cry!" She said "daddy; I didn't want to go!" I picked her up and said "it's no big deal AJ! You don't have to cry about it anymore because it's done with! She continued to cry; no matter how much I praised her.
I walked into the kitchen and we went outside to the swimming pool and AJ was STILL uncontrollably crying into my shoulder. I said "it's okay AJ; all you did was pee in the potty!" I put her down on the ground and ran over to the cotton candy vendor a few feet away. I came back and knelt down next to her as she sobbed into the grass. I said "AJ; look what I have!" She looked up and her eyes widened at the site of the huge blue cotton candy stick in front of her. It was killing me inside just knowing how much sugar was inside that cotton candy because I don't like it when she eats a lot of sugar! I just couldn't handle listening to her cry anymore!
As she reached for it, I asked "are you going to stop crying and make sure there's not going to be a lot more accidents from now on?" She said "I promise daddy!" I passed it to her and scooped her up into my arms. I said "I'm so proud of you AJ! I don't know why you were so upset! I want you to know that you'll always be daddy's baby girl; no matter what!" I never thought this would be as difficult as it has been! I hope I didn't bite off more than I can chew by adding another baby on top of AJ and her behavioral issues! I'm glad I don't have to deal with what I just had to deal with for at least a few more years after Prince is born!"
The phone rang and I heard Debbie's voice on the other end say "Michael; my water just broke!"
TO BE CONTINUED :-)