However, the other side of the equation is that G doesn't seem to feel the absence of "male figures" in her life, or to have any interest in seeking them out. I've heard that girls whose fathers aren't around will often cling to any man who crosses their path, sometimes inappropriately, but G regards my male friends with suspicion and appears horrified when her friend C's big, bluff, friendly dad tries to tease and joke around with her. I know she remembers P, mostly from reading her school assignments, but I can't see any sign that she misses his presence from day to day*. After four years**, "normal" to her is the two of us together; she likes our life the way it is (that much, she's told me directly), and while she'd probably rather not have to explain her situation every time she meets someone new -- "Yes, I live with just my mom. No, my parents aren't divorced; my dad died." -- I don't think she sees it as lacking anything.
All that said, the fact that people even ask the question makes me wonder if I'm missing something, and G is secretly starving for some sort of male influence. But all I know is that from what I see -- and I spend enough time with her to see a lot -- she is a supremely, almost eerily well-adjusted kid. If you met her in real life, you would never know she'd suffered a loss unless she told you: she has plenty of friends and does well in school and is absolutely brimming with self-esteem that borders on cockiness. She's not the bubbly, outgoing type and tends to be reserved around people she doesn't know well (but once she does know you well and feels comfortable, prepare to have your ear talked off), but she's been that way since long before P died. I think it's just her nature, as it is mine.
I guess if she grows up and starts attaching herself to skeevy boyfriends out of desperation for male approval, I'll know I was wrong and should have hooked her up with a Big Brother. I can't really see her going down that path, though. Even now, she's not very motivated by anyone's approval, be they male or female, adult or kid. She is who she is and she likes what she likes, and she doesn't seem to care much what anyone thinks about it. How she's managed to reach that point in 11 years when it took me almost 30 is a mystery, but one I'm grateful for.
*For me, not a day goes by when I don't think of