I’m not sure at what point men become fathers. Is it when they learn the woman is pregnant, feeling the first kicks, or when the child is born? Nonetheless, many of us are lucky enough to have fathers who will stop at nothing to both give us the world and protect us from it. They teach us critical life skills, kill bugs, and are always a phone call away during any crisis. They show us the value of hard work, sacrifice, and strength. As I near the end of my 20s, my Daddy is still the best man I know. I’m his namesake and his favorite (let’s see how long it takes for my sister to refute), and he’s always been my superhero. Father’s Day has always been one of my favorites because he’s the best Daddy in the world. I wish all kids–big and small–could say the same. As we head into Father’s Day 2K17, I thought I’d share eight lessons I’ve learned from my Daddy:
I tell people all the time that I was my father’s shadow as a child. Where ever he went, I went. Anything he was doing, I did it too. I call this patience because I was so young it would’ve been easy to dismiss me to get things done. Instead, he’d take the time to involve me in what he was doing and teach me anything I showed interest in learning. He’s the kind of person who reads the instruction manual cover to cover for everything before getting started. Even though I’m calling this a lesson, I do not have his level of patience, lol.
One of my favorite things about my Daddy is that he is a Macgyver kind of guy. He’d fix anything broken, so much so that friends and neighbors call him to fix things too. I used to think he was ‘trained’ in these areas but I realized most times he’d just tinker until he found a solution. Anytime I have a problem, big or small, and at any hour, he’s the first person I call because he’s solution focused and will always find a way out. I got into my first car accident when I was living in Ohio by myself one year, and I totaled my car. I was screwed because it was my only way to get to around and I was there alone. I’m a pretty level-headed person in the face of a problem, but even I was freaking out. Just by telling him what looked to be wrong we were able to get the car to a scrap yard, get enough parts to get the car running and shipped home at no cost. He did all of this from Maryland over the phone. Would you believe we resurrected that car and I drove it for another two years? He is still my superhero.
How a Woman Should Be Treated
I understand should here is subjective but roll with it. First and foremost I grew up always seeing him treat my mother with the utmost respect and as his teammate. I’m not sure why this is so difficult for me to write about but it’s challenging to put into words. The respect and care always modeled for us with our mother is easily now a personal expectation. I think what I appreciate most though is the respect for our intelligence and skill and he always nurtured that. It was always important to him that we had the skills to take care of ourselves and I’ll always be grateful for those many lessons.
Tek It Easy
My Daddy is probably one of the most laid-back people I know. From my time with him and his stories from childhood and early adulthood I know he’s always been about living life to the fullest and not stressing yourself about things you can’t control. Like many Caribbean/African families, we love a good party and will watch the sun rise from the dance floor. He’s the kind of father who would ’embarrass’ me with his dancing (probably on purpose), but he didn’t care what anyone thought if we were having a good time. He always says you only get one life, to keep your health and enjoy it.
Black History & Pride
It’s no secret that there’s a lot of Black history that simply isn’t taught in school. I was fortunate enough to learn a lot at home from my father who is very proud to be a Black man. What was great about this was that it was Black history from all across the diaspora. I’m sure it’s no secret by now that we are a 100% Jamaican family, so learning about Black (as in the diaspora, not just America) from that perspective was unique. Because of this, I grew up loving Malcolm, learning about Haiti’s historic revolution, untold truths about Apartheid, and Castro’s support of the liberation of people of color around the world. It’s one of those things you don’t know the value of until later because a lot of those things I assumed everyone was taught. Planting those seeds of Black pride shielded me from a lot of the self-image and confidence issues that often plague our community. In addition to the history and pride, we were taught a sense of community. Our doctors, mechanics, dentists, etc. growing up were always Black and/or Caribbean and still are.
We argued regularly growing up. I don’t mean fights; I mean debates. There is always a topic on the floor in my house for debate on everything from relationships to politics to religion. No age minimum required. From a young age, we learned to think through and present a logical argument, no matter how crazy your idea was. I’ve always had deep conversations with him one on one, even as a young child, about serious things. It was good for me to process through my thoughts but also to gain his wisdom. We still chat like this. Sometimes until the wee hours of the morning.
In elementary school you choose an instrument to play in the 4th or 5th grade. My older brother who played the trombone encouraged me to play the clarinet and me looking up to him; I thought that was a good idea. Our father, on the other hand, kept telling me to play the violin. I remember thinking that was a terrible suggestion because I thought ‘classical’ music was boring and that the violin too would be boring. I also thought this recommendation was a result of his age or generation. This was before the development of ‘hip hop’ violinists. Of course, I chose the clarinet, played it for 2-3 months, and was bored to tears. It was far too easy for me. I left the woodwinds for the string instruments three months late. It was the perfect amount of challenge, and I was good at it. I loved playing the violin. I realized this was why he made the suggestion.
Similarly, growing up I was never the kind of kid who knew what they wanted to be when they grew up. I had a ton of interests though and was always really creative and artsy. So when I got to high school and had to declare a major, I went with art because it just made sense. When it was time for college, the idea of me being an art major made my parents nervous, and my father continued to tell me that I should be an engineer. He’s been telling me that all my life and I’ve always dismissed him because I was never good at math. In undergrad, I was an art major for one year before I switched into engineering. I got my masters in engineering two weeks ago. Isn’t life funny? I wonder if he’s secretly saying “I told you so.”
He’s responsible for these strengths because of the time I spent with him as a child fixing things, cutting tiles, and just overall being handy.
Earlier I mentioned how I wasn’t naturally good at math. I always found it so frustrating, but I thought math was a boy strength. Silly, I know. I remember struggling with homework and talking about what I ‘can’t’ do. He’d always say, “anything you see anybody else doing, you can do it too.” Of course, I couldn’t appreciate it then, but it’s been one of my little mantras to myself anytime I feel like I’m not smart enough, or capable of doing something. It’s the reason why sometimes I’m willing to just go for things and trust I’ll figure it out somehow.
I’ve seen this man start a business in his late 60s, so I have no excuse to let fear stop me.
see Related: 5 Lessons from my Mother
I wrote a similar post on Mother’s Day about my Mummy, and I’m going to say the same thing here because it applies. My Daddy is a ride or ride, and again, the absolute best man I know. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him simply because there’s nothing he hasn’t done for me. My father is present, involved, and overwhelmingly thorough. I’m thankful in part because sadly not every kid is this fortunate. Real talk. That’s why I’ve never had a problem sharing him. He’s been a father figure for far more children than he’s biologically responsible for. Understand that our parents aren’t perfect, but when they show up every day and do the best they can…be thankful they’re present. They shape so much of who we are.
As a closing note, I’d like to share an abundance of hugs to all of the fathers who’ve experienced loss. Whether you’ve lost a child to miscarriage, struggled with infertility, or lost a child you’ve raised in any capacity, I can only imagine the pain you’ve experienced and continue to endure. Similarly, to those with strained relationships, I hope you’re able to mend them if for nothing but your own peace. To those who have lost a father, I hope the memories of your loved ones absorb the sadness.
What are your favorite lessons from your father?