A Father’s Memoir

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Sometimes I might discipline her, but with hope of her learning and growing. Sometimes I might yell at her, but with love. Sometimes she’ll shed tears and I have to hold my ground to be strong and embrace my disappointment, because that’s all I knew growing up with my father. My father was typical island man who did his best to provide for the family, but was always the disciplinarian. Now when I reminisce I just laugh; everything I tried to deviate from just became a lot more attractive now that I’m a father. Nevertheless, I’m grateful.

Maybe it’s a girl thing, but not even 5 minutes later after I yell or discipline her, my daughter responds with hugs and kisses. I can’t let her know how much that warms my heart…but she teaches me few things: short memory, patience and unconditional love. As badly as most parents want to always be the teacher, much satisfaction comes to know you will be a student as well. Children are no longer “to be seen and not heard,” we need to listen to them now more than ever

No matter how upset she will be after I cancel a night of playing because of her attitude, she has no problem going to sleep and waking up to a new day. The next morning everything is back to normal; no tears or long face, just as chipper as any other morning. What happened yesterday doesn’t impinge on what she can accomplish today, even if it’s playing later that day. She definitely learns from it, and uses it to her advantage to understand she has to be on good behavior. On days like those, she has mastered short memory.

I never realized how tough it is to teach the little things that are so important in life. That little thing could be reading.  Carrie is now 5, meaning she’s going to be transitioning to 1st grade soon, which is a lot of reading at night for homework. I don’t even remember how I actually learned how to read, been doing so long that it was just my innate nature like every other human. I caught myself yelling at her, after several attempts of reading a word (that I thought she should have known how to read by now). She started crying. Here we go, I thought. Until she softly said as she gasped for air, “I am trying.” This part is called patience. Although I thought I had patience, this stage of learning how to read taught me otherwise. The more we took our time pronouncing every sound of the letter, the easier it became. Just like that, patience was the lost key to getting her to comprehend.

After I canceled something fun or yelled at her, it was always her arms that opened up first for a hug. A lot can call it manipulation, but it is the purest form of unconditional love. How could I be this mean dad, but still be her everything? Randomly, she will always find an opportunity to explain why she loves me. It could be a toy from weeks ago she received and she followed her thankfulness with “I love you.” Even on the nights I send her to bed early, she bear- hugs me as the usual routine with a goodnight kiss consistently followed by “I love you.” If I had any to define unconditional love, it would have her name right next to it.

When I discipline her, I must remember to let her know why I’m doing it and I should not let it deter our goal. When I yell, I must be reminded that patience is what’s going to help us both grow. If I am ever upset or disappointed, it’s because of my expectations but I know I’ll always love her same. In our daily lives, let us be reminded that short memory, patience and unconditional love are all part of the recipe to a happy life.

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