Tag Archives: Dad

If I Could Be Half The Man You Are!

a tribute to my granddad…

One of my biggest regrets I have in life is not standing up and making a speech at the 50th wedding anniversary of my grandmother and grandfather. You might say that’s not such a big deal, well it is for me. I mean c’mon, 50 Years! The Golden Anniversary, it’s actually quite a big deal in and of itself but the fact this is the matriarch and patriarch of our tribe celebrating a half-century of togetherness is absolutely mega. It’s what I aspire to achieve and my grandfather is the man I most model myself after, at least from a family man and an “I can do anything I put my hands to” standpoint. My first real-life superhero, he who could do no wrong.

A few weeks after having written this title and deciding that I wanted to write about my grandfather I was sitting down having a conversation with one of my female cousins who made me question my admiration for him. Maybe I’m reaching when I say “question” my admiration but she did paint a different picture of my grandfather than the one I hold in my mind or at least made me look at him from a different angle than the one currently held. Maybe it’s the great male vs. female,  Mars vs. Venus conundrum, who knows the picture that she saw when she thought of our grandfather. That’s basically what we live with when it comes to people who we do not see and interact with on a constant basis. People who were there throughout your childhood, they leave imprints on your mind, images that you hold of them. It made me realize that I may see him in a totally different light than she does and the negatives that she mentioned were not noticeable to me as I admired his positives or at least what I deemed to be positives. It made me think though, these same negatives may be present in me and I am blind to them in myself in the same way that I was blind to them with my grandfather, what’s the picture that I am painting my son, what’s the indelible image that I’ll be leaving him with, will he aspire to be just like me.

The greatest weakness of most humans is their hesitancy to tell others how much they love them while they’re still alive.

  • Orlando A. Battista

You may wonder why I’ve even bothered to write about my grandfather, I mean what exactly does he add to this whole “awonderfulme” dynamic? Well, like I said he is the man that I’ve always looked up to, he is the man that I’ve always seen as a positive role model, but most importantly I want to let him know just how much he means to me while he is still alive. Yes, that old cliche “Cherish your loved ones while they are still alive” …it becomes kind of redundant after hearing it over and over but I think as you yourself get older and that generation two or three levels above your generation slowly and surely start dying off, it begins to resonate more with you.

Cherish your loved ones while they are still here – because that day will inevitably come when they’re not here. Immaturity, pride, and ego are often what separates us from really showing the people we love just how much we truly love them. Pride and ego are fleeting and come and go just like the wind, the presence of a person though, once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

Cherish your loved ones while they are still here… 

While writing this piece, sadly my grandfather passed away. He had taken ill and progressively his body was ravaged by his sickness. Thankfully I was able to travel to England to see him one last time and I also got the opportunity to bring my son and let him meet his great-grandfather. I told you earlier that I had regretted speaking at the wedding anniversary of my grandparents, well I was able to have a conversation with my grandfather on his deathbed. A conversation, the likes of which we had never previously shared and for the first time in my existence I actually told him that I loved him. I’m sure he always knew that I loved and respected him but I had never said the words. I sit and think about that talk and wonder how it is that we never had these types of conversations up until that moment. I’m sure it’s because I had left England at a time when I wasn’t as mature as I am now and did not really see life as I see it now. I did not fully comprehend the wealth of life knowledge that exists in the mind of our elders, the world as they saw it and how they see it now. The sacrifices that they made for us to be able to see a life maybe better than the ones they had lived. They would always say it, sometimes in passing and sometimes when explaining why you needed to turn off the water while brushing your teeth. You know,  the typical things you might hear a parent or grandparent telling their kids.

All that being said, take time out to let your loved ones know that you love them, guaranteed is the day that one of you will no longer be here to say it.

This was one of daddy’s favorite tunes….

What Would You Do?

TGIF! Thank God It’s Friday, time to get off work and enjoy some cocktails during a much needed happy hour. Yeah right! Not with a 3 year-old it at home it isn’t. Long gone are those days of leaving work and hightailing it to a bar on a whim,  to unwind and enjoy some libations. My preferred destination nowadays is homeward bound and to be perfectly honest with you, I am just fine with that.

So lets’s start this again then. TGIF! Thank God It’s Friday, the little guy has enjoyed his movie(Friday is his movie night) and is now fast asleep and we’re sat here watching the TV show “What Would You Do?” For those of you not familiar with the show, here is the wikipedia description –

“The program features actors acting out scenes of conflict or illegal activity in public settings while hidden cameras record the scene, and the focus is on whether or not bystanders intervene, and how. Variations are also usually included, such as changing the genders, the races or the clothing of the actors performing the scene, to see if bystanders react differently. Show host John Quiñones appears at the end of each scenario to interview bystanders and witnesses about their reactions.

As the experiment goes on, psychology professors, teachers, or club members watch and discuss the video with Quiñones, explaining and making inferences on the bystanders’ reactions.”

This particular episode featured a segment where a mother and son are in a toy store and the boy wanted to get a doll.

I actually wanted to write “and the boy wanted to get a girl’s doll” but feel somewhat conflicted actually typing out the words girl’s doll. That, in a nutshell is at the heart of the issue I raise here.

I myself have been in this very predicament multiple times already and I’m quite sure that I will be in this same predicament going forward. To be honest I haven’t always dealt with it in the way that I would hope to have been able to deal with it. We once went into a Walgreens and my little guy wanted a Minnie Mouse car. I promptly told him no and said we would be getting the Mickey Mouse car and made sure we left with the Mickey Mouse version. It’s happened again with the same suspects, Minnie and Mickey and once again I made sure that he left with the male. Perhaps it’s speaks more to my insecurities than to his choice of toy. Male, heterosexual, retired man about town; my son is not playing with a girls toy. I’m not quite sure, I do realize though that it’s instinctual, almost reflex, son wants “girl” toy, bait and switch with the male version.

Considering my age, background and being raised in the era when I was it would be natural for me to associate dolls, specifically Barbie type dolls with being a girl’s toy. My(Our) biggest argument has always been whether there were enough “Afrocentric” dolls for our daughters to play with, never mind having to worry about your son wanting one. Hell, Action Man was white too come to think of it, but I wasn’t much of an action figure type of kid growing up. Obviously the world has changed quite a bit since my childhood days but have we changed for the better, have we changed for the worse, have we just changed for the sake of change. Or is it that this has always been our world, it’s just that we get to see the whole now as opposed to our previous limited view, due to this digital age.

When it comes to our children and how we raise them,  specifically concerning the boy/girl axis and the values we should instill it can often times be a bit much. There’s that gray area between personal opinion and being politically correct, that gray area between being gender bias and non-gender bias, that gray area between the values that I was raised with and the world that we are/I am raising my son in. It’s a joint effort but going forward let’s stick with the dad’s perspective as I’m the one currently typing on this keyboard.  Anyway going back to the points I raised earlier, it is not my job to be politically correct when it comes to how I raise my son but at the same time there’s an obligation to raise him in order to assimilate with modern society. Not that I want or need him to “fit-in” per se but I also don’t want him to be ostracized because of a belief system that I may have subjected him to and essentially trained him to follow. Think about it, you’re almost treated like a pariah nowadays for wanting to raise your kids with old-fashioned values and to be honest they are just that, “old-fashioned”. The world is constantly changing, we are continually evolving. Maybe it’s time to get with the program. Maybe it’s time I get with the program.

One of the things about becoming a parent is that you are quite literally forced to look at the world differently. You are somewhat in control of a life that came into the world through you.  You realize that you will almost always force your belief system onto your kids. It’s pretty much impossible not to,  but is it the right thing to do? I challenge myself constantly to be “present” and by that I don’t mean just showing up when needed. I mean when I am home with my son, that I am present. This means free from distractions, the cellphone is in the corner, free from the cluttered mind that is left over from a day’s work, right here, right now, nothing else matters. It’s not always easy and trust me I often falter. At the same time, it’s in these moments of clarity that I realize that this little person is a reflection of me and my spouse. It’s the little things too, the mannerisms, the shouting, the gestures towards the dog. All the subtle ways that your child will model your behavior, oftentimes behavior that you are not even conscious of, the stuff that we often don’t see because we are running on autopilot. Let’s face it, if mummy and daddy are working a 9 to 5, you are running on auto-pilot the vast majority of the time.

What I love about this show is that it inspires thought, conversation and the periodic look in the mirror, some self reflection. It also shines a light on society and our collective psyche. It’s a snapshot into our biases or lack thereof, be it cultural, gender or race related. There’s probably a lot of people as now adults who believe in something just because it was taught to them by their parents not necessarily because that is what they themselves believe. I aspire to raise my little guy with an open mind and will try not to project my belief system onto him, a question to you is What Would You Do?

Dance with my Father, Period!

As a young man there were times I’d cry myself to sleep at night thinking about my father and the fact that he didn’t want me. I mean he obviously didn’t want me right? If he did he would have been in my life. All my friends had their dads bringing them to football, showing up for Sports day and teaching them to drive, why not mine?

Growing up without a father was not a choice, well it was a choice but it wasn’t my choice. Growing up without a father is a burden that one must carry throughout their entire life and it can either be a burden so heavy that it weighs on one to the extent that it consumes them or it can be a burden so heavy that it inspires and uplifts them to strive for greatness. Me! I chose the latter. Although it can take time to come to that realization and you better hope that a teenage mistake does not lead to a life of misery

As a now mature man I look back on my youth and realize that I was first and foremost lucky to have had the mother that I have, a strong black woman. I was also lucky to have had the grandparents that I have and to this day my granddad to me, is the greatest man that ever lived, but I digress. Lucky that when I did go astray during my teenage years I didn’t get into the kind of trouble that could have really set me back in life. That’s not to say that this is all due to not having a father in my life as there are many boys that do have father’s in their lives that still do and will go astray but the odds are in your favor if daddy is around.

See, there are so many things that a child will miss out on without a father in their lives, young men especially. A mother can try her best but will never replace the male perspective. How to deal with conflict, how to treat a woman, how to show emotion and many more things that youths to teens to young men go through. The simple things that we some times take for granted but are missing from so many young males lives. A simple “well done son” so much power in 3 little words, all the more powerful by omission. With the male influence missing from their home life they have no choice but to seek it from outside sources and who’s to say that this influence will be the most wholesome.

Personally there’s a feeling that I experience whenever I think about my son or someone asks me how he’s doing. A feeling that I can’t explain in words, it’s an emotion unlike no other. I’m sure there are parents out there that understand what I’m talking about and as such it makes it that much harder to understand why some men will not stand up and be fathers to their children. There’s a saying “to each their own” but technically if you are the one that planted the seed then this is your own. As a father I try to remember to tell my son at every opportunity that I love him. I love him for who he is but I also love him for breathing new life into me and creating a desire to be the best possible person that I can be so I can show him someone to be proud of and aspire to be. In a weird way though there is a part of me that is thankful that I lived an experience of not having my father around. As becoming a father now myself, it lets me realize just how special I want to be for my son.

Unfortunately my own father is no longer with us but if he were here today I know he would be proud of the man I have become. Not having him in my life throughout my formative years and having reestablished contact in my 20’s I knew who he was and I knew that he was a good man, maybe I came at a time when he wasn’t ready for fatherhood, maybe there were other factors involved that didn’t allow him to be in my life. To be honest with you I will never know the full truth, I do know however that without even knowing it he taught me something invaluable and that is that fatherhood is to cherished.

This is something that I would want for all men who at some point in time have had relations that have led to a child being born. I therefore leave you with one thought, if you are a man who is not in your child’s life. Those of you who grew up with a father, could you imagine for one second that he had never existed? Or those of you like me, can you remember what it felt like not having a father? I certainly do, as there is one regret that I will always have in this life and that is that I never got to Dance with My Father, Period!