Father’s Day – A Tribute to My Father and My Daughter’s Father (aka my husband)

5 Comments

The relationship between daddies and daughters is so incredibly important.  It can raise a girl up to become an amazing and well-balanced woman, or it can crush a woman’s soul.  A girl’s daddy is her first love, whether he treats her well or not, and that has a huge impact on the rest of her life.

My Daddy is also a wonderful Grandpa

I am lucky to have an incredible Dad.  I think I’ve mentioned before that I was a total daddy’s girl growing up.  He played with me, nurtured my love of music and learning, read with me, and inspired my area of study in college.  I am like my father in so many ways; some that I’m thrilled about, like our love for social interaction and our tenderness for other people, and others that I could maybe do without, such as our mutual difficulty with memory and our struggle with budgeting both time and money. I have no experience with absentee or abusive fathering.  I have been nurtured and supported and protected by my father for my whole life.  Even when I didn’t like how he was protecting me (cue arrival of my Sweetie), I knew that’s what he was doing. I feel so incredibly fortunate.

In choosing a husband, I knew it was important to find someone who would be a good father.  My Sweetie denied vehemently, back when we first started dating, that he would be any sort of father, much less a good one.  But I knew better.  I couldn’t have described the exact traits he possessed that were going to make a great father out of him, but I trusted that they were there.  And I was right!

Surprise, you’re an awesome Dad!

It took some time for parenthood to become a priority in our life plan.  We both wanted to finish school, get started in a career, and be stable enough financially to know we’d have a roof over our heads before we brought another life into this world.  We had been together for 13 years (married for 7) before we started trying to conceive, and when the Bean showed up, we were completing our 15th year together.  Needless to say, having another person in the house who needed me more than he did was a shock to my Sweetie’s system.  Practicing parenthood on two cats and a dog had helped, but it’s totally different.  He rallied well and it took him no time at all to fall totally in love with our little alien (she really did look odd when she was born at 3 lbs, 13 oz – an adorable alien).

This is the Bean’s favourite way to fall asleep

Even before the Bean joined our family, my Sweetie was a conscientious provider and a devoted husband. The arrival of a baby girl only intensified that for him.  But the other thing it has done is soften him up…a lot!  I knew, when I decided to marry my Sweetie, that a baby girl would be the best option for our family, because there is no way he’d be able to resist being wrapped around her little finger.  Of course, that’s not something we could control, but God knew what he was doing by giving us a girl.

Picnic at the park – one of my Sweetie’s favourite things to do with family time.

I believe God also knew what He was doing giving us a child with Special Needs.  One of our greatest fears going into parenthood was the possibility of having a child with Special Needs.  Two couples we knew had recently become parents to children with Down’s Syndrome, and it especially terrified my Sweetie because he didn’t think he’d be able to handle the extra work and pressure.  But once again, he has exceeded his own expectations of himself, and is great at remembering to challenge the Bean at her level.  He rarely spends time with other children (he’s not really a kid guy), so he doesn’t have much to compare to.  He can just enjoy the Bean and her accomplishments without activating his competitive streak.

And my Sweetie sure does love his Bean.  He frequently tells me how much he misses her (and me of course) when he’s at work.  It’s hard for him to leave for so many hours every day, but he also loves his job and feels torn constantly.  I love him for that (among other things), and one of my favourite things to do is to watch my Sweetie and our Bean playing, laughing, and cuddling.  Bean brings out the SILLY in her father, and it’s so much fun.  He also rescues me from her when I’m feeling overwhelmed.  He provides a calm, positive presence when I feel like my sleep deprived, malnourished soul is about to implode.

I love watching my Sweetie grow as a father.  I love that he doesn’t feel like he’s doing a good enough job, because it means he’ll always try to be better.  But I need to tell you all a secret: he’s a fantastic father!  Just don’t tell him I told you.  I want him to keep striving for more. 😉

Advertisements

School Helped Me Learn About Life

8 Comments

The Assignment: Write a 500-1000 word essay about memories of your mother or childhood growing up.

My daughter recently started preschool, and this exciting milestone has me thinking about my own experience with school.  I loved school and I learned a lot of academically, but the moments that stick out most in my memory are not necessarily the pleasant, happy experiences: they are the experiences that taught me about life and about myself.

Noddy in his car

courtesy bbc.co.uk

Some of my earliest childhood memories occurred at school.  I went to Noddy Nursery School when I was three or four years old.  I clearly remember lying down on a mat for naptime every afternoon, and painting and colouring.  I remember playing outside with my friends and I’m pretty sure I got at least one skinned knee on the playground.  This early school experience taught me about following directions, getting along with my peers, and the value of a predictable schedule.  I’m still very good at following directions and getting along with people, but I tend to struggle a little with discipline and scheduling.

My first strong memory of Kindergarten was not as positive.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved Kindergarten; but there was one particular incident that haunts me.  One of the other children was being disruptive in class.  Our teacher had asked him several times to be quiet, and he kept acting up.  Finally, she yelled at him and sent him to the principal.  I was a sensitive kid, and was pretty sure that it was not a good idea to get yelled at in school.  I started crying.  I knew the teacher wasn’t angry at me, but I felt the embarrassment and fear of being  “in trouble” as if she had been shouting at me directly.  Memories of that feeling have stayed with me ever since, and I still do my best to avoid being “trouble” for others.

One of the few times I did misbehave in school was in grade 4.  I was outside in the corridor working on a school project with a classmate.  Our teacher had warned us that the privilege of working on our own outside required our solemn promise to stay there and focus on our work.  After working for a while, we heard noises coming from the auditorium.  Despite our promise to our teacher, curiosity won the battle and we went to investigate.  We were caught snooping around and lost our freedom to work outside.  I was mortified.  I wasn’t the type of kid who misbehaved, and I certainly didn’t want my teacher to think any less of me.  Once again, my foray into rebellion was quashed quickly and I returned to being a “good girl”.

world map

Our journey home from Botswana to BC in 1986

Grade 5 was another interesting experience for me; it was the year we moved back to Canada from Botswana.  In Botswana, the school year starts in January; we left Botswana in June, so I had already had 6 months of fifth grade before starting again in September.  The curriculum was quite different in my new school, but even so, I found that first year of school in Canada to be a breeze.  Making friends wasn’t too hard, and I’m pretty sure I was in the “cool kids” group.  The culture shock that so strongly affected my mother didn’t seem to bother me much.  In our move from Africa to North America, a pretty major shift, I learned that I adapt quite easily to change, and that I can adjust my behavior to help others feel comfortable with me.  My mother used to tell me that I would come home from playing at a friend’s house, and I would talk like that friend for a while before slowly reverting back to my own cadence and tone.  I was a social chameleon.

My admittance into the “cool kids” group didn’t last long, however.  In grade 6, a new student joined our class from another school and she was instantly disliked by my group of friends because she was different.  She was a year older than us and had failed a grade in school.  She was overweight, a little strange, and from a poor family; exactly the kind of hard luck case I have trouble resisting.  I was raised to be kind to everyone; Denise was lonely and needed some kindness.  I took her on as my friend, and was immediately dropped by my “best friends” as a social outcast.  Another quiet Indo-Canadian girl joined our crew and we were a threesome; totally inseparable.

I have some wonderful memories of hanging out with my new best friend, Denise.  She introduced me to the Monkees and we made up dance routines to Bangles songs.  When we joined the Jive Club after school, we were the two odd girls out, so we learned to Jive with each other, taking turns with the “boy” steps.  “Rockin’ Robin” will always bring back memories of dancing on the school stage with Denise.  These memories are important to me because they are the result of following my heart instead of what others thought was best.  I was true to my values, and that has been an important theme for my life.

My early memories of school are an integral part of my childhood.  School was important to me: it contributed strongly to my identity and self esteem, it was where I learned much about myself and others, and it was where I started to figure out how to interact with other kids my age.  In fact, I can’t reminisce about my childhood for very long before a school-based memory pops to mind.  Sure, I worked and played at home and out in my community, but a good portion of my childhood was spent at school, and it was a valuable experience.