I sat and watched with apt attention to see what was going to unfold between these two. Oh, it was really nothing sinister, rather more intriguing than the latter. It was the interaction between Daniel and Bibi. You see Daniel is my friend, we have been friends from when we were young men without a care in the world. In that time and at the stage we were at, I would say Daniel had done rather well for himself and as such decided to ‘settle down’ and get married. Bibi, on the other hand, is Daniel’s 4-year-old, the product of the aforementioned marriage.
The scene I was watching with great intense (some might consider this as mundane) was the feeding ritual. I call it a ritual because having witnessed these two over a period of time, I began to see that there was a pattern that was emerging in the relationship that existed between Daniel and his 4-year-old daughter. I discovered that there always seemed to be a negotiation going on between the two of them and of course at the end of the negotiations, I find that Daniel almost always gives in and does what Bibi wanted. Needless to say, seeing this often gave me pause for thought as I began to think if I could be that way with my children when they eventually come? This was a concern for me as growing up in a house with 6 (six) other siblings, I cannot remember having this kind of relationship with my father and I began to wonder if I would be the same way my Dad was with me (acknowledging that I exist and that I had needs to be met and as such he had to go out to work and provide for those needs) or would I be more like Daniel and be fully involved not just in providing the material needs of my children but also treating them as little people that can be heard, not just seen. I resolved then that I would be like Daniel and would let my wife provide the ‘soft and fluffy’ parts of existence for my future children. This was thirteen years (13) ago.
Today, I have an 11-year-old daughter. I know almost any Dad would say this about their children – an age-old cliché, but I would literally do anything for my little girl (she doesn’t like it when I refer to her that way, says she’s a big girl now). Needless to say, that my resolve of being a bit off-handed when it comes to providing the emotional support for her went out the window from the moment she first called me ‘Dada’, her first words (my wife wasn’t well pleased with this since she seemed to spend more time with her when she was a baby).
There’s nothing that prepares you for the absolute rush of emotions when you hear that word ‘Dada’ and this is accompanied by a smile that is reserved for none other than you.
From that day to date, I can say that most of the resolve and preconceptions I had from being one of seven children growing up have evaporated completely. Being a Dad is one of those things that you experience and sometimes you wish there was a manual you could refer to that would clearly define a path for you to follow when issues arise, like what to do when a your child comes home and says that they have been exempted from a play activity, what to do when your child they would not eat the meal that has been prepared (and you know that you cannot afford to make something else right now), what to do when your child says they are bored and you know that you would rather have them read a book than have them disturb your ‘me time’? Having been through all of these (and still going through them), I would not trade the opportunity of being able to tell my daughter that she’s the smartest 11-year-old I know. I would not trade the feeling I had when I overheard her saying that I was ‘magic’ just because I gave her a Gold chocolate coin (hidden in my jacket). I would not trade what I felt when she said to me “Daddy, I would make you really proud with my results from SAT”. I would not trade what I feel when she says that she’s so happy to see me when I return from a trip.
Being a Dad is one of those things that you experience and sometimes you wish there was a manual you could refer to that would clearly define a path for you to follow when issues arise,
I would not come here and pretend as though it is always nice and rosy, not at all! There are times that she can be disagreeable and these to me are teachable moments where I draw the line and let her know that as much as we have a good relationship, I am her “Dad” first before I am her friend. These moments say I can be fun but firm, and I wish again that I had a manual! And now I have a better understanding of the dynamics of the relationship between Daniel and Bibi as I have lived through a similar experience with my little girl.
I would end with another cliché; any male can be a father but it takes a special kind of man to be a Dad. Happy fathers’ day to all Dads. For all the things you do that you think are not appreciated, they do matter and make a difference in the lives of the next generation.