I’m always writing about my kids. They’re pretty fantastic little humans. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be able to celebrate today as a father. (Go figure.) Instead of blathering on about my children (again) I’d like to share a single story about my father today.
My father was a hard worker. He put in long hours at the office, and in his free time he went golfing. He was transferred from city to city- so he uprooted his family every few years. Providing an income and a home for his wife and kids was about the extent of his fatherly duties. In his mind, that was his only responsibilities when it came to raising my sister and I.
“FATHER OF THE YEAR”
Years ago, we lived in Edmonton near a couple of large dirt hills. In the winter, the neighborhood kids would drag their sleds over and we spent hours speeding down the hills. In the summer, we spent hours riding our BMX bikes down.
I was five years old the first summer we lived there. A group of us walked our bikes to the top ofthe hill. The other kids took turns riding down. That side of the dirt hill had a smooth, gradual slope. Each of them went a couple of times before realizing I was still at the top with my bike. I stood with my bike between my legs and was terrified to try riding down the hill. Then the peer pressure and taunting began.
I started to walk backwards with my bike wishing to crawl into a corner. I wasn’t ready to be a daredevil and race down that hill. I was so scared, I just wanted to go home. I was still walking backwards and turned away from the other boys quickly. Soon I was heading straight down the backside of the dirt hill. My feet dragged behind me trying to slow myself down. I gripped the handlebars with all my might and tried to steer. About halfway down- I lost control.
The bottom of the hill hit me fast. Bloody and bruised, I picked up my bike and hobbled towards my backyard. From the top of the hill the other kids were screaming out my name, but I didn’t turn around. My goal was to get home. I needed my mommy. I was nearly at our gate when my father burst out of the kitchen and down the porch stairs. I saw him and that’s when I began to cry. I dropped my bike and ran to him with my arms spread out.
I’d love to tell you that he lifted me up and hugged me. That he held me tight and whispered that everything was ok. It would be a fantastic end to a horrible experience for a battered and bruised child. I’m crying as I write this- because that never happened.
He grabbed my little arm with great force and spun me around throwing me back at my bike. He made me pick up the bike. He grabbed my arm again and dragged me and the bike back to our home. As I sobbed he hurled insults at me. I struggled to break free from his hand, but his grip was firm. We got to our home and he finally let me go. I ran and hid in the bathroom, terrified of what would happen next. An eternity must have passed. I finally gained control over my breathing and looked at myself in the mirror. Fat lip and bruises on my cheek. All covered in a mix of blood, dirt and the tears of a scared little boy. Thanks dad for being there.
To this day, I refer to my dad as an asshole, because that’s how I remember him. Everyone else thought he was the funniest, nicest guy around. He was dark and regretted having children. Trust me- he told me enough times.
He died before I married and had children of my own. From his parenting, I take from him many things. Like how to cook, do home repairs, and drink beer. From his lack of parenting skills I vowed to be there 100% for my children. I made promises to never miss a birthday or a special event. Work would never come between me and watching my children succeed. Anger would never keep me from pausing for a moment to listen to my children and hug them when they need it.
In my eyes- I’m the better father than he ever could have been. He’s been dead for over fifteen years. But the memories of a frightened child, thirty five years ago, will never forget him.