I write this piece to commemorate a little girl in Texas that I have only met through a skype session in which we booty bumped to Beyonce. I am absolutely in love with her. It is imperative that I let her know just how special she is, for her birth was a moment of conversion for her father…who was scared to his wits ends to raise a girl. And he is not the only one, I have lost count of the many men I have heard utter the words “I would hate to raise a daughter” to which I only have to say…You are too grown for Pampers and it is time for the boxer briefs, Big Boy Style.
My father, too, had a challenge in raising his little girl. She was a curious soul, energetic, and constantly around boys. My family is first generation in the United States and my father was lucky enough to have the female breeding sperm before my aunts and uncles could reproduce them. All in all, it was an experiment raising me and with no female cousins to back me up my father and I had hella fun deciding whether or not I’d go to prom with my cousin or if a brand new car was enough to bribe me to stay home and drive to the nearby Rutgers, instead of choosing the far Rutgers where I would dorm on a Co-ed floor. All of the above are true stories of my life to which my pop had to learn some things: trust being the most important. He learned to put his faith in the fact that he was doing the best he could as a parent, and any mistake that I made he would be there to do exactly what I needed him to… parent. As an adult I continue to work to maintain this unspoken trust because more than growing our relationship as father and daughter I wanted him to believe in himself and the work he had done thus far.
I am his only girl amongst three sons and I was allowed to inherit his foul mouth after the age of 21. He sees himself in me and I share the same pride with him. My father is a jovial spirit and he is never mean to me, even though he is capable of being really mean to people. The trick is to be kind to your daughters, so she can approach you with the ease she approaches mom. The moments my dad has tried to correct me with an attitude or an aggressive stance has never worked. I didn’t get hit (except for that one time to which I threatened to run away and stayed downstairs at my grandmothers for the night) and I was obsessed with receiving and giving him hugs. He knows himself well and has learned to get to know my evolving personality along the way. He always tries to talk to me after he has taken his time mulling over the thoughts and thinking of the right words to say. He wants me to listen, and I always have because he takes the time to listen to me. It’s the way he shows he respects me.
He was a bonafide gentleman from the minute I was born, and it was his goal to show me just how well I deserved to be treated by a man. If men are mad I have standards that are too high for their liking, I suggest they take that issue up with my pop. He showed me wild amounts of love and rarely yelled at me. Needless to say, I don’t respond well to loud and aggressive men.
At some point I would have to live my life as I saw fit. I wasn’t as sheltered as most girls I knew. In high school I had a natural curfew of “whenever we drop my friend Meli home” because her parents did the work for mine, and my dad always waited up for me on the couch, even when my mom went to bed. I had my first boyfriend at the age of 16 and I remember the day I had to tell my father he existed. He didn’t offer me a huge smile and dinner to celebrate, but he said “okay” for we had agreed 2 weeks before my birthday that 16 was an appropriate age to start getting to know boys and I could bring him home so they could meet. He set it up so I would feel comfortable. I can honestly say I don’t recall ever having to make up a lie to protect my father, he could pretty much handle everything his crazy daughter brought his way. Whether or not my boyfriends could handle whatever craziness he brought their way on that first meeting was always interesting for me to see.
At 22 I fell in love and my father did not pretend he didn’t know. He was mindful of the nights I was upset, I’m sure of it, because on one of those nights he took me to dinner by the waterfront and we split a bottle of champagne. I came home that night clear headed and handled my situation way better than I would have before that dinner. Smart man he was, he handled the boyfriend through his daughter instead of for his daughter.
He obviously didn’t do this on his own, I think my mom always clued him in to my girl issues, but when it came to raising his kids he knew how to work well with his partner.
My dad once had to deal with his daughter’s life being threatened at the hand of an armed robber. We don’t live in a perfect neighborhood but my dad taught me this was home. My father didn’t panic or run around the block looking to attack the man who thankfully ended up walking away from me. I was 21 and although I was expecting to hear “you should have known better,” I got a more sympathetic reaction to which he taught me to be more forgiving of the man who committed the crime…I have been more blessed than he. That was the first lesson I got in forgiving my neighborhood, and it didn’t instill fear… it instilled humility and practice of instinct. I could have gotten a boastful version of my father, who was upset and only displacing his anger on me. I was not detained in my house or sheltered more after that, but we did develop a texting system for when I would be out late.
He let me cherish my independence and reminded me he will always remain the helping hand when “shit happens.” That is just the way life goes.
He never held me back from making a decision I was sure about…much like that summer before I started college.
He was scared when he needed to be, but taught me I could tell him the truth, always.
He respectfully teaches me to believe in love because there are good men.
He has never in my life told me I look ugly (unless I look really pretty).
He thought things like Daddy-Daughter Prom were more important than working the extra hours at work.
(Most adorable thing about going to an All-girls high school)
He taught me to eat my steak medium to have a really good time, & shares a glass of white wine with me weekly.
He shares my love of music & jokes.
We are one in the same when it comes to dedicating our selves to our work and the people around us.
My Pop, known to you as Don Chulo, is the greatest. Here are some of his tricks to raising this Chula successfully.
❤ Mary B.