I admit when Gabrielle was born, we didn’t make that father/daughter connection right away. We were more like the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s. We just fussed at one another a lot. LOL – Seriously!
When Gabi was a baby, the only two people she wanted were her momma and great-grandmother. Anytime I tried to pick her up or play with her she would have a fit and just cry! For a while after my feelings got hurt enough I would just be like, “Fine! Whatever! Go to your momma then!”
Fortunately, as time went on we found our niche. She wanted her mother for nurturing. But I was the cool dad that had all the fun make up games. Gabbi and I were always good at that. For instance one of our favorite games was called, “Tickle Monster.” This is how it works:
I (dad) am the tickle monster and I pretend as if i am asleep. Gabrielle has the freedom to say anything she likes without disturbing the monster. But if she says the word ‘tickle,’ immediately the tickle monster wakes up to see “who said tickle?” After that the tickle monster tickles her ferociously and says things like, “MMMM tickle monster tickles you – tickles me tickles everyone I see!” This goes on until she says the magic words, “Stop, please.” At that time the tickle monster slowly falls still back asleep. We repeat this about 10 times till I get bored and we need to do something else to keep up the excitement.
Gabrielle is really a sweet child. She is very caring about others and very sensitive towards other’s needs. Since she is my 5th child she has the benefit (or not so much the benefit) of getting the most experienced part of my parental experience. On one hand I can tell her right away all about peer pressure and how she needs to compartmentalize the other school girls in her life by understanding who is a friend and who is not. On the other I am far less tolerable when she doesn’t stand up for what is right especially as it relates to her own welfare.
One evening she called me as I was about to start to officiate a basketball game. She was crying about how she hurt herself doing something called a “cannonball.” I forget all the specifics, but basically some girl picks her up and tosses her through some contraption they made up. Gabrielle told me she didn’t want to do it and knew it wasn’t right but allowed them to talk her into it because she wanted to fit in. After she finished the story I told her, “You lost me after you said you knew you didn’t want to do it and you knew it wasn’t right, but you did it anyway.” Then I reminded her that in life she has to learn to be a good leader as well as a good follower. “If a peer is doing something good then by all means follow that example. If not then you have to be strong enough to lead from within. Get this lesson now! You don’t have the luxury to wait till you’re 25 to learn what I am telling you! The sooner you figure the peer pressure/leader/follow principles and live by them the better. And don’t you ever call me crying about doing something you knew you didn’t want to do in the first place but did cause somebody else said to do so!”
Gabbi got the message. I didn’t want to be so rough on her. But I thought I had better leverage my daddy influence to where she felt it was more important to please me than her misguided peers.
Nowadays, Gabbi and I have a great relationship. She loves to hang out with me in the local gyms when I do basketball officiating and she recently attended the first baseball game I had the privilege of umpiring. Of course she didn’t pay any attention to me till she got hungry. Instead she did what she usually does. She made friends of strangers quickly and found other girls her age to play with on the playground. (She’s 12 what are you gonna do?)
Gabrielle has a bright future ahead of her. One of her best qualities is that she is tremendously courageous and even through tears and trembling will confront issues that can be hurtful and hard to deal with. Equally charming is her sense of humor. I have to really stay on top of my game with this young lady. If she catches me slipping one bit or sounding old fashioned some old man jokes are sure to come flying out of her mouth with the quickness.
I am happy to say that she adores her dad as much as I adore her. She has her first dance recital in a couple weeks. I can’t wait!
** Thank you for reading about my wonderful children. I love them so much. From the beginning my goal in raising them has always been focused and centered upon seeing them as mature adults who contribute to society in a positive way. Every lesson, talk, form of discipline or adventure in fun is to instill in them a foundation of love and to know that they can live their dreams and be great achievers. My job has been to provide a space and a lab for them to grow into, make mistakes and learn. And to know that no matter how much I push them, I will always have their backs. Every child needs that. Cause trust me, the older folks time is shorter than ever. The time to create and sustain legacy is now. We create and sustain a lasting legacy of value most by what we invest in ourselves first and then into our children. One great generation to beget another.
May God bless all of our little ones.