Daddy, Daughter, and Transitions

I’ve always looked forward to my children being adults.  That’s what I train them for.  In everything I do I do it with the purpose of seeing them be free and successful as adults. 

I also look forward to relating to them as adults.  Sharing secrets and grown folk talk.  Respecting them for being adults while still bonding with them on this new level.

For the first time such the occasion happened over the weekend.  My daughter and I got to hang out as adults.  And it was beautiful.

I have so much respect for her as she is extremely both mature and free.  A wife and a mother, she is so far ahead of where I was at her age.   She is wise and sure about herself in ways that amaze me.

Through this transition in our relationship I am also understanding a new how much she loves me and how protective she has always been of me.  What a blessing she is.  I tell you what:  All of my children are so special and they each hold their own special places within my soul.  The experience I had with her last night and the transition to the next level of our relationship is truly something every parent should be able to experience.

(Pictured: me and Chrystal)

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The Gift of Gab~

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 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.  

 

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Dancing, Goth, & Hot Topics

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When Chrystal was born I’ll never forget the first thing my mother said.  Upon seeing her complexion for the first time she exclaimed, “Finally!  One that looks like me!”  Chrystal is fair skinned like my mother and can often pass for Caucasian.  She is right.  There have been times they have been together and people thought Chrystal was my mom’s daughter instead of her granddaughter. 

Chrystal grew up trying everything.  She was the first to do tee ball, and soccer.  Every weekend she had some activity going on.  But what she really enjoyed and committed to was dancing.

I remember her first performance.  It was an all weekend thing and I picked the Saturday afternoon show.  I was probably more excited than she was.  Anyway, the program lasted a couple hours and Chrystal had like 3 to 5 spots.  After the show all of the dancers met with their parents, relatives and other supporters who would dote on them with many congratulations and compliments.  I waited patiently and knew she would be so excited to see dear ole dad and I couldn’t wait to shower her with praise.  Finally our eyes met and there she went!  “Daddy!  Daddy!  Where are my flowers?”  “Uhhhhh, what flowers I said.”  I noticed that other people had flowers in their hands but didn’t think much of it.  Nice gesture if anything.  I had no idea that bringing flowers to a performance and presenting them afterwards was proper protocol.  “I’m soooooooo sorry baby.  Daddy didn’t know that I was supposed to bring flowers.”  Chrystal was always a cool little girl.  Nice, pleasant, forgiving.  She would pardon the old man you’d think.  Her response?  “Waaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!”  She burst into tears totally heartbroken and disgusted at my utter ignorance.  She went straight for her grandpa and didn’t want to look at me.  I felt like the scum of the earth pretty much.  Yep!  That’s how I felt alright.  Needless to say I never showed up at another performance without flowers. 

What I appreciate about Chrystal was her willingness to be herself which was often different from the norm.  She has always been into exotic art, goth and other less than mainstream items.  She got me hip to the Hot Topic clothing store because there was a time she wouldn’t go any other place to shop.  She came home with gay friends 6-7 years ago.  Some of her friends appeared to be social rejects looking from the outside.  And they all seemed to love and adore her.  She has always been a very loving, non judgmental person.  If a friend of hers fell out with their parents and needed a place to stay for a while, she always brought them home and asked if they could be granted temporary asylum.

Chrystal was the kind of youth that did her own thing.  She rocks plenty of body art but is savvy enough to keep her tats from common sight.  For a while it didn’t seem like she felt the need for her dad as much.  Now that she is married and has a son, it seems that we’ve become closer than ever before.  We talk about most everything and I am still often surprised by her boldness.  

I took her and her husband Justin to one of our favorite breakfast spots the other day.  We met there once and now she’s hooked.  She’s been on me lately to take them back there lately.  “Look dad, me and Justin will pick you up and you pay!”  Finally I conceded to the deal, a sucker’s bet.  But taking life as it is she brought along a friend of her’s who was having a hard go of it these days.  She wanted to give her some support by treating her to breakfast.  “You don’t have to pay for her dad, we’ll pay for her meal.” 

Right!  Like I wasn’t going to cover that. 

But that’s Chrystal.  Always looking out for her fellow man.  I so appreciate her for that. 

Currently she is school to be a surgical assistant.  I am not surprised.  Of course she would pick an industry of service and helps.  

And yes she still dances.  She has a show coming up in June.  And married or not, I’m still bringing flowers.

 

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1st Born, Daddy’s Little Girl

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It happened late one night July 2.  The fourth of July fell on the weekend.  But my little treat was all I could think of.  My first memory of Charelle being born was the first time I had a few moments with her shortly after birth.  I was the only one in the hallway and most of the lights were off.  I was holding her and looking into her eyes, glancing over every part of her face.  She was all bundled up but I already knew she had all her fingers and toes.  What was strange was that as I stared at her she seemed to stare back at me.  Right back at me.  I know kids aren’t supposed to be able to see.  I’m not saying she recognized me or anything.  But it seemed as if she knew exactly who I was.  And all I kept thinking to myself was, “I can’t believe it.  I can’t believe it.  I have a daughter.” 

This wasn’t the, “Oh hell naw!” I can’t believe it going through my head.  I had been married a little over two years and wanted this child badly.  I even wanted a little girl on top of that.  And there she was.  I don’t quite remember what I said to her, but she kept looking at me and I think we both fell in love on the spot.  I was practically in a daze the entire 4th of July weekend.

The next memories were when she would sleep in her playpin.  We only had a one bedroom townhouse so she was there on the other side of the room.  She was an early riser and wanted to play immediately.  Before she could walk she would stand herself up on the railing and look at the direction of the bed.  If no one looked her way she would shake the playpen and try to talk.  I learned not to move and pretend as if I were sleeping because if she made eye contact, it was a wrap.  She would crack up in hysterical laughter and demand that I get her out of the playpen so we could play. 

Sometimes I would have to put her to sleep on the real bed.  Not only that, I’d have to lay there like I was sleeping too.   I would wait and wait for her to be still hoping she would fall asleep so I could watch the game or whatever.  She would put her arm around my neck.  Slowly I’d back away gently dislodging her arm from around me.  And soon as I got out of the bed, QUICK in an instant her head would bop up like it came out of a jack in the box and look at me.  I’d have to start all over again as she was hip to my game.  Sometimes it actually worked and before I knew it, I would be the one sleeping first.

Charelle grew up to be a brilliant student.  She was always in honor’s classes.  During parent teacher conference, it got to the point where the teachers would just say, “I don’t need to talk to you.  You know the deal.”  She also displayed great creativity in writing poems and drawing pictures.  I’ll never forget when she made paper dolls and cut out outfits for them.  They were so awesome they could pass for Vogue.  I’ve always complimented her on how she amazed me.  But too often she would just look at me and say, “Daddi you’re supposed to say that.”  “No no,” I’d say.  “I really mean it.  You are amazing!”

These days Charelle is growing into womanhood quite well.  She is a loving and devoted mother to her family which now includes two beautiful children.  I am very proud of her.  We have grown folks conversations now.  But she will always be my baby, my first born, my little girl.

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