Son that Dad is lucky to have


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Category: Children/Teenagers Date: 17 Jun 01

Dear Son,


There wouldn’t be a Father’s day without you. On the day you were born (one sunny afternoon, in Port-of-Spain General Hospital, when the West Indies was, uncharacteristically, I am convinced, in celebration of your arrival, dealing up Australia in a cricket match) I was overwhelmed.


I was in awe that this perfectly formed creature came out of your mother’s belly, and that I had more than something to do with it! I may have been a bit jealous at being ousted as the man of the house by your mother’s immediate adoration for and absorption by you, but mostly, I was so puffed up with pride that I could barely make it out of the door.


I remember racing to the Oval to proclaim your arrival to the world, shouting to anyone who would listen over the roar of the crowds, “I have a son now, my boy, my son, who is an extension of my grandfathers and his and my fathers.” I felt as if I had personally vaulted the highest peaks in the world to deserve you. You would be everything I never was, achieve all I had not and more and more and more.


In your early years, I was delighted at all your little miracles. The first time you walked, the day you said Da-da, the day you held a bat for the first time. But it seemed natural that your mother would take over your day-to-day needs, from changing your diapers to preparing your lunch kits and supervising homework, to sounding like a broken record  repeatedly asking you to pick things up, help around the house, and then, to keep your music down, speak in sentences, don’t swear.


Of course, I put my foot down several times, like after the time you totalled our new car and the time you drank yourself sick the day you turned 18. I hammered you, and told you our house was not a hotel, that you should either obey the rules of the house or get out. I remember when you turned on your heel and left, for God knows where, for the night with the chilling words, “Well, you use the house as a hotel. You are never home either.”


It came apart the day I tried to give you a cut-tail for punching your sister in the stomach during an argument, and you, now stronger than me, restrained me and said coolly, “How come you never have a problem hitting Mom, you bully?”


After that we came to a dodgy truce. I desperately wanted you to go to university, (not, to my regret, paying attention to your sister, who needs to be more independent than you do because she’s supporting two children on her own) but by then you were already far out of the influence of my authority.


It is only now, in my old age, and I am seeing how successful you are, how you decided at age 40 to go for your MBA, how you share all areas of child-rearing with your wife, from the time you held her hand during the delivery of your children. To your use of motivation rather than fear to bring up your children. To how you have already primed your girls and your boy for university. To how you happily shoulder the burden of running a house and bringing up your children equally with your wife who also works.


Now, I see the mistakes I have myself made. I think with regret of the time of your childhood that will never come back, the jokes I never had time to share with you, the missed conversations. I have learned that I may have fathered you, but you are an independent entity, with a spirit and destiny that was in my safe-keeping for a while.


I have learned from looking at your bond with your mother, wife and children, that children don’t get “a sense of values” with a monthly lecture, or a cut-tail, but that a sense of right and wrong is inculcated in the hundreds of daily incidents in our lives, with sharp vigilance. Sharing is taught at a birthday party; kindness and compassion while visiting Grandma; manners taught morning, noon and night.


I’ve learned not to say “do as I say and not as I do” and I am lucky today to have a son who has done just that. I’m proud of the way you and my daughter-in-law have managed to remain independent entities with your friends and an individual destiny, and hence always interesting to one another, while creating a unit that is a family.


I felt, having grown up in a different generation that I would appear weak if I hugged you too hard, if I told you I loved you, if I said sorry. In our day, manhood was defined differently. I can see now how much we men of the macho age missed out from rocking you to sleep, to really listening to your dreams instead of wanting to impose mine on you.


I felt my nights out with the boys were my right; that my rage as the head of the household if the food wasn’t cooked to my liking was justified, that I could walk in and out of your lives as I wished.


Somehow, you turned out right. Perhaps there were values I was able to instill in you despite all my faults, that of a sense of right and wrong, that of integrity and the value of making money not by being a smart man but by working hard (you don’t think your old man is not going to take any credit for the fine human being you are today do you?). So, son, you are today, the man I always wanted you to be, perhaps more, despite me than because of me. I love you, always will.

Happy Father’s Day.

Love, Dad


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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur