BET­TER PAR­ENT? IN HIS OWN WORDS . . .

By Adrian Fanus

SHE Carribean Magazine - - VOICES -

The wind­shield of fa­ther­hood is of­ten tainted with dirt and grime from the ex­pe­ri­ences of moth­ers and chil­dren who need a rem­edy for the bit­ter and still po­tent sting of an ab­sent fa­ther. To­day we will start the en­gine, turn on the wiper blades of a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive and drive down the road of a par­a­digm shift.

Con­fu­sion grew with each step I took. A few yards seemed like a hun­dred miles as em­bar­rass­ment and hurt crept in. In my hand was my prized the joke. That was the only phys­i­cal thing my fa­ther ever gave me, but the sen­ti­men­tal value of the les­son still res­onates daily.

“I'm preg­nant.” Those words still sound as clear to­day as the first time I heard them four­teen years ago. Armed with the weapon of not want­ing to be like my fa­ther, there was no hes­i­ta­tion in my re­ply. “I will take care of my re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

Just a child, I had no idea what those words meant, but af­ter years of hurt and pain my defence mech­a­nism and ego sprang at the first re­spon­si­bil­ity of par­ent­ing.

Ex­pe­ri­enc­ing those emo­tions made me more com­pas­sion­ate to­wards my fa­ther, but those walls would be built stronger than be­fore, to pro­tect me from suc­cumb­ing to that de­sire.

Star­ing into my son's eyes and see­ing the in­no­cence of his smile would cause a tsunami of emo­tions in the aban­doned boy in­side me. How could he ig­nore me? How could my very ex­is­tence not mat­ter to him? How could I be re­duced to a mere glance in­ter­rupt­ing his game of domi­noes? His friends must have thought it was funny. Would that lit­tle boy ever get the an­swers to his ques­tions?

In fact, the an­swer would come from the most un­ex­pected place.

“Dad, why don't you love me? Why do you spend so much time at work and ne­glect me?”

My foot weighed down a lit­tle heav­ier on the ac­cel­er­a­tor pedal and clar­ity filled my view. I was paral­ysed by the words com­ing from the mouth of my son. Where did I go wrong? Where did I drop the ball? Am I a bad fa­ther? Am I just like my fa­ther?

The ques­tions came quicker than the an­swers, and with each one, I found that lit­tle boy on his walk to re­turn the grape­fruit. Maybe we are the same per­son. Maybe that's what unites us.

My son: I have worked all my life to be bet­ter, stronger, more re­spon­si­ble, more lov­ing, more at­ten­tive and more present than he ever was. I have made sac­ri­fices so you would never have to go through what I went through. I don't ever want you walk­ing down that road of shame. Judge me by my ac­tions, my son, and when you do, I want you to have a com­plete view of the road I trav­elled.

This quote give me some com­fort: “By the time a son fig­ures that his fa­ther was right, he usu­ally has a son of his own who thinks that he is wrong.”

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