I will not let my fa­ther’s ab­sence turn me into a mon­ster

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

IF I was also asked to spell the word, “fa­ther”, at a spell­ing Bee com­pe­ti­tion, I would spell it: M-O-T-H-E-R. Fa­ther! Be­cause my mother is the only fa­ther I have grown up to know. To­day, as a 26-year-old man, I know that there is al­ways one less cel­e­bra­tory day to stress about.

How­ever, it be­ing a day I should not stress about, does not elim­i­nate the pon­der­ing I have of how it could have been if my spell­ing of a fa­ther was F-A-T-H-E-R or D-A-D or D-A-D-D-Y.

Would he ap­pre­ci­ate an ex­pen­sive bot­tle of whisky or brandy? Would he have been the kind of dad that a wrist watch was go­ing to make his day even more pleas­ant? I won­der, would he have been the kind that would ap­pre­ci­ate an Orlando Pi­rates or Kaizer Chiefs jer­sey or not even a soc­cer lover at all?

But as Sun­day, June 18, Fa­ther’s Day ap­proaches, I am, as I have al­ways done over the years, go­ing to look into my mother’s eyes and say: “Thank you for be­ing such an awe­some fa­ther to me. Your lack of mas­culin­ity did not make you less of a fa­ther to me. You play the role of be­ing a mother and a fa­ther ex­cep­tion­ally well. So Mom, Happy Fa­ther’s Day.”

It does not make me feel like I have a fa­ther. I do not. And some­times that re­al­ity of an ab­sent fa­ther pains meThe older one gets, the most frus­trat­ing it is.

As a men­tor of teenage boys, I have had the priv­i­lege to meet some of their fathers. I must say, very few of them have present-ac­tive fathers.

So it is al­ways re­fresh­ing when I get a chance to meet their fathers for a chat.

They are amaz­ing fathers.There is some­thing that dis­tin­guishes the lads who are fa­ther­less like my­self from those who have presently ac­tive dads.

So through th­ese very few young men and their fathers, I get a chance to be hope­ful. I know for a fact that there are good fathers out there.

I know that not all boys are go­ing about life with­out a tem­plate of how to be a man from home. Some­times it is a tem­plate of how not to be.

I of­ten say: “I make be­ing fa­ther­less the coolest thing in the world.” What I mean by that is, I will not let my fa­ther’s ab­sence turn me into a mon­ster. In­stead, I made a pact with my­self that I am go­ing to be the best man I can pos­si­bly be and even­tu­ally a great fa­ther, God will­ing.

It would be such an in­jus­tice to not ac­knowl­edge all the won­der­ful, amaz­ing and cool fathers out there. It is not all doom and gloom. I am happy that your daugh­ters, too, see an ex­am­ple of a good man who treats his chil­dren and wife with re­spect. I am happy that through your par­tic­i­pa­tion in the lives of your daugh­ters, they will know not to be in­volved with men who are trash. Your sons, too, will know not to be trash be­cause you have shown both the trea­sure that you are as a fa­ther.

I do not doubt that there are many of you good and re­spon­si­ble fathers out there. How­ever, I hap­pened to grow up in a vil­lage where the ab­sen­teeism of fathers is con­spic­u­ous. It leads some of the boys in my vil­lage to ac­knowl­edge their mas­culin­ity as a pass­port to dis­re­spect their moth­ers and live un­con­trol­lable lives. Of course, it isn’t only your ab­sence as a fa­ther that makes them so dis­re­spect­ful. I turned out quite well, even if I do say so my­self. How­ever, had you been around, they would have prob­a­bly been more sub­mis­sive to your mas­culin­ity. They would fear do­ing cer­tain things in your pres­ence.

As some of you would be show­ered with gift on Sun­day, I would like to say to those who plan to be fathers and those who are fathers al­ready, your pres­ence in your child’s live means so much to him or her.

To those who are like me, I know this is how we will al­ways spell Happy Fa­ther’s day: H-A-P-P-Y M-O-T-H-E-R-’S D-A-Y. Be­cause to us, our moth­ers are the only fathers we know.

A Happy Fa­ther’s Day in ad­vance.

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