friendship + family

Friday Reflection: Father Knows Best

February 10, 2012

You don’t know anything. So listen up…

This past weekend I was in Washington, D.C., working hard for social action, working hard for Delta (my sorority). As I was in line waiting to check-in to my hotel, I noticed a nice-looking brotha and his ~5yo son get in line a few people behind me. There wasn’t anything particularly notable about these two to make them stand out. But the interaction that took place between them caused my heart to flutter…

The little boy (apparently) began to ever so gently and ever so quietly play with one of the rope dividers that were setup around the check-in line. He wasn’t really being “bad,” just doing something he probably shouldn’t. In fact, I didn’t even notice what he was doing until I heard his father say in a low voice, calmly but seriously, “Son, how much do you think those medal stands weigh?” Son:  *stops moving and gives blank stare*. Dad: “Do you think they weigh more than you, or do you weigh more than them?” Kid: “I weigh more.” Dad: “OK, so if you weigh more than the stands, and you sit on that rope, don’t you think it’ll fall over and you’ll hurt yourself?” Kid: *nods* Dad: “Right. Now leave it alone and come back over here.”

All I could do was smile and chuckle to myself. And secretly wish this man was my husband. It was such a calm, level-headed call to critical thinking and responsibility, if you will. No yelling, no getting upset, no physical interaction. Just words. In a true discussion, that required participation from both sides. And this father sounded exactly like my father (and even my brother). The snapshot of this parenting moment is easily one that can be found in my childhood files. I rarely see this type of interaction between parents and their children–it’s usually antagonistic and loud. It was actually quite nostalgic for me. So much so, that later that evening I called my parents to tell them the story.

My father is notoriously known for what he did to that glove box1 his matter-of-fact, no-nonsense, logical way of parenting. Like the gentleman at the hotel, my father was never one to draw attention in public and get overly dramatic when his child was doing something she wasn’t supposed to do.  My father talked to me like a grown person, not a baby. My father wanted me to use logic and common sense to make good choices.

Typically when I was caught making, or planning to make, a poor decision, my father gave me an “out”. He allowed me to weigh my actions with the consequences that would follow. Being ignorant or uninformed wasn’t an excuse. And it was always ALWAYS a teaching moment. If I tried to walk across the street before looking both ways, my father would require me to consider the laws of physics, and expect me to act accordingly.2  And yes, even at a young age I was aware of how physics would work against me. Being ignorant or uninformed, even at 3 or 4 years old, was never an excuse to make a bad choice.

Seeing that father and son interact at the hotel this weekend took me back in time for a moment. And in that instant, I was a little girl again, peering up at my dad, trying to absorb bits and pieces of his infinite wisdom and sensibleness, and eager to show him that I could make good decisions. And hopefully to date I have.

What say you? Do you have any “father (or parent) knows best” memories? Does/did your parent know best? Has there ever been a time when you witnessed a parent and their child(ren) and it reminded you of your childhood?

Smiling and reflecting,

1 If you didn’t catch the story on twitter over the Christmas holiday, my dad did this to his glove box. He decided to break into (read: savagely assault) said glove box when he couldn’t open it with his key. Apparently whatever he needed, he needed IMMEDIATELY. Did he bother to ask for help? No. And his way to fix it? Duct tape. S.M.H.
2 Even to this day, my dad reminds me that force equals mass times acceleration or other such equations to help me identify the properties of mass.

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  • Reply MadScientist7 February 10, 2012 at 10:21 am

    i like this post. i often wonder how i will be as a parent and seeing as how i practice logic in almost every decision i make and i hardly ever lose my temper, i think i will be like the man you wrote about in the hotel. i just hope that i’m a good father and can raise morally sound children. growing up my parents definitely didn’t spare the rod and they lost their tempers often. i think a lot of my personality comes from trying to be the opposite of a lot of the traits i didn’t like in my parents.

    • Reply gemmieboo February 10, 2012 at 11:34 am

      from what i know of you, i think you will be a fantastic father. and i would pay good money to get a glimpse of you interacting with your children (ok maybe not actual dollars lol but i love watching fathers with their kids).

      my father has and does lose his temper. but in most instances, he was calm when dealing with me. giving me the chance to not get a beat down lol. there were times the discipline was more severe, but it usually wasnt needed, because i figured out what was the right (at least in HIS eyes) thing to do lol.

  • Reply miss t-lee February 10, 2012 at 10:33 am

    I still can’t get over your Dad obliterating the glove compartment like that. HILARITY!!!! Everytime I see fathers & their daughters I can’t help but think about my Dad.
    Just seeing little girls spend time with their dads gets me all emo, because it reminds me of hanging out with my father when I was younger. I can still remember leaving with my Dad on Saturday mornings to get donuts from a bakery down the street. I was like 3 or 4, I’d always be super crunk to ride with my Dad on the back of his bike. We’d fly down the side streets as I would yell from him to “go faster!” We’d get to the shop, sit down, have a donut or two, grab a dz to go for the rest of the family, and bike back home.
    Funny that we still spend time like that. Just me and him–chillin’,

    • Reply gemmieboo February 10, 2012 at 11:40 am

      I still can’t get over your Dad obliterating the glove compartment like that. HILARITY!!!!

      lmbo girl you and me both!!! like, i swore some one ELSE had broken into his car. smh wow dad, that was YOU? EXTREME.

      i swear teesh, our dads are the same person separated by a decade lol. i have so many similar memories with my dad. we were attached at the hip– i went everywhere with my dad and he let me do all kinds of nonsense my mother would have NEVER allowed lol. i think im going to start a new series on the blog detailing these memories. im def going to ask you to write some entries so yeah, be warned lol

      • Reply miss t-lee February 10, 2012 at 2:12 pm

        Yeah, our fathers are madd similar!!! It’s too wild.

        I’m considering myself warned, just let me know…lol 🙂

  • Reply The Suburban Thug February 10, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Moments like that are what I try to share with my daughter when we are together. She doesn’t live with me, and that causes its own issues. When the interactions are like the one you described, and the memories you have, I only hope she will remember these times as she grows up and matures.

    • Reply gemmieboo February 10, 2012 at 2:08 pm

      if you 2 have a loving relationship, she will undoubtedly reflect back on her moments with you as a little girl and smile as wide as i do thinking about my dad. my dad and i havent always gotten along, seen eye to eye, and not everything was rosey throughout my upbringing, but i cherish him and our memories together all the same.

      thank you for sharing! 🙂

  • Reply Corrin February 10, 2012 at 11:15 am

    I.LOVE.THIS! My dad is such a critical figure in my life! When I was little I was always with my dad,by his side, only wanted him to comb my hair(my pig tails were something crazy lol) watching and absorbing. As I got older and realized the reality of my situation I began to admire my dad even more. My parents got divorced when I was 2 and my dad being my dad filed for joint custody of his kids. This meant we spent 4 days with my mom and 4 days with my dad. No child support, no “yo daddy aint shit, no “weekend visit”, but rather equal time with both parents. In a society that tells us black men don’t raise their children I began to admire my dad EVEN MORE. As far as cool calm and collect I have seen my father lose his temper twice in my 27 years of life and both cases involved a stranger compromising the safety of his children. My father never spanked me, but used the same logic and level headedness to discipline and teach. I could go on for days about my dad, but the wildest story that still rings true is when he took my sisters electricity for a week for cheating after he told her NOT to cheat on a test. Let’s just say in 8th grade you never realize how much you NEED electricity!

    • Reply gemmieboo February 10, 2012 at 2:11 pm

      awwww thank you for sharing! i love this comment!! as i told you before, daddy daughter moments are so precious and i truly feel blessed that i have positive memories with my dad – hell, that i had a dad who was present period!!

      i think its great both of your parents recognize the importance of you spending time with both of them equally.

      LOL @ your sister getting her ELECTRICITY taken away. yo, that is DEEP lol. when i start my “daddy daughter diaries” i want this story in there lol.

      thanks for sharing, sis

  • Reply Wu Young, Agent of M.E. February 10, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Great post Gemmie.

    I have tons of pops knows best tales and each on has shaped my life and personality. I’m so much like him that it’s scary sometimes. From the extreme quiet to having a smart mouth I’m just a much younger version of him.

    The lessons in logic were subtle but they stuck. They ranged from using tools to odd ball stuff like killing a snake. If the question “Daddy how do I ______?” he would point me in the right direction but let me and my brother figure out the answers on our own within reason.

    If I can be half of the man that he is I’ve overachieved. The little guy held it down every damn day. He isn’t the best but he’s pretty damn good.

    I see things that remind me of my interaction with him all of the time. Watching my friends and their kids is usually the first things that jog my memories. Seeing them do it the right way is great. Sadly, when I’m at the grocery store or out and about and seeing kids run wild is the other. This reminds me of what my parents never did.

    Again this was a good post Jones.

    • Reply gemmieboo February 10, 2012 at 2:18 pm

      If the question “Daddy how do I ______?” he would point me in the right direction but let me and my brother figure out the answers on our own within reason.

      HA! this is soo my dad. you wanted to know how to spell a word or what it meant? “look it up in the dictionary.” you want to know about a certain person, place or thing? “look it up in the encyclopedia.” at like age 3, i knew how to work my dad’s stereo system to play the music i wanted to listen to. no such thing as helplessness or laziness in my house, thanks to Pops lol.

      If I can be half of the man that he is I’ve overachieved.

      omg, im gonna cry…. *thug tear falls*

      thank you for sharing, Wu. no wonder you are the Charlie to our goon angel, youre a father in training 🙂

  • Reply NicknotNikki February 10, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    I love this post Gem!!!
    It’s not often I see people interact with their children in a way that doesn’t involve loud antics.. curse words and threats of violence. It’s either that, or no correction at all (but I digress)

    I don’t really have any father memories. He once told me if I became a stripper, he would kill me.. And if my brother turned out to be gay, he’d do the same thing..

    Like Tunde, I often wonder how I will raise my children. I’m not an emotional person, everything must have some sort of logic to it and I know I will impart this to my children..
    I’m secretly jealous of people (women especially) that grew up with their father.. I’m glad you have those memories Gem..

    • Reply gemmieboo February 10, 2012 at 2:23 pm

      girl, it breaks my heart to witness parents yell and curse at the kids. uhhh theyre little hooligans because you are basically raising them to be that way! all that is unnecessary!

      (O_O) at your dad’s responses to you and your bro. i know we’ve talked about him before and its unfortunate he wasnt there for you to offer positive support.

      i feel i know you very well so im 1000% confident in saying youre going to be a WONDERFUL mother!!! you have so much love to give, and so much patience. and when your daughter heres you say “babyyyy girrrrrrrl” shes going to know shes loved and her confidence will be sky high. hell, im tearing up just thinking about it. lemme stop! lawd…

  • Reply Sigma_Since 93 February 14, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    First time reader but we kick it on VSB.

    Great post! Your interaction reminds me of how I try to treat my boys. I often times have people come up to the family and say my children are well behaved. I often struggled with how to react because I’m a frim believer in Proverbs 22:6. On the other hand, I want to question said individual(s) and ask do you really expect so little of us in public?

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