Last summer my daughter Wizdom, who was 14 at the time, had an opportunity to take a sketch comedy writing class at Brown University, her number one pick for colleges. She got an A in the class which made us all very proud. Upon returning home she brought back a little something for everyone based on her meager finances. However, I got the largest and probably the most expensive gift she could afford, a plaque for my office that reads, “BEHIND EVERY GOOD KID IS A GREAT DAD” which moved me to tears. This is definitely the most treasured office decoration I own, as it trumps any diploma, certification, citation or award I have or will every receive.
Being a great dad is synonymous with being a great husband for me, as I grew up in a very dysfunctional and abusive household. I always promised myself that when I grew up I AM going to have a home filled with harmony and love. Having a loving family isn’t something that happens overnight or something that has a finish line I can reach, proclaim victory and be done. This is a life time commitment and requires a vast degree of effort on my part. Like spending a great deal of quality time together, both collectively and individually.
Being that my kids are 4 years apart, and Wizdom being the elder, I spent at least an hour every evening with her. We spent time at the park playing on the jungle gym and slide; walking around the neighborhood talking about her day, her likes and dislikes, her wants and all the great things her I wanted for her. By the time she was three we were road dogs, driving out to Brooklyn from the Bronx to go visit my mom and sisters every Friday. I will never forget when she was four and we were walking around the block and she blurted out at this woman passing by, “Why is that girl looking at my Daddy in the mysterious way?” I thought that was priceless because my baby could see the things I wasn’t always privy to. I knew my daughter will always have back. She’s 15 now and our relationship is just as tight, we still speak like we always do and even manage go out on dates amid our busy schedules. She’s the drum major for her schools band, captain of the girl’s basketball team, an aspiring actress and currently interning at a prestigious dance studio here in Atlanta from 1 in the afternoon until 10pm most nights from Monday to Friday.
After my son Zidan was born, I had to learn to balance my time even more so between my my wife and daughter to accommodate this new guy. For instance, soon after giving birth, my wife had to return to school to complete her degree in forensic psychology. So on Saturday mornings I had to strap the baby on my chest so I can walk my daughter to Girl Scouts, and spend time walking him around the neighborhood telling him things about life no baby can even begin to understand. I just believed talking to these little people was important whether or not they could understand, because I consider it rude to be with someone and not speak with them or give them your undivided attention. By the time Ziggy, the nickname his grandmother gave him, was 3 he said I was his “bess pren” (best friend). As he got older and we spent more and more time together he started saying how much he wants to be like me, and how much he relish when people compare our looks or similarities. He is 11 now and will run up to me wherever and whenever to give me a hug and a kiss and a punch. He still mimics me, the way I stand, the way I conduct myself when I’m speaking with others, especially at business meetings. Last night while bowling he told me he knows why I have the tattoo with his name on my arm is because I’m his number one fan, because I am always encouraging and motivating him to be his best especially when he’s doubting himself. He recently was awarded an outstanding leadership award in music for being a 6th grader that leads the trumpet section which is comprised of 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th graders. Outstanding!
Constantly being there for them, teaching them Godly things and the ways of this world, teaching them about understanding themselves and understanding other people. Being there to correct them when they need it and showing them the right way, being there to see their triumphs and defeats, always being their first line of defense and refuge is what being a great father is all about to me. Anything short of that is just not good enough!
Today as we celebrate fatherhood I ask that we take a deep inventory of ourselves and ask, “Am I giving this my all or am I just doing enough to get by?” For nothing should take priority over your family, especially your kids. No hobby, no fraternity, no club, not even your job or business. Here is a dose of reality, hobbies, fraternities and clubs add no real value to your life especially once you become a father, since they only rob and cheat you of time away from your family. If your job or business is robbing you of time away from your family then you might want to reconsider your priorities. See how your time is being allotted so that you can have a more balanced life.
As for me, I AM motivated by Aerosmith’s hit song from the Armageddon movie; I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing
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