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Dad Challenges

This was not what I expected.  I always imagined my first kid to be a boy, you know, wrestling  and getting dirty. I always thought I would have all the answers; having crushes, what cologne to wear, when to be smooth vs. goofy and letting him know what the world expects of him as a minority.

Up until the second that we received the news – “Congratulations. You are having a baby…” BOY. Thanks. I knew it. I cut the doctor off mid-way through her announcement because I was so sure but oh boy, or should I say girl because I was so wrong.  When the doctor said we were having a girl, I could no longer imagine my life with a boy as my first child. She was all I could think about, it felt right.

Now don’t get me wrong, my daughter and I wrestle, we get dirty and I still do my best to explain to a 1 year old what the world expects of a young woman of color, more importantly, to exceed the expectations of a young black girl during this time.  We do all the things boys do and she even throws better than a few guys I know –  but MOM (Cue the super villain music) she wants to be as glamorous as her mom.

Here’s what I’m struggling with.

Nail polish

I saw the look in her eye when she saw her mom painting her toe nails and I thought to myself “oh no. It has begun.” Her mom is her fashion idol from being dolled up to just lounging in sweats.  There is no off button.  I’m not against nail polish, I just know that I will soon be lured in by the “please daddy” then be victim to her glitter, purple nail polish.

Dating

“I have a particular set of skills..” – Liam Neeson

I was asked by my colleague – Selena ” When will you allow your daughter to date?”.  My initial thought was DATING? She’s going to work for Jesus, there is no dating.  I have 2 answers for this type of question, 1. When she’s in high school, the topic can be open for discussion but it’s based on maturity and respect.  I want a clear dialogue with my daughter which supports a “no secrets” rule. 2. My dad answer is when she’s 35, no debate.

I despise the idea of her dating but I have faith and trust that she’ll make the right decisions. BUT!!! I will always be on guard for teenage, sad romance.

Have you ever seen Taken?

Menstrual Cycles

(Cringing already) You may be thinking c’mon, don’t be immature but that’s not why.  That’s her step into womanhood and I won’t be prepared for it.  It’ll be painful , necessary for the both us but we don’t have to like it.  See for guys, I can deal with the arm pit hair, the  deep voice and weird smells but for my munchkin…….(I passed out, sorry.) Grabbing the necessary tools to handle those leaks will forever be a sad day for me.

Game face ready

As much as I want her to remain my small, munchkin forever, it’s always my duty to prep her for what this big world has in store for her.  As a young woman of color, it’s my duty to nurture her progression in all aspects – no matter how difficult it may be for me.  Truth of the matter is, I can’t fight every battle for her, I can’t always be there and I can’t always make things right. As her dad, I can teach her, mold her and be there whenever she needs me to lick her wounds aka “boo boo kisses”.  For all you dads out there, our job is to continue to push our girls/family in the right direction in hopes that our seeds create a beautiful garden in their era.

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Scraped knees 

As a new dad, I’m usually always over protective of my little one.  Sometimes, family members and friends would ask why am I so involved and sheltering? My response would simply be “Why wouldn’t I”?!

I come from an environment where it’s not deemed masculine to be there for every step of the growth process of your child.  It’s called the “mothers job”. I never grasped that concept. To worry about education, health, appointments, schedules, the overall development of a child is a natural gift that I believe all mothers inherit when they start cooking that “bun in the oven” but dads; we need some getting used  to.  That’s why we should receive standing ovations for trying our best to get everything down.

I can’t tell you enough how much our toddler loves exploring and how much it gives me anxiety.  To make matters worse, she’s in her independent phase so she hates her hand being held when we take a stroll. (Oy vey)  If I can place her in a bubble till she’s 35, I’d be fine but that’s not legal .. is it? A lot of the feeling of stress is attributed to being away most of the time, it makes you feel like you’ve missed everything. Time seems to be flying by when I’m away at work. It’s as if on Tuesday morning she’s my little headache, crawling everywhere but when I get back from work, she’s climbing everything and everyone.  Then I look at her mom with so much anger as if she worked some magic to speed up time while I was away. “It was you!! You did this!”

Here’s the real

It’s a great, big world out there that we still have yet to fully discover but some things have gotten old to us adults.  To a toddler, the world is brand new.  They’re experiencing every single detail on this green Earth for the first time so they want to know everything about it.  I thought it was always best to follow my instincts to always shield her from everything that can be a considered harmful but I had to realize that there’s a difference between shielding her from harm and shielding her from progression.  Over the weekend, while taking a stroll around the neighborhood, my daughter asks to get her stroller to walk. Usually, I’m on her like white on rice but this time, I took a step back to just be in the moment with her.  She had complete freedom to explore.  While walking, she fell and scraped her knees. I resisted the urge to run to her with a stretcher and IV bag ready to go. (toughest moment of the year) To my surprise, she got up, examined her wounds and made the decision to come to daddy for a “Boo Boo kiss” (Dad to dad – no one can know about this.)

I guess no matter how young old your kid is, they’ll always know how much you want to protect them but I guess what THEY WANT is for us dads to be in the moment with them.

Kenzie getting in her car 2-1.jpg

Btw .. She does not have permission to drive yet.

 

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