To my dad on Father’s Day

Dear Dad,

Well, I guess I’m going to be emailing this to you because you don’t have a Facebook or a Twitter or anything. That’s okay. I suspect you’d either neglect it entirely or get too caught up in it, and you don’t want to do either. I’ve stopped caring about that.

If there’s one thing I can say, it’s that you’ve taught me to pick my battles. I can say I’m your daughter through and through on that one. I sometimes pick unwise ones, just like you.

Yesterday, we celebrated me. Today, I’m celebrating you.

I remember rough-housing on that God-awful swamp-green living room carpet we used to have. I also remember watching you light a fire, and working with power tools… all those crazy things that I always wanted to help with because they looked like a lot of fun. In retrospect, I can see how hard it was. I mean, you practically renovated the entire house, and more or less single-handedly.

But you know what my fondest memories still are? Take a guess…

If you said “Nights spent reading Dr. Seuss”, you’re right. You were the one who taught me how to read expressively, to bring a story to life just using my voice. I mean, you did your own sound effects! Who does that?! Not many people, I can tell you! Sure, my reading mannerisms have gotten me strange looks more than once, but what’s life without being a little (or a lot) strange every now and then?

On that note, you taught me to be proud of who I am, strangeness and all. You were the one who told me not to take any guff from bullies, even if it meant taking it to blows and getting myself in trouble. Thankfully, it never came to that, but it did give me the confidence to do what needs to be done.

You were always telling me I’d go far—farther than a lot of people seemed to think I would. Farther than I thought I’d go, at least. Not that I thought I would drop out of college or anything if I thought it was too hard, but that, compared to a lot of people, I’d be just okay. It’s something I still struggle with, being surrounded by some pretty brilliant people, but you’ve told me over and over that my tenacity is just as valuable as anyone else’s natural talent, and I’m just now coming to realize that there’s a lot of truth to that.

We’ve walked a long road together, you and I, and we have butted heads over a lot of it. But we’ve also had our fun, our laughs, and our tears, and it’s nothing like how I feel a lot of my friends’ relationships with their parents are. (Maybe I’m wrong. I don’t know.) And still, at this crossroads, I know you’re walking with me, telling me to go for it and never back down. And also have small snacks at regular intervals so that the world doesn’t end when I get hungry.

From the big things to the little things and a lot of in-between things, you’ve been there. And I’d be lying if I said I thought this is the end of that. Thanks, Dad, now and always.

Love,

Chickadoodle

One of those special moments of dawning realization

More and more often, especially as I close in on my last quarter at university (I hope, I hope, I hope…), I find myself just doing something, and then stopping in the middle and going, “Wait a minute–this is an adult thing!”

No, not that kind of adult thing. And even if it was, I wouldn’t write about it. That would just be… ew.

No, I’m talking about the kind of adult things I can talk about to even a five-year-old.

Take today, for instance. I needed to return to my parents’ house to get a few important pieces of mail. Like my new debit card. Because apparently, they expire. (Who knew?) Like I’ve done since high school, I grabbed the bus and walked and let myself in, and looked for a snack.

Somewhere in the middle of that, things went awry.

It came to my attention that there was a batch of clean dishes sitting in the dishwasher, and in the dish rack next to the sink. Being that we have limited counter space at my apartment, my mind was screaming at me that these things need to be put away NOW. (We don’t use our apartment dishwasher because it has a funky brown stain in it, and we don’t really go through that many dishes, anyway, but that’s neither here nor there. My point is that these dishes needed putting away.)

Now, when I was a kid, I would have ignored this and summarily pleaded the fifth when confronted about why I wasn’t responsible, especially when the chore takes only five minutes, tops. In defense of me fifteen or so years ago, five minutes in kid time spent on a chore is like eleven hours. But now, it really is five minutes. And it really does feel good. There’s just something about surveying a less-cluttered counter and an empty sink and thinking (complete with a bit of a twang) “I done good”.

And then, I realized that this was one of those things that mature (or at least responsible) adults do. And I kind of freaked out. Since when am I a mature, responsible adult?! Just because I’ve been able to vote and smoke and drink for a couple years doesn’t mean I’m mature and responsible. Just because I’ve somehow made it through three and two thirds years of college doesn’t make me mature and responsible. What is it, then? Is it just these little, every day things? Is it working a job? Is it budgeting time and money? Is it rolling your eyes at fart jokes? I really don’t know.

What I do know is that somehow, in the midst of everything, I’m becoming an adult. It’s a bittersweet thing, though I know I will always have a part of me that’s a child at heart. But it’s also a proud moment, both for me to realize that maybe I can live in this so-called “real world” and not fall to pieces, but also for me to look at my parents (and hopefully for them to look at themselves) and say, “You/we done good. Chickadoodle will always be that little girl we all loved from the start, but now, she’s more than that; she’s what we hoped for.”

Mom, Dad, when you read this (because I will make you; I swear I will), I really hope that you do look at that little girl and the woman she’s becoming with pride. If you ever wondered whether you got it right, I can tell you that you did, 100%. And I love you both so much.