I always tell my dad he should write a book. You know those people who take mundane tasks, like grocery shopping, and turn them into opportunities for preaching life lessons? That’s my dad. He’s full of advice and—lucky me—I’m usually the recipient.
When I was a little girl, I thought my dad knew everything. He was the smartest person I had ever met. I mean, he saved people’s lives—who was I to question his authority? But, as I grew up, I realized that my dad was far from perfect.
He once put salt, instead of sugar, in my hot chocolate. He stressed the importance of being an alert driver while backing into a lamp post. Sometimes, when he gets mad, he is rude to people—and things—that don’t deserve it. The GPS is just trying to help, dad.
It must have been a weird transition for him, too. I used to be a tiny blob that couldn’t even feed itself. Not too long ago, my daily hair routine consisted of my dad tying my hair into a poof on top of my head. Now, he has probably lost count of all the hair tools littering my bathroom counter. I think the scariest part for him is that he taught me everything he knew—he molded me into a functional person—and, now, all of a sudden, I have my own ideas about how to do things. So, dad, the next time you find yourself shaking your head at some poor decision I’ve made, lamenting that you’ve failed as a parent, I hope you remember all the lessons that you have taught me.
“‘Sorry’? Don’t make mistakes, and you won’t have to say ‘sorry.’”
My dad has always been under the impression that “sorry” is a meaningless word. Whenever I made little-kid blunders, like dropping fragile items or losing my allowance, I would profusely apologize for them. That should make everything better, right? I felt bad about what I did, so I should be let off the hook or, at least, get a softer punishment. Well, not according to my dad. An apology, he says, doesn’t fix what’s broken. An apology isn’t a Get Out of Jail Free card, and it doesn’t entitle you to forgiveness. Sometimes accidents happen. Take responsibility. Mend mistakes with actions, not words.
“There’s no use in complaining about things you can’t change.”
I used to whine all winter about the cold, much to my dad’s chagrin. Eventually, I stopped, for the most part, because I would hear this exact response every time I opened my mouth. Although I took it for granted then, I now realize that I’ve inconvenienced my dad countless times, and I was far more annoying than a little wind chill. I cannot begin to imagine how hard it was to move to a foreign country and raise a child. My dad taught me how the world worked while he was still figuring it out himself. He paid for piano lessons and singing lessons that he realistically couldn’t afford, and that was only the beginning. I needed tennis racquets and clothes. I needed theme park tickets, then makeup and, then, the car. Now, I’m taking a couple hundred grand just to go to college. My dad’s ability to sacrifice without a single complaint amazes me. It’s a quality I hope to one day emulate as effortlessly as he does.
I asked my dad what he wanted for Father's Day, and he said, “three LED flashlights.”
He is not a sentimental person. While “World’s Best Father” mugs and finger-painted cards might have been adorable when I was six, today, they would elicit nothing more than a scoff. Cute, but unnecessary. He has no desire for crystal-encrusted watches or elaborate razors boasting the latest advances in shaving technology. He wants what he needs and nothing more—another attitude I have yet to master, judging by how often I run out of food points.
“Different strokes for different folks.”
This is my dad’s absolute favorite phrase. It’s also the one that I feel best sums up our relationship. The generational and cultural gaps between us sometimes make it difficult to see eye-to-eye, and this is further exacerbated by our stubbornness. We may disagree about little things, like clothes and curfews, but, at the end of the day, we’re still family.
So thank you, dad. I’m truly lucky to have a loving father who has always kept my best interests at heart. Thank you for all the wisdom you have already bestowed upon me, and thank you, in advance, for any future advice that I may or may not follow. Hey, "different strokes for different folks," right?
Pallavi Shankar is a Trinity sophomore. This is her final column in a biweekly series during the summer.