IMG_0390Father’s day is coming up and buzzfeed have done these wonderful set of videos involving the try guys and the relationship with their fathers. This particular one really got me thinking:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieAtWSh2i_Q

The relationship between fathers and sons are very different of that between fathers and daughters…and mothers and daughters and mothers and sons for that matter. From what I have observed from friends and extended family members, the mother seems to take on the more sensitive role and seems to know her kids a little better than the dads do, in some instances the offspring do not even really have a relationship with the dad. Then, in the teenage years when anger sets in and a kind of wilfulness, the kids often end up resenting the parent who was least present. And this is especially apparent when the almost absent father figure has to be a disciplinarian. How can you impose rules on someone you do not know?

I did not grow up in the typical family. Both of my parents worked and I think, in my childhood-stained eyes, that both took on more or less an equal amount of responsibility. Both of my parents have different strengths and I think they played to them in quite a decent amount of harmony. My mum is an excellent teacher and doesn’t sweat the small stuff. My father has an excellent sense of humour and knew how to be very entertaining. In the discipline department, I think it was pretty much equal. I really hate it when I hear parents say ‘You just wait until your father gets home!’ It paints the dad like some angry monster. Did my mum ever say it? Sometimes. Seldom, but it would happen when she was truly at her wits end. Which, to be fair, was rare. And probably only because when my dad would yell he was just a tad scarier than my mum and a lot louder. Then later he would feel bad and come and hug us or tease us about something and try making us laugh, just to show that everything is still alright. Come to think of it, he does that when he has an argument with my mother too, to this day. I can tell he hates it when things are tense or if there’s murky water between himself and the people he cares about.

I like to talk about my relationship with my dad. It is different to the relationship he has with my older brother and my younger sister. On his side of the family, I was the first girl after a long line of boys…my dad has two brothers, then my brother came along, then my male cousin and then me. When I was an infant, my dad couldn’t get enough of me. I think my earliest memory of my dad is of me climbing into his lap during Canadian never-ending holy mass services and curling up and falling asleep. And he would always say ‘Marie-Claire, don’t sleep…’ but it was quite futile. The intoxicating smell of incense and my father’s warmth in the snowy atmosphere were too conducive to slumber. And also the feeling of complete safety in a world that to this day I still do not quite understand. My dad was a constant: in my mind, he would always be there, by my mother’s side to rally us on. And for the most part he was. And pretty much still is.

Fundamentally, I am more like my mother. In character, in mannerisms in most things. We are both a bit eccentric and we both feel like a lot of things really do not matter much. When it comes to challenges, we both generally do not think too much and just go for it. We look at things and think ‘oh well, if it all goes awry, I’ll figure it out’. My dad on the other hand is, in my opinion, over-cautious and wants to control every aspect of every situation. Which is not very compatible with raising a rather headstrong and mischievous teenage daughter with rather a different character to her father. You cannot control who she will meet, who she will date, what she will study, what she will wear, what she will do in the few hours she is out of your sight. Well, you can, but it will not be smooth and will have many, many repercussions.

Fast forward a decade from being tiny and fitting in my father’s lap…a seventeen year-old, scary teenage tigress with cranberry coloured hair with blue streaks in it (hair mascara was a thing) with very much a mind of her own with a penchant for halter tops and quite newly pubescent, hormone filled boys. And she had discovered alcohol and other things that are not so great for one’s health. Talk about a daddy nightmare.

We used to SCREAM at each other. The words ‘I hate you’ became a catch phrase. The more my dad tried to control, the worse it got because it just became a saga. We wouldn’t even know what we were arguing about any more, it just became a battle of who would get their own way. And who had the loudest voice. My other friend’s fathers were not as strict as mine. But that, I think, was because they were not as present as mine was. I saw my father as this mean asshole, who would not even try to understand me and was completely insensitive to what I needed to find myself.

But he wasn’t a mean asshole. He was insensitive, but he was not a mean asshole.

You know what he was?

Terrified.

He was terrified. He was terrified that his daughter was going to be a pregnant- junky-alcoholic-slut who sold her body on the street for a living. He was terrified that he was not important anymore and that he could not reach me. That a hug and joke did not work anymore. That I could not sit on his lap and be entertained by asking me ‘What noise does a lion make?’ to which I would reply ‘ROARRR!’

I wonder if he knew at that time that soon enough we would be roaring and each other.

And I did not become a ‘teenage-pregnant-junky-alcoholic-slut’ because in spite of everything I did have aspirations and dreams and those aspirations were very important to me. Remember, in character I am more like my mother and she was always a good role model for me and I wanted to be like her: a strong and independent woman with her own career and can be successful by doing her own thing. I look back at my behaviour and I do think that it was all just being a regular, angry teenager who really and truly was mishandled. I know my little sister had her rebellious moments, but hardly any of the drama…she’s a smart one; she learned from my mistakes and was far less vociferous and a lot more secretive with her transgressions. Either that or my dad relaxed when he saw that in spite of everything I turned out quite alright. And if I could take it all back, all the ‘I hate you’s and the ‘I wish you were dead’s, I would because I have a lot of regrets. But we all wish we knew then what we know now and as I always say, life does not have a rewind button.

I was a bit of a mean, insensitive, asshole. And for that I am truly sorry.

And now to the present. I am married, I live in my own house and I basically see my parents when I want to. And the honest to God truth is that I do want to. I want to a lot. I spend almost every day off with them. I want them to feel like they can rely on me. I want to make up for all the time I did not appreciate them enough. I want them to feel like now that I have grown up, I can take care of them, in a kind of role reversal.

And even though I have stated that in most ways I resemble my mother, I did inherit my father’s sophisticated sense of humour which definitely helps me out with my stand-up comedy.

And he really knows how to annoy the crap out of me.

And I really know how to annoy the crap out of him.

But at least now we can laugh about it.

Happy father’s day, dad.

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