|Chef and Ouisie, wheel lessons. England, 2013.|
MOAO, or My One and Only, is the nickname given to me by my father after seeing the off-broadway production some 25-years ago. As a pre-teen, I blushed when he called me MOAO in front of peers, but later felt homesick as a college student when a card or email arrived from dad. As his only daughter, and the only girl in the family, I was raised with 24-hour personal bodyguard service comprised of dad, uncles, brothers, and cousins.
Growing up, dad was a playmate, coach of my YMCA sports teams, and (when needed) a security blanket to ward off monsters in the night. From age two to twenty-two, I went through phases of being daddy’s little girl and Miss Independent Know-it-all.
Recently, Chef is the apple of Ouisie’s eye. I delight in watching the dynamics of their relationship grow and change. Watching Chef teach Ouisie little life lessons has made me think about five my dad taught me.
All five are still relevant and, in fact, I find they continue to teach me today. Here they are:
This statement was drilled into my brothers and me like a military march. Dad said these two words as we tidied up toys, packed suitcases, studied for an exam, or got ready for bed. Plain and simple, the order was to stay focused on the end goal and see it through to completion.
The ‘it’ in this statement refers to the subject matter, namely me. This mantra was repeated as I left to go out on Friday nights in high school, when we ended phone calls from college, and most recently on tough parenting days.
|Riding off into the sunset, daddy and MOAO, Texas|
Over the years when I ignored dad’s advice, I had to swerve and slam on the brakes in attempt to correct my error. I’ll spare the details of these mistakes, and just say they each had poor results and left a lot of unneeded mess to clean up.
My best self, even today, is when I am in the middle lane with cruise control set. I am not tempted to speed up or pass. I have clear a vision and am able to make the right choices and avoid any obstacles in my path.
I do not recall many conversations in which dad has not asked if I was happy. Ironically, I often found it irritating as I wondered why he pried. Did I not seem happy?
|Dad, happy. Nevis, 2006.|
I consider myself a happy person but admit some days are easier to be happy than others. That’s called being normal, right?
|MOAO and Daddy|
Now as a mother, I realise how a parent’s level of happiness is elevated by their own children’s glee. I have come to appreciate why dad has always harped on this question. It was not to fill a gap in the conversation, but to give him assurance and an extra dash of joy. If his kids are happy, his cup runneth over, too.
Dad is an incredible networker. He remembers names, individuals’ backgrounds, and can link connections together. He taught me early on how communicating with people opens doors to new relationships, career development, and personal growth.
Even now dad asks after my friends. He takes a great interest in their lives and, for this reason, he is a favourite amongst my peers.
He encourages me to find the time to pick up the phone or drop a few lines to my (ever growing) list of out-of-touch friends.
A few years ago, I reconnected with a friend of whom I was inseparable with during childhood. During our high school and college years we lost touch but she was always in the back of my mind. Dad encouraged me to call her up but I figured she was too busy or she would call me. But then one day, I called.
|Me and my best pal.|
Since that reunion, we now make a point to see each other when I am visiting back home and I eagerly look forward to our catch up time.
Father knows best. I reestablished a beloved friendship that my so called busy life had too long overshadowed.
It took dad weeks, and countless demos, for me to master the backward roll. My derrière wished to deny nature’s gravitational force, leaving my legs suspended over my head. And though I had no vertical jump, I loved going to cheer on my home basketball team, the Rockets, so dad encouraged me to go to a weekend basketball camp to improve my alley-oop.
He cheered from the sidelines at my sporting events, applauded my theatre productions, and persevered with correcting the hook in my golf swing. He is my biggest cheerleader and most patient coach. Though my future did not hold Olympic gold or a LPGA card, dad encouraged me to pursue my interests and applauded my effort, even when I flopped.
|Dad and MOAO. Nevis, 2006|
With Ouisie now eager to learn how to ride a scooter and swim, I shout her praises through my imaginary megaphone and wave my ecstatic hands like pom poms– just like dad did for me.
These are little lessons with big impacts. I consider a great lesson one that adheres and becomes part of your daily routine. All five of these continue to intersect my life and merit being paid forward. And so I do.
I am a lucky little girl. Ouisie, too, is a lucky little girl. We have our B.F.F (Best Fathers Forever). They provide us with unconditional love, discipline, praise, and happiness.
On this Father’s Day we give our B.F.F.s three cheers:
hip-hip-hooray! hip-hip-hooray! hip-hip-HOORAY!
|Chef, Dad and MOAO. Nevis, 2006.|