“How you supposed to know when you don’t try first?”
My dad says this a lot. Often gets angry at us for claiming we don’t know how to do things before doing them. He would sometimes make us prove to him that we’ve tried everything and failed before coming up with answers himself. It was always something that I got frustrated by as a kid but now thinking back, he helped hone my critical thinking skills a lot.
I was raised on tough love, if you can’t already tell. My father always gave us freedom to try out new things for ourselves but if we failed at any of it, like playing football or making kites, rather than saying “okay, so maybe this isn’t for you. Try something else”, he made us go through stages of how we can fix our problem before admitting that nothing else can be done and then we could move on to the next attempted hobby or interest.
The Inner Workings of Tough Love
My dad is a businessman but with a passion for handiwork. When I was younger, he was the one that used to fix things for us. We never really bought new toys when they were broken, we just got him to fix it.
His motto is basically, “if you can’t do it, try harder”. He’d come up with multiple different ways to fix things. He’s the one that taught me how to DIY things. I made my own bed frame, fixed my own lock in my room, fixed the weird whirring sound that my ceiling fan made when I turned it on in the middle of the night. I also get asked to change the lightbulbs of the house. And whenever I didn’t know how to do anything and couldn’t find it on Google, it was easy to call my dad up and ask.
He’s also always looking for new adventures. We often go hiking together and he’d go out of his way to prove he can better us in order to motivate us into pushing ourselves to the limit.
Sometimes he would purposely make my life harder by saying he doesn’t know how to do something just so that I can think of the ways to do it myself. All the while being the observer and encouraging me to think harder.
When he used to send me to school, he would teach me about how roads were made and the science behind them. You know those jagged steel plates on the road at the bridge sometimes? They’re called expansion joints and those are put in so that the road can expand when it’s hot out and minimise any cracking in the road.
Yeah, random fact but I learned that from my dad one day when we were stuck in a traffic jam at 37 degree weather.
The Formative Years
When I was nine, I broke my bed frame because my friend and I thought it was a good idea to see who could jump the highest and reach the ceiling. No one was injured, thank God but there were a few casualties to finding out the winner. My dad was angry at me for encouraging such behaviour and as punishment, he made me help him fix the bed.
Now at 27, when I accidentally break things, I just go to the hardware store by myself. I also have a few ins with the uncle that runs the hardware store near my house. He even gives me discounts now since he’s seen me often enough with my father so whenever I come alone, I still get treated like an old friend. Which made my friends think I’m living a double life. If my double life was as a handyman who does manual labour for my family.
It’s not just me, though. My dad teaches my brothers to do DIYs as well. But since I’m the oldest, I’m oftentimes the one that has to deal with the aftermath of it if they decide to give up half-way. I am brave enough to say that my dad pushes me harder than any of my brothers. He strives to see me independent. Sometimes I think he thinks of me as the son he’s always wanted.
I used to write work tenders and documents for him as a teenager because his dream was for me to follow in his footsteps and be a businessman, or I guess in my case, a businesswoman. But alas, I ventured into social sciences and the fine arts instead.
He still tries to coerce me into doing business with him but my passion lies elsewhere, Father. I am sorry.
My Dad is Better Than Your Dad
I can honestly say, my dad is the best dad there is for me. If I were to be born with another father figure, I don’t know how I’d turn out but I am grateful for my father and his teachings. Even if it was a little bit harsh sometimes. But I guess tough love works?
However, it saddens me that as I’m older, I’m a little bit distant with my dad. We still spend some time together but with both of us working and me having a social life outside of family, we barely have time to sit and talk like we used to.
I remember a few years ago when we would road trip together and he would tell me all sorts of stories about what it’s like when he was a kid and how he wished he still was sometimes. Now that I’m older, I treasure the moments I have with my dad very dearly and always keep his advice and musings in my back pocket to use on a rainy day.
He also taught me the physics of road rage. And I am embarrassed to say, I inherited my driving skills from him. Look out drivers, this is a threat.
My father also taught me to be aware of my surroundings and I learnt how to be more reflexive when he threw a knife at me and told me to duck.
I’m glad that my relationship with my dad is a good one and I can talk to him about anything and almost everything. Although I don’t always agree with what he says like I did when I was a kid, and there are a lot more arguments that happen since I can do things by myself now even without him trying to teach me how to, I still like his company.
His constant presence is like a warm blanket of assurance that even when I’ve hit rock bottom, the only way left to go is up – with my dad beside me all the way.
If you’re like me and you struggle to find ways to spend time with your dad now that you’re older, there are a few places that you can go to help you rekindle that bond together again!