Sup, Daddies?? Happy belated Fathers’ Day!
I figured I’d take a little time today and write a lil somethin’ somethin’ to encourage you (us) all since, well, you know…Father’s Day is over and we probably won’t get any more props ’til next year at about this time. Anyway, I wanted you to know that the stuff we do all year round IS important and it IS recognized, and it will have lasting effects on our daughters…
I know, I know, I know, sometimes,it may seem like your daughters aren’t listening or don’t even pay attention when you talk…but, dear reader, I have evidence that at least SOMETIMES, they listen. Here’s the proof!
Cue the flashback music!…..
“Doodle loodle loo…..Doodle loodle loo…….doodle loodle loo………………..”
(Hey, I don’t have a budget for special effects and a fancy, schmancy soundtrack, so I do what I can.)
Anyway, the year is probably about 2005 or so, and my oldest daughter, Tee was about 12 (13?) years old. At the time, they had three rules that I would give them pretty much EVERY time they left the house. We always followed the same ritual. (It was probably more so to help ME remember the rules than for their benefit….my memory has never been the best, and I needed to make sure I knew what I was punishing them for if the need arose…) I would ask them what each rule was and have them tell me what it meant. It went something like this:
Me: What’s the first rule girls?
Them : Respect ourselves.
Me: what does that mean?
Them: That we should never do anything that we wouldn’t be proud of.
Me: What’s the next rule?
Them: Respect our surroundings.
ME: What does that mean to you?
Them: That we should always know what’s going on around us and pay attention to things so we don’t get hurt.
Me: And the third one?
Them: Act like little ladies.
ME: And what does that mean?
Them: That we should always carry ourselves like ladies. We sit like ladies. We talk like ladies.
So, that was what we went through day in and day out. Now over the course of time, the ritual got shorter and shorter, and eventually it just got to the point where I would just have them recite the rules to me before they got out of the car. I hadn’t had an opportunity to see if they were actually FOLLOWING the rules, and they were never actually put to the test. Heck, I wasn’t even sure that even remembered the rules after the car door slammed……….until….
One day, I took Tee and three of her neighborhood friends to the mall. They were all about the same age, except for one, who was a few years younger. As usual, and without discriminating, I had her AND HER FRIENDS go over the rules with me. I said them one at a time, having them repeat them to me and asking Tee what each one meant. She did it without missing a beat. So I let them get out and go into the mall. I drove off and went home. One of the other girls mothers was going to pick them up in a couple of hours.
About an hour or so later, the phone rings. On the other end is one of the parents. Apparently, the kids had gotten into trouble for trying to steal some jewelry and she was bringing Tee home.
So, of course, when Tee gets there…I was ready to read her the RIOT ACT with both guns a blazin’. I didn’t ask any questions, and we went straight to my room.
“What happened, Tee?”
She looked me right in the eyes and said, “I didn’t do anything wrong, Daddy.” and she began to cry. So, me being the concerned, loving, sensitive Daddy that I am, I thought, “Okay…here she goes with the waterworks to throw me off balance, but I ain’t no SUCKER.” (Yeah…I kinda am…don’t judge me!) She continued to tell me what happened. We didn’t get to talk long before there was another knock at the door. When I answered, I saw the neighbor girl (the young one) and her mom. The daughter, was standing there ; her eyes all red as if she’d rubbed them with sandpaper and flushed them with bleach. The mother asked me if she could talk to Tee for a minute.
I called Tee to the door, and she came and stood beside me in the doorway. The mother then said, “Mr. McDuffie, I want to tell you that your daughter didn’t do anything wrong so don’t be mad at her. Our daughters weren’t stealing from the store. The other two girls were the ones stealing….Our girls were at another store . Security just assumed that because they were in the mall together, that they were in it together. (There’s a LOT more to this story that I’m saving for next time.) Then she looked down at Tee and said, “Thank you for keeping ___________out of trouble.”
The next voice we heard was that of the neighbor girl. What she said hit me like a truck and I’ll NEVER forget the little life lesson that I got from it. With that tiny, scared, still borderline crying voice she said simply…
“……you told them to act like ladies…You TOLD them…..and they didn’t do it. They wouldn’t listen……”
This little girl, who had only heard the rules that I drilled into my daughters ONCE, had taken it to heart. She remembered it! Granted, it was only two of four that heeded it…but that was better than ONE of four, right?
Now, the message behind all of this is larger than this post, and it’s larger than just me, my daughters and their friends. In essence, it ain’t about me and mine, it’s about about YOU and YOURS. If my words could mean that much to her; a little girl that I hardly knew past her first name, apartment number and mother’s name, think how much weight YOUR words carry with all of the potential “little ladies” in your life. God has placed and continues to place them in your path all the time. You have the ability to help guide these little ladies and TRUST me….they listen to you more than you think.
Funny thing is….out of everything that happened that day, the biggest disappointment that BOTH girls seemed to have was that they thought they had let ME down. It wasn’t a trip to the mall suddenly cut short. It wasn’t being questioned by mall security. It wasn’t that their “friends” were now mad at them. (I’ll explain that in part two), but what was most important to them was what I thought of them. Heavy stuff, huh?
I say ALL of the above to simply say this: Your words carry WEIGHT, gents…don’t undervalue yourself.
So until, next Father’s Day, stay encouraged.
I’ll share part two with ya next time.
Thanks for reading.