20 Observations on Parenting

  1. You’ve reached peak parenting when you’re required to read to your daughter’s stuffed animals.
  2. My daughter keeps asking me to braid her hair and I never know what to do so it’s like hey here’s another ponytail
  3. Once I brought her a cheeseburger happy meal instead of the chicken nuggets she always gets. Frankly, I could’ve murdered Olaf and gotten less drama.
  4. Irony: Asking for a bite of something you paid for.
  5. I’m in awe of the way she treats her plush dolls. She thanked Sadness and Officer Hopps for being her bffs, then scolded Pooh for betraying her trust and if Pooh did it again he’d be exiled from the friendship guild. A child’s imagination is something you do not mess with.
  6. My daughter loves playing hide and seek at Target and never tell me that we’re playing hence why I bring the iPad into the store now
  7. Other times she likes to play hot lava and honestly how can I not?
  8. I mistakenly ate one of her lunchables and blamed it on Pooh
  9. I’ve made roughly a thousand promises assuring she’ll get ice cream after dinner. She hasn’t cashed in on them yet and I’m truly terrified of the day when she does.
  10. Parenting is just good negotiating.
  11. Once my daughter finished her homework before we even got home and I contemplated if she was truly my kid
  12. Then there are days when she refuses to do her homework and I’m like that’s my girl
  13. The thing about also being a Disney fan alongside my daughter is that we can never agree on what to watch like sure we can do Frozen but what about Moana
  14. I’ve never been angrier at her than when she caught a Pikachu before I did like this was from my generation wth
  15. Incredibly surreal to have my daughter in school. I’ve had to sign a few forms now and I catch myself faking my mom’s signature
  16. Whenever she falls asleep in the car I’m just like hell yeah it’s my turn at the Moana soundtrack
  17. Parenting is good distracting.
  18. Once at McDonald’s my daughter asked me why my meal doesn’t come with a toy like hers does. CARE TO EXPLAIN YOURSELF, RONALD???
  19. All this time I thought I was zoning out during Elena of Avalor but I realize I’m hooked like when are they gonna do another Sofia the First crossover because that last one was delightful
  20. Nowadays, when I say it’s nap time my daughter tells me, “We don’t nap anymore,” to which I say, “Well do.”

I love you, sweetie. Thank you for making these last six years the strangest and the most rewarding experiences of my life. Never grow up.

Letters to My Daughter – Part 3

Dear Shania,

It’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these. I’ve been meaning to write to you. But as soon as I write down “Dear Shania,” that’s as far as I get. Not because I don’t have anything to say to you. Believe me, I have everything and more to say. But it’s everything, the memories and the regrets, that come to haunt me.

Today is so painfully, incredibly bittersweet. You are 4 years old now. Amazing how the years seem to pass by. Unfortunately, it also means another year and another birthday I’ve had to miss. When you’re older, I hope you’ll understand. Just a few months after you were born, I was at a crossroads: stay and take care of you, or leave for college and try to give you a better life, the life you deserve. Needless to say, I haven’t been happy with the decision I made at the airport that day. Ironic, isn’t it? Even as I’m here now in the throes of finals, that’s not even what’s keeping me up at night. No. It’s the overwhelming guilt that torments me in my sleep. I am no Peter Pan. Not a hero, let alone a father. I came here to give you a better life. But I didn’t realize it would mean leaving my place in yours.

The day you were born, I was afraid of the kind of parent I’d become. But now I have faced something far more terrifying: never having existed in your life. I’ve caught glimpses of it. I’m afraid that as you play with grandma and grandpa, you’ll ask about me, and, when they remind you why I’m gone, you’ll search the house for me anyway. Grandma tells me these things. How you climb the mountain of stairs to my room and knock on my door, asking if I’d like to build a snowman. I do, Shania. I really do. And it breaks my heart knowing that I can’t be there to tell you. Hearing such stories makes me truly wish I was Peter Pan, so that I could fly to your window and wake us both up from this nightmare.

I miss you so much. I may not say it to you every time we’re on the phone. I mean to. I just seem to forget once you begin your stories about your lovely adventures. How you and grandma went to the store and she allowed you to pick out your favorite candy, and later, how you went home and watched Frozen for the umpteenth time. Or about how grandpa was watering the front lawn and you asked to help and he let you take charge of the nozzle, spraying wildly and getting the two of you soaking wet. For those few minutes, I forget that there’s a body of ocean between us. Phone in hand, I feel as though I’m right there with you.

When I don’t have the luxury of talking to you, I listen to the countless voicemails you’ve left me. I never deleted a single one. I continue to keep and cherish them, even when my inbox advises me otherwise. I just listen. I hear you running away with grandma’s phone, her shrieking in the background asking who you’re calling. You tell her it’s me. “Dad?” you say over and over with such blind hope that I’ll answer. And it hurts because once again I’m not there to answer the door. At the same time, I’ve never been so happy to check my voicemail because by some miracle, you remember who I am. You never forgot about me, even when I’ve given you so many reasons why you should.

I’m graduating this week, and though I know you can’t make it, it doesn’t sadden me one bit. Because in a few months’ time, I’ll finally be coming home. I’ve just got a few more things to take care of on my own, the first being that I have to work my way back to you. I’m sure grandma and grandpa can attest to the sheer pile of debt that I’ve dug them both in. Five years ago, they made a deal with me. They’d help me with any major expense so long as I’m enrolled in school. Food, textbooks, a plane ticket home. This weekend being my commencement, that deal no longer applies, which means I have to earn my ticket home. It’s the final among the last few hurdles I’ll be facing. I never thought I’d see this day after so many months gone, so many tears shed. This is my odyssey.

When I’d come home over the summer, I’d often remind you that I’m nothing more than a friend. Your partner in crime. Because I can’t call myself a father to you after being there for only a few months out of the year. My parents have gladly taken over that mantle in my absence, and they are far better parents than I could ever be, for which I am eternally grateful. Despite all this, you still call me dad. I don’t know how or why, but you just seem to remember. You’ve never given up on me, not once, even when I gave up on myself. That alone is enough to guide me through this home stretch. It’s what I’ve been dreaming of ever since I got on that plane four years ago. It’s been a long, agonizing road, but I am almost there. Slowly but surely, I am making my way back to Neverland. I just have one more adventure to finish, and I promise it’ll make for one hell of story to tell.

I love you, Shania. Happy birthday.

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Letters to My Daughter – Part 2

Dear Chanaiyah,

Summer has come to an end, and so has my stay on Maui. I wish I didn’t have to go. I wish I could stay. I wish for so many things. Weeks have passed since I left, yet I can’t stop thinking about my last moments with you. I was still packing, still rushing, going back and forth from room to room. And no matter where I was in that house, you always seemed to find your way. Over and over again you came bouncing through that door and took me by the hand, leading me to go somewhere, anywhere. I couldn’t stop smiling because on we went, circling the living room, the kitchen, and back again. I would have walked around the entire island with you so long as you were leading the way. In those precious little moments, you showed me the absolute joy of life, which in turn reminded me to have fun once in a while. But now, I find it hard to remember such things, especially when there’s no one to take me by the hand anymore.

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Letters to My Daughter – Part 1

Dear Chanaiyah,

Happy birthday sweetie! That’s right, today is your day and no one else’s. Some people may think it’s their day too, but you and I know the truth: this day belongs to you. My my my, I can’t believe a year has gone by! So much has happened and even then it’s just the beginning. I swear it was only yesterday when I first held you. And I remember everything about that day. The sun stood high in the sky and the air was scorching. I started to sweat, but I was trembling. Nervous to see you, worried about what you’d think of me, yet all the more anxious. And when I cradled you in my arms, I collapsed inside. Oh how fragile you were and oh so precious. I remember you opened your eyes only slightly. Then, your cheeks bunched up together to form a bright smile. It’s as if you knew I was there with you. And it’s that very same smile that seems to make me stupid all over again. I try to find ways to describe that smile of yours, but every time I’m stuck. It’s like anything worth saying won’t do you any justice. Better to keep quiet and focus on your every movement. It’s not like you’d complain anyway since you like having all the attention. That’s right you do, you sweet little princess you.

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What Keeps Me Going

Inspirations are the forces within that drive you internally, pushing you to be better. We all have a source of inspiration. They come in the form of ideas that grab a hold of you upon first inception, or beliefs that we hold on to until the very end. Even in the form of people, whom we strive to become or ultimately fight for. Nevertheless, we hold them dear to us as a constant reminder keep moving forward.

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