As parents, we are asked a lot of question. And that is probably putting it mildly.
You are blessed with a child. You are flying by the seat of your pants, doing the best that you possible can do, and yet you haven’t a clue if anything you’re doing is right. The questions start out pretty easy. Adorable actually. “Mommy, why is the sky blue?” “Mommy, where do birds come from?” “Mommy, why do the birds poop on the car?” “Mommy, can we get a bird?” Easy breezy. The sky is blue because it reflects the ocean. Birds come from Hashem. They poop on the car because it is the easiest place to land, and no, we can’t get a bird because your dad/brother/cousin/grandmother is allergic. See, easy breezy parenting.
Then the questions start to get a little harder. “Mommy, why is Betty mean to me?” “Mommy, why doesn’t Sam want to hold my hand during story time?” “Mommy, why can’t I have chocolate milk at lunch when everyone else does?” Still easy breezy! “Betty is mean because she is jealous and too young to express that type of emotion. Just give it time.” “Sam doesn’t want to hold your hand because boys are silly and they just don’t know what a good thing is even if it is right in front of them. Just give it time.” “You can’t have chocolate milk at lunch because you take after your mother and have a classic pear shape that only gets worse with the constant consumption of chocolate milk. Sorry kid!”
And then they get even harder. “But Mommy, he told me that he loved me and now he is going out with someone else!!” “Mom, why does she look so different in the exact same outfit that I am wearing?” “Mom, why won’t you let me sleep over at Betty’s house?” Here we go again…. “Sweetheart, never believe a man unless you are certain that he is just like your father and will never do anything to hurt you or bring you down.” “Honey, I have told you before, you are shaped like a pear and pears look different than other fruits in the same clothes. We will find the perfect style for you.” “You really want to sleep over at Betty’s after the way she treated you last year?”
Do any of the answers stick? I am only asking what I would assume are the things that daughters talk to their moms about. That was really not how it went for me when I was growing up.
My dad was the one who I came to with all of my questions. Sometimes he was able to look up the answers in one of his very many (and I mean very, very, very many) books, and he usually did come up with a great answer. And the ones he wasn’t sure of, he would just say, “I trust you, Banji. You’re a smart kid.” Sometimes this worked and sometimes it didn’t. But I knew with 100 percent certainty that he was on my side and would never let me feel alone.
And I always knew that I could call him any time, day or night. If he was at the hospital, I just asked for Dr. Latkin in labor and delivery, and they would put me through. I was always so proud when I would make that call. I quickly learned who all of the nurses were. And they all would tell me how lucky I was to have Dr. Latkin as a father. But they never had to tell me that, because I already knew it.
He was my big, strong daddy, who might not have been able to fix anything, but he would take those directions and try his best. Was he successful? Sometimes. But his true success was being my dad. I was not easy. (Surprised? Really?) But he always reminded me about the good stuff. The characteristics I had that made me special. I know that I didn’t always succeed in doing that with my boys, but I really, really tried.
A few hours after I wrote this, my father passed away. It is really a little nutty how awful these past few months have been for my family, but this is life. There is good and there is bad and there is also the choice to concentrate on the good and not let the bad take all of that good and beauty and joy away from you.
Wishing you a beautiful Memorial Day weekend!
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck is going to spending even more quality time with Husband #1 than she originally thought. Don’t worry. There are no weapons in the house.