There is a special kind of love that only a dad can give. Maybe this is just for girls, maybe not. Anyone that knows me probably knows the special place dad holds in my heart. I have the fondest memories of him. Maybe because the memories of Ma are mainly about being mercilessly whipped and being shamelessly embarrassed in front of people. Or, perhaps because at the beginning of my teen-age, dad never punished me even when I was expected to be whooped for almost eloping at one time. Most would say I’m a father’s girl. But I partly disagree because, both my parents adore me and I love them beyond measure. Ma needed to be tough to raise eight of us but dad needed to tone down otherwise we’d have all run away and left just the two of them to each other. Ma was tough, still is. A no-nonsense woman. She’d whip you anywhere and with anything. She’d embarrass you without caring about your feelings. Being a highly opinionated human always landed me in most trouble with her but dad always came to my rescue. I’d say whatever I wanted when he was around but whenever he left, Ma would compound the punishments. Ma is the kind of person that would whip you if you refused to eat. Dad would say it’s okay if you’re not hungry. I particularly loved dad as a kid because he did not force me to down an entire cup of porridge for example. Anyway, today being Father’s Day, I want to share six invaluable lessons that I learnt(and still do) from dad as a woman. Lessons every woman needs to sail through this sometimes cruel-ish universe.
Punishment doesn’t always have to be physical
Punishment shouldn’t be aimed at bringing harm. It should instead teach lessons and make the recipient become a better person. I barely remember dad physically whipping us. It could be because Ma did it all the time and that’s why he was toned down on physically ‘harming us’ .It could also be because he knew a better way of instilling morals in us than going berserk on our butts. While my mum would hit you with anything in her reach; cooking stick with hot steaming pap, a panga, knife, githeri sufuria-you name it; dad would torture you psychologically. I have watched him cane one of my siblings once and that was all. What I can’t say is how many times he played mind games on us. He once asked one of my brothers who had been suspended for sneaking out of school to eat 42 moldy chapatis with tea as the rest of us watched. Of course he didn’t eat them but that was my brother’s turning point. He was transferred schools and was never suspended ever again. I can’t explain the occurrence of that evening. Maybe my elder siblings can but my mum, the family disciplinarian was also in awe.
If you want a good life, you have to work for it
I have never asked Ma but I think dad made a terrible boyfriend. She probably fell for him because of the looks and his focus. I also think the reason dad chose mum for a life partner is because Ma was well schooled and had an income of her own. They have collectively made eight of us lead a beautiful life though I still believe if dad lived in this century, he’d most likely die a bachelor because his money hardly comes out his pocket. You have to earn it. I grew up in a home where I got what I wanted. That was the case until I completed high school. After that, my parents used to collectively give me $1 as airtime allowance every week. That wasn’t enough. One day I decided to rant and dad openly said that he was giving me money so that men do not confuse me on my way to school and that since I am done with school, I could do whatever I wanted with myself. I know this came from a good place but it pricked my heart like a needle does to a jigger haven on a smooth toe. I was in college then. I furiously quit and began looking for a job and I am glad to report that I learnt to look for and earn money before I joined Uni. I’d have otherwise been a spoilt kid who was always entitled. I’m glad it happened at an early stage in life; grateful to my old man.
Speaking with finality
This was a low key lesson. Dad always and still asks me to speak like I know what I want. Growing up, I’d always get a ‘no’ for an answer if I ever asked for something even if he knew it was a need and not a want. He always wants me to tell him, not to ask. I know speaking with finality has made a few humans hate me in this life but that isn’t my fault. To understand this point, refer to Deborah Tannen’s Genderlect theory. According to dad,things won’t come easy.Especially as a girl,the world would want you to beg even for what is rightfully yours. I’d call dad a feminist because it is from him that I learnt that the only difference between men and women is their biological make-up.We might be wired differently but that never made the women in my parents’ homestead any less than men. My old man has always encouraged to stand up for ourselves and speak against injustices even if it’s an uncle or an elder brother that is propagating them.He argues that speaking with finality makes people know that you do know what you want in life.It’s indeed a good sign.You should never doubt your worth even when you’re the only woman on the table.You are there because that’s where you’re supposed to be.
Always thirst for knowledge
I picked my reading culture from my dad. Dad would never buy me a pair of shoes. Never. Not even if it is an auction from Princess Diana’s closet. Yes, Princess Diana because she’s the second woman dad ever sensually loved after Ma. But dad would, still up to date, come home with a book from a bookstore for me not caring whether I earn and I can go get it myself. He believes in substantial knowledge. He keeps telling me, “You can’t just sit pretty with nothing in-between your ears.” Harsh, but true. He constantly reminds me that being a woman and the responsibilities that come with womanhood should never make me drop the urge to read. From him, I have also noticed that books provide some kind of escape from the real world which all of us need at some point in life. I have learnt that knowledge is timeless and invaluable. That wealth might be lost but the knowledge you acquire will always stick with you. It will make you see the world differently. I hope my future children find quest for knowledge as intriguing as I do.
Your opinion matters to you, voice it
Those that know me probably know that I am highly opinionated. Often times, Ma would ask me to shut up but dad always fueled me to speak up. I remember when I was selected to join a far away high school and Ma was worried about heading to a different geographical region with a difference in tribe etc. She wanted me to enroll in a nearby school supposedly for security reasons(I have always appreciated her caring soul). Dad didn’t let that happen. He always believed that I’d survive. He knew that he needed to prepare me for harder things in life and I’m forever grateful. Dad always reminds me that he knows how unjust the world is especially to women, but that I shouldn’t think things will always be made easy for me because I was born a female. He reminds me to work for it and to speak up and say whatever it is I need to say. It is funny that it’s him that has taught me how to ask for a pay raise and what to say if I want a certain job(I’m job-hunting btw). I once complained to him after I felt that a CEO of a certain organization I worked for as an intern was being sexually inappropriate with me. Dad told me he isn’t sure if I am saying the truth but if anything is being done that I do not agree with then I should call it out.I quit then because I was scared of how the world would react but since then,I’ve learnt to handle matters the grown way.
Don’t squander everything, Invest
I probably didn’t know that investment was until I was in campus. One day in a very random conversation, my old man reminded me that him and Ma will not always be there and I should find things that would bring me passive income. Something I can always count on and divert my energy to even if I never got employed after graduation. That is how I became a farmer. He taught me not to wait for a wealthy prince charming to come and sweep me off my feet. He clearly put it that this prince charming might never show up and while he might, he might need my support so I should put my finances in check. This was the time when the only finances I had was a very inconsistent HELB loan and of course pocket money from him and Ma. Good lesson that was. Even in his late sixties, dad finds it archaic to solely depend on a man. He appreciates the role Ma has played in his life and acknowledges that it is mostly Ma that held things up when they seemed to fall apart. He still debunks the thought that men do not want women that make more than they do. According to him, women should not be afraid of losing life partners because the amount of money they make. To him, men intimidated by a woman’s cheque are narcissist who only want to see women suffer. I am happy that a father of six grown ass men creates time to go with me in land-buying negotiation forums. He’s taught me how to traditionally survey and measure a piece of land without the use of modern technology for instance. I hope I’ll make this old man proud soon.
What are some of the lessons you’ve learnt from your dad?