“Dad and me and Dad” – Mind Talk

"Dad and me and Dad" - Mind Talk

My dad and I. A stranger pair you would probably never find, but that’s a better thing than it sounds you know. Needless to say, he and I have a strange relationship that would take me at least three volumes to explain. As it was Father’s Day here recently, I find this more than fitting to speak about and it’ll likely bring me a bit of closure. He and I have a past that we are both not exactly happy about, but these days we have that silent, unspoken love that you can feel but never really acknowledge until you absolutely have to.

My dad was never really in my life in my younger years, no matter how much he would like to deny this. My mother was always the one who came to the prize-givings, attended the school concerts and picked me up from school on the daily. Furthermore, he only started helping me with homework last year… and I am seventeen. So when he and my mom got divorced, he was plunged into a life with his young boy who he really didn’t know. “Oh yes, he’s good at… what is he good at again?” Okay, it wasn’t that bad, he at least knew I was a strong academic. But my daily routine, the music I liked and simple things like eating preferences and clothing preferences were really a fathomless puzzle to him. Even today, he still doesn’t know me all that well, but he knows I am good at Maths, English and Accounting and that I run pretty fast, but only against myself. He’s made up the groundwork of eleven years in a steady five and a half, and for this he needs to be commended. “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” and all that jazz.

Plunged into trying to take care of a “slowly-becoming-disrespectful” adolescent, we enlisted help wherever it came, from my gran making us food nearly every night to me seeing a psychologist all through the pre-teen years that just make you feel like death is a great plan. If you know me, you know my suicidal tendencies and my need to dramatise everything; hey, I can’t help it.

Two years down the line, when he just seemed to be finding his feet, I came out as gay to my mom. She then told my dad, who was quite easily shocked. Here is a boy who is apparently your son, who has been doing this and that and the next thing for two years. You know him to be this way and now he’s telling people he’s another way? At my meagre age of twelve, I didn’t understand it, but I think I have it now. He was shocked out of his mind and this shock pushed him into utter, utter disbelief. Me being younger me, I would impress the idea at the most inopportune moments, like at the Total garage on the way home or over the dinner table when my stepmom was in the bathroom. She’s another story, but with my homosexuality, I’ve always been a little wearisome. I don’t think she is able to understand it because she fails to understand her co-workers in simple social environments. Homosexuality is as complex as it gets for a teenager. Do I like boys, do I like girls or do I like both? And who cares? Nowadays, I treat the subject as taboo around the pair of them, as I don’t want to strike up another “keep an open mind” argument. It will end with me crying and shouting and breaking up the last few years that have run so smoothly. Important to note is that when I was transitioning from grade 8 to grade 9, I wrote my dad quite a strong letter, listing six or seven points that seemed to be bothering me about my home life. I remember clearly that number four was as follows: “I AM GAY AND 100% SURE AND IT’S NOT GOING TO CHANGE!” I wrote in Caps for emphasis at the time, we sat and spoke about the letter when my stepmom went shopping and we’ve never touched the subject of my homosexuality again. Now, I know it could all change tomorrow, and let me tell you, I could welcome the change. But right now, right this minute, I have five possible men I want to marry and I am happy about that. I am more than happy to say that I am proud to be gay and nobody will stop me.

I remember fondly that I didn’t want to go to high school. I had told my mom in December 2012 (a year after I had discovered I was gay) that I didn’t want to go because I was scared. I didn’t exactly tell her what I was scared of, but hey, I think by now we can all work that out. For those a little slower on the uptake, I was scared of being ridiculed for being out and gay. I had spent a year bringing myself to feel proud in my skin and tell people that I was gay, not just that I liked boys. Now I was going to go to high school and be forced back into that stuffy closet, damn. And then there would be all the cute boys that would either be straight or not like me because I was at the low self-esteem, “I feel ugly” stage. Now I see that there are plenty of gay boys at my school (under speculation) that are far too scared to come out, and that I was worried for nothing because there really isn’t much at my school anyway! Anyhow, my mom had failed thus far to reassure me, but when my dad heard that I was scared and didn’t actually want to go, he sat on the edge of my bed and we spoke a bit. It was a Sunday night and he told me that as long as I kept to my friends, made new friends and didn’t cause too much shit that I would be fine. And I was fine. For the first time that I can remember, my dad had succeeded where my mom had just fallen short. No disrespect to her, but mom, he beat you that time (hehe).

Last year, I chose my subjects to take me to the end of my school career and Maths and Accounting cropped up. My dad lives for them both, as he often proudly proclaims, “They are such logical subjects and men are logical people, especially me.” Wonder where I get my ego from? Yeah, me too. I digress, again. He started helping me, as we have both grown more patient the last few years, and my marks were looking good, especially for Accounting. Now that Commerce is my chosen university field, my dad has gone on overdrive to help me with Accounting. We actually sat one whole Sunday afternoon doing a project – I’ll admit, he helped with the theory, but I did most of it, okay!? Background info: my dad never got to finish his Accounting degree, and my mom and stepmom both agree he’s taking such an interest because he knows I am more than capable of picking up where he left off and excelling in the field he loves so much. In a way, he is living his dream through his child, which isn’t healthy, I know. But only if I didn’t want to do Accounting. Lucky then that I live for Accounting about as much as he does.

My dad, then, is pretty awesome. And yes, he’s better than yours too, so don’t argue. We are good at that too. I have grown to appreciate my father, no matter how absent he was for nearly eleven years. And I hope that you all appreciate your fathers as well. I mean, without him, you wouldn’t be you, would you?

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