When you have ten children and work full-time, it’s not the easiest thing to make each of them feel special or to get to know them individually. My father juggled this aspect of fatherhood by instituting a 'My Day Out with Daddy'.
Every Saturday (except for the ones during our travels) Daddy would take one of us children out for most of the day. We would tag along with him to work (if he had work) and decide what we wanted to do with the rest of the day, including where we wanted to eat lunch. He would ask us all sorts of questions and encourage us in school or in our extracurricular activities. We could ask him whatever we wanted. We thought that Daddy knew everything because he always had a well-thought-out answer to our questions. Once, he even sat down with one of my brothers and explained, with drawings, how every part of a car worked.
Because our Saturdays came so far between, they were treasured. We rarely (if ever) shared our Saturdays with another sibling because Daddy wanted to give us each his focus.
I asked my siblings for some help with some of their favourite memories from their Saturdays. Burger King came up more than once! We all seemed to have enjoyed tagging along to work, exploring his office, being fawned over by his colleagues, and going on tours of the Jamaica Broiler’s Chicken Processing Plant. Based on our individual proclivities, he would often find himself at Source of Life (a Christian bookstore), a gas station, a store or pharmacy where we would buy Archie Comics, Calvin and Hobbes, Popular Mechanics, gun and car magazines, toys, or novels. One of my younger brothers even got to travel overseas because Daddy had a business meeting on his Saturday. Daddy taught most of us how to shoot a gun when we came of age (at 13). I remember crying when it was my turn because the revolver was terrifyingly loud - but I eventually got the hang of shooting.
On one of my Saturdays, we visited a boutique where we spied a beautiful wine red and cream wedding dress in the display window. (It looked more like a ball gown than a wedding dress.) I was in eleventh grade and Daddy said that he loved the dress for me. So we went inside and examined it and then left the store with happy thoughts about our ‘cheesecake’ gown. (We didn’t actually buy it).
A few months later, I decided to enter the Miss Saint Andrew Beauty Pageant (for my high school). Daddy expressed enthusiasm for my endeavour even though he was concerned at my timidity. The Boutique happened to be one of the sponsors of the pageant. Upon seeing the same cheesecake gown in the batch of evening wear, I immediately chose it for my gown and happily went home to tell Daddy. That settled any angst he had about my entering the competition and our dress gave me the additional confidence I needed to believe that I could win. I ended up coming second in the pageant, and figured out how to overcome my timidity.
One thing that I can emphatically say is that my Daddy is his children’s greatest advocate. In his eyes, there is no ceiling containing us. It wasn’t difficult for us to believe that we could achieve anything we put our wills to because Daddy believed in us. If we wanted to sing, we were already the best singers he’d ever heard. If we wanted to join the military, he already saw us as generals. If we wanted to sell homemade burgers at school, he could already see the multifaceted businesses that we would create.
Now I look at my brothers and brothers-in-law entering the hallowed ranks of fatherhood and I look forward to watching them raise my growing brood of nieces and nephews. I hope that they become their children's advocates too.
My heavenly Father made daddy the great father that he is to me. I’m proud he calls me daughter and I’m blessed to call him father.