Check this out – your birthday is next week and all I can afford to give you is a shout-out in the campus rag. It’s not like this is a surprise – your birthday’s been on the same day for the past 39 years. However, lack of budgeting skills combined with my desperate need for Janet Jackson’s “All For You” CD/DVD have left me penniless on your special day.
I guess this is why you’re the responsible parent. I can’t recall a time when you sacrificed my well being for a CD or some Timberlands. Whether it was shelling out two grand to send me to France or $350 because I decided that fighting in school six weeks before graduation was a grand idea, you always took care of me.
Perhaps that’s why I’m so picky about the men I date now – I have this ridiculous belief that a real man takes care of the women he loves. Guys here at FAMU would say you’ve spoiled me, though – that TalTran, dates in the cafÃ©, two-for-one coupons, and visits with his roommate in the other bed shouldn’t matter.
Hey, call me uppity.
That’s not to say that all of your ideas were gold. I recall the times you let me run away from home, going to the grocery store with me in my best, frilly slip complete with Sunday shoes, and having you “coach” me in basketball. But I can appreciate it now. Nothing showed how much you loved me more than hearing you curse at some official during my volleyball-playing days at St. Phillip’s Catholic School.
You were young father – a month from twenty when I was born – and your lack of childcare experience was sometimes wildly apparent. But good, bad, or flat-out wrong, you’ve always treated me like your own. You’ve been my pops for nearly seventeen years, which puts you about 6, 205 days ahead of that dude who claims to be my father.
I don’t know when he’s going to have his annual urge for fatherhood again, but I do know that he won’t be on my arm giving me away when it’s time. That right has already been earned.
So here’s to you, on your special day. I’m proud to be your baby girl and if I had the chance to do it all over again and not give you half the hell I did, I would.
J. Danielle Daniels, 19, is a sophomore political science student from Dallas. She dedicates this column to her stepfather, Dwight Higgs, who turns 40 on December 3rd.