I am convinced that my father was born with a newspaper in one tiny hand and a neck tie instead of an umbilical cord. I mean this in the most complimentary way possible; the man has a work ethic that can make any zealous overachiever feel lazy. As a kid, I hardly appreciated or even noticed how tirelessly he worked to support my family and me.
Similar to most of my friends, my childhood was dominated by my cheerful, arts and crafts-loving mother, who stayed home to raise my siblings and me. My father spent as much time as he could with me and I loved every minute of it, but he wasn’t exactly an “arts and crafts” guy. In fact, when I look back on old photographs from the early ‘90s, I have to laugh at the sight of my dad awkwardly playing Barbies with me. He was (and is) the type who preferred to assemble toys for his kids, rather than play along with them.
Since then, I’ve come a long way from Barbies. Like millions of other young adults in America today, I am a college student who is earnestly (and often laughably) trying to seem like I know what I’m doing. This is where my relationship with my dad has suddenly increased tenfold: a businessman since birth certainly has an easier time talking to his daughter about student loans and politics than about glitter and cute boys. And far from being boring, I’ve found this both informative and oddly heartwarming.
My slow transition from sheltered suburbia into reality has allowed my father and me to really develop camaraderie, punctuated by whisper-fights about the economy in Italian restaurants and easy chats about the Pope’s resignation. He has always loved and supported me, but now when I call him on the phone, we can talk for much longer. My “English major” roots often clash with his practicality and logic, and as stubborn as we both are, we enjoy it immensely.
I won’t kid myself; we are far from equal and I still have a ton to learn. Remnants from my childhood still hold a sweet presence in our relationship (he called me yesterday to tell me about the new “Great and Powerful Oz” movie, just because he remembers my obsession with “The Wizard of Oz” when I was six years old). In some ways, I will always be a child to my father, but in the most important ways, I have grown up. I can hardly call myself a true adult just yet, but it’s much easier to forage through the real world with a friend by my side.