Confession: I wasn’t always the best student. In high school, I was too busy being a cheerleader and socializing with my friends, that I found myself neglecting my studies. As a full-time professor today, this is tough to admit. As I matured, school became much more important to me, and even when I went through the MFA program and completed it last year, I wanted to give all that I had to the program. This sense of direction stems from past work experiences and schooling, but it also comes directly from my parents, and my father, The Enforcer.
If I remember it correctly—and I think I have almost a photographic memory about it—I brought home a rather pitiful report card one quarter. My mother threw it on the table and said what many mothers say: “Wait until your father sees this.”
My dad came home from a long day of work and looked it. He’s a calm man, and he gently said, “Get these grades up. They’re not acceptable. If you don’t, you’ll lose privileges like having the telephone and stereo in your room.”
The next quarter, they weren’t much better. I was on the floor of my room doing homework (or pretending to do homework) when my dad came in and, without a word, took the telephone out of its jack and out of the room. Strike one. Communication cut-off.
You would have thought I might have learned a lesson. In an age where there were no cell phones, I relied on that blue princess telephone as my primary means of communication with my friends. The phone didn’t stop ringing from the time I got home from school until the time I went to bed. But alas, I didn’t learn my lesson, and the next quarter, again with a poor demonstration of performance on my report card, my father knocked on my door and wheeled the cart that contained my stereo and speakers right out of my room. The next thing I knew, they were up in the attic. Strike two. The absence of music.
When I was threatened with the punishment of not being allowed out on the weekends with my friends, I woke up. I worked harder and got my grades to where they should have been all along.
As a parent now myself, I’m sure it wasn’t easy for my dad to punish me and stick to it, but he did. He was The Enforcer, and along with my mother, they taught me what’s important in life…family, friends, working hard, and always trying to do your best.
So, this Father’s Day, I want to thank my dad for instilling in me that you should always try your best, give it your all, strive to achieve what you want, because when you do, you can feel nothing but satisfaction and pride with regard to the effort you gave it.
Happy Father’s Day to fathers out there everywhere who always try to give their all, and especially for giving their all to helping their children be all they can be as well.