Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Painting My Daughter

I began writing and reading blogs just over two years. It began with my need to voice my opinion on my second trip to Korea, and as a way to communicate with my family back home, without having to "email" photos back and forth. It was a great way for them to see my adventures and to share in my experience.

At about the same time, I created my blog about Noodle (my now 6 year old daughter). It was a fun way to post ideas about being a dad, raising a vegan child, and also the need to express my feelings about raising a "hapa" child.

There didn't seem to be a lot of voices out there two years ago, until I began writing, and suddenly found voices all over the world. I was tracking comments and visitors and getting hits from people in South Africa, Australia, Denmark, Russia, South America, and Asia (imagine).

I couldn't believe that there were people out there reading my blog, no matter how small and relatively simple it was, and that they were commenting on my thoughts. It was nerve racking to think that what I said and did, might influence someone.

That is, someone I didn't know. As a teacher, and a dad, I'm always aware that whatever I do or say will eventually end up coming out of someone's mouth in the future. My actions will directly lead to their actions in the future.

No, that isn't self-importance, it's the truth.

Which leads me to today's revelation. There are two types of painters in the world (not counting those who do it as their job): those who use a heavy hand to finish quickly, and those who paint light to do it right.

I’m the kind who takes his time. I believe it was Mary Poppins who said, “a job worth doing, is a job worth doing right.” I believe if you're going to start a paint project in your master bedroom, you should do it right and clean and use a light hand and several coats.

However, when you’re a single dad who has to get the house done and you just can’t leave your six-year-old daughter playing downstairs all day, you have to let her help paint. Especially after you see her beg you to let her paint for the twelfth time in 18 minutes. And thus, you must also let her get messy and allow the wall to look a bit messy. After all, you can always paint over it.

So yesterday, as I was watching her paint the wall a light mysterious gray, I kept cringing each time she dripped paint on the carpet even though it's getting torn out and replaced. I kept gritting my teeth when she used her brush wrong to smear paint over the wall, rather than "apply" paint on the wall. And I was frustrated when she kept getting paint on herself despite my best effort to teach her to dip the tips of the brush into the paint and to hold the brush out and up.

And yet, as she smeared gray over the wall, covering the pee-colored yellow that the former owner had painted, I wanted to say something more to her. But, I realized, that I was becoming her kind of painter.

Sometimes in life, when teaching our children things in life, we dads use a heavy hand. Whether it’s for a moral lesson, or a dangerous moment when they’re about to run into the parking lot, or to get them to do something that they should have done and have refused, we dads know how to lay it on thick.

I can have long conversations with Noodle about how her actions make me feel, and how she needs to act better, and that she needs to apologize, and how it isn’t nice to not listen to daddy, and how if she doesn’t behave better there will be consequences, and that she needs to apologize again, and if she even knows what punishment and consequence means, and why she won’t listen when I’m . . .

And then I realize, she’s six and can’t soak up my ten minute lesson and all this information, and I begin to think that I’ve gone overboard. So I back off, give her a hug, tell her I love her, and hope that if I use a lighter touch, that with a couple of coats, and a good primer, the end result will be beautiful.

10 comments:

daddy in a strange land said...

Welcome to RiceDaddies, P2H. Very nice story, dude...

winterskeeper said...

great writing - I enjoyed your post very much.

Mama Nabi said...

ah... you see, I am already getting ulcer pains imagining this. I think I need to learn to let things go a little and remind myself how old my daughter is as well. Thanks for the reminder.

papa2hapa said...

Thanks for the welcome! It feels good to be a RD in the big picture!

Grace said...

Yes. I know what you mean. It's sometimes hard to step back and let things just happen (spoken from a totally Type A Mama). [sigh]

carosgram said...

Sounds like you are a 'good primer'. Thinking of you and wishing you the best

秋色天空 said...

Great story. Good daddy. I'm your Chinese reader.

vincent said...

Hi,

I was moved by your post. It reminded me of a painful incident I had with my eldest. I started to write a comment but it got long and became my first post on Rice Daddies.

vincent said...

Hi,

I wanted to let you know that I was moved by your post. My original comment I composed actually ended up being my first Rice Daddies post. (I sent a similar comment earlier but am not sure it was done successfully)

youngsterNYC said...

Hi,

I've tried to leave a comment twice before but technology thwarted me. They said the third time's the charm so here I go...

Your post really moved me. I didn't know how much until my original comment turned into my first Rice Daddies post.

Thanks.