I am my father's first daughter, first college student, and first born. When there is a problem between myself and either (sometimes both) of my siblings, as long as I manage to talk to my father, the situation is usually resolved in my favor. Whenever I need (read: want) something, it is always to daddy that I go running. I am a daddy's girl, and proud of it. I like to think that I am his favorite child, though every time I actually get the nerve to put that down on paper, another side of me tells me that is untrue. What is true, however, is that my father and I have a certain bond that my mother and I, for all our efforts, do not (and I fear, cannot) share. It is the universal bond of father to daughter.
I am a mistake, in my mother's terms. She was not planning on me, she was not ready for me, and at the time I was conceived, I'm not sure she even wanted me. My father, on the other hand, felt quite the opposite. In his eyes, I was not a mistake, I was his hope. He somehow convinced my mother to go without any form of birth-control for one week – only one – and if she did not get pregnant in that time, he would never bother her about having a child again. I'm still not sure why she gave in; perhaps a tiny bit of her did want a child, and certainly when she got used to the idea of me, love blossomed. Either way, it is because of my father's begging that I exist, and because of this, I am hugely grateful to him.
Of my parents, my father and I are the most alike as I've heard to be true in many cases. Frida Kahlo for instance was much like her father, as is Ashrita, my best friend from India. We have the same eyes, the same ears, and nearly the same dispositions. We are both avid story tellers (although his are oral while mine are written), we seek silence and seclusion when confused or frustrated, and prefer to avoid any uncomfortable topic. Conversations like why on earth I failed math (again) last at most five minutes with my father, each of us agreeing on the proper consequence (while that same conversation may last up to an hour with my mother and leave us both discontent and furious).
When I was small, not yet even one, my father would hook the baby-swing to the ceiling above the desk where he worked. He would sing to me, talk to me, tell me his homemade stories, and sometimes even try to teach me the little Italian he knew. As I grew older, I stayed by his desk, first helping to address the packages, then put the orders together and ready them for mailing, and finally was even trusted to process incoming money. But always it was my father and me, singing out of tune and telling stories.
When I decided I wanted to play basketball and convinced him that I was serious, he bought a basketball hoop and a ball, and drilled me everyday after he came home from his day job. He taught me to block out, to dribble, not to be afraid of the (many) players who were bigger than me, and that skill wasn't going to come easily; I needed to work. In fourth grade, I decided to play the flute, and despite no musical talent (and a hatred for school music), he came to every single one of my concerts. When I finally reached high-school math, he worked with me every night in an attempt to make me understand algebra, and then geometry. My junior year, he gave in the fact that I was not going to follow his footsteps and become a chemist.
That did not mean he was done with me however. He bought me books – fiction, nonfiction, mythology, and even one very large encyclopedia – and then insisted I start entering writing contests. I fought him for a long time, but eventually he won out, and I agreed to enter a short story contest being held in Ann Arbor my senior year. When we discovered I had placed third out of over two-hundred entries, we were overjoyed, and to this day, I can't say who was happier between us.
Now that I am in college, the relationship between my father and I has changed greatly in practice, but not in feeling. He still tells me his stories, not caring that he'll have to pay for extra minutes on my cell phone so long as he finishes today's story about José, his best friend at work who claims that Portuguese is merely bad Spanish. He always checks on my happiness first, and then my grades, warning me to "get out and live a little. It's college, have some fun. I'll still love you." When I go home, he first hugs me, and then reminds me that I'm the smallest of the family. "I could eat pie right off the top of your head!" he always tells me. But even as he says this, there is always the hug, which, if you knew my father, you would know how rare an occurrence hugs are.
In this way, I have come to respect and love my father, and together there is a bond that I seem to be incapable of fully expressing. It is the bond of child and parent, of elder to youth, and most importantly, the bond of friendship. What connects father and daughter cannot rightfully be explained with textbook definitions or scientific figures but it is there never-the-less present in the many daughters such as Nalinka from Sri-Lanka, Carolyn of Russia, Ashrita of India and myself, an average American girl. Whatever the mystical cause for such a universal occurrence, I firmly believe that the only way to truly express this relationship is through stories.
"When I was small, not yet even one, my father would hook the baby-swing to the ceiling above the desk where he worked. As he typed, he would sing to me, talk to me, tell me his homemade stories, and sometimes even try to teach me the little Italian he knew…"