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Dates With Dad

All In The Family – A Daughter’s Story

By | A Daughter's Story, Daddy, Dates With Dad, Daughter, Development, Fathers and Daughters, Growing Up, Guest Blog, Independence, Parenting, Personality, Relationships | One Comment
download (2)BY TERESA L. THOME

I grew up in the same kind of environment as most other white, middle class kids – a modest home in a working-class neighborhood, three siblings, one dog, two working parents and a racist dad.  (Yes.  I just admitted that and we are going to go there.)

I grew up hearing my dad tell jokes about Polish people, the Irish and Italians. WASPs, Limeys, and Krauts… oh my!  He was an equal opportunity racist.   He even took aim at his beloved Catholics.

And there were lots of jokes about black people… too many.   He never used the “N” word, but it was abundantly clear that it was okay to make judgments about people based on the color of their skin.  By the mid 1980’s, gays were added to his list of perfectly acceptable people to joke about.

I suspect this was par for the course in my father’s upbringing.  It was not uncommon to hear my German/Dutch dad, his friends and relatives telling a racist joke at a party.  There were derogatory remarks too, but for the most part, where my dad was concerned, it was jokes.  It was meant to be funny.  And my dad was funny.  The laughter he elicited certainly blurred the line for understanding what was appropriate and what wasn’t. It blurred the line for him and for all of us.

At some point in my early thirties, I overheard my dad telling a joke disparaging Black Americans.  He was in earshot of my ten-year old, twin nephews.  It was wrong.  I gave my dad an ultimatum.  He needed to make a choice, “me or the racist jokes.”  If he wanted to teach his nephews that racism was okay, I’d have no part in it.   He was dismissive and I left with angry tears.  I called the next day to let him know, I was serious.  He responded, “Oh, I’m only joking.”  “I don’t mean anything by it.”  “I’m fat and people tell jokes about me.  I don’t care.”  As adamant as he was that he wasn’t trying to be mean, I was adamant that the intention didn’t matter.  When it was clear I wasn’t budging, he agreed to stop.

At first, the jokes ceased entirely.  Then, over the years, he’d try to slip something in to test the waters.  Every once in a while he’d land in a place that felt like good-natured ribbing.   And every once in a while, he’d step over the line.  Way over.  I’d give him a stern “Dad” and he’d stop.   As if I were the parent and he were the child.

I thought there was a part of him that really could separate the jokes from his beliefs.  On the occasion that my siblings or I dated a “person of color,” he never said a word. I also recall a vivid conversation that we had about gays in the military.  He was a Korean War veteran.  “Why do all these idiots think that just because a guy is gay, he’s gonna want them. If someone wants to fight for their country, let ‘em!”  Twenty minutes later, he’d make a joke about gay people not fit to print in this blog.

Then my own best friend came out, my dad was quick to offer up a gay joke or two to him.  My friend would laugh. My dad called him, Tinky.  He called my dad, Grandpa Bob.  My friend was, in my father’s words, “one of the family.”  My dad was an Archie Bunker with heart.

A few years after the incident involving my nephews, my mother confided in me that my father had sought counsel from a priest.  He wanted to heal the racism in his heart.  Contrary to what I was thinking, he was struggling between the jokes and his beliefs. Whether this was before or after our big conversation, I do not know.  Either way, my father never told me about this work he was doing. 

I’m grateful to have learned that he did the work.  I’m also grateful that he wasn’t the one to tell me about it.  It showed me that he understood that this was his work.  Whether or not I knew what he was doing, didn’t matter.  He wanted to make better choices for himself.  He didn’t want to hurt people.  He wanted to make them laugh.  I respect him for realizing that both were important. 

Teresa.


 

Teresa L. Thome is co-founder and Managing Partner of Fubble Entertainment. She co-writes and co-produces the Emmy® award winning web series www.backstagedrama.com.

She and her partner are Executive Producers for LaughFest’s signature event having creatively produced shows with Betty White, Alan Zweibel, Martin Short, Kevin Nealon and Wayne Brady. Teresa also served as Executive Director for the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum for more than ten years. She has directed more than 20 theatrical productions in and around West Michigan.

She resides in Grand Rapids, MI with her husband, Fred Stella and two cats, Pickles and Simha. You can read more about Teresa here.


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Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Teresa L. Thome, and this blog’s owner, is strictly prohibited.
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Put Down The “Flowbee” And Slowly Back Away

By | Activities, Beauty, Daddy, Dates, Dates With Dad, Daughter, Fathers and Daughters, Shopping, Teenager, Toddlers | 2 Comments

If there’s one thing single dads (especially those of young girls) have to learn quickly, it’s how to style their daughter’s hair.

Shopping for clothes? Easy. A basic sense of style and a day at the mall or community garage sale can set you up for an entire season or two.

Feeding her? Simple. Men, at least a lot of the men I know, are already pretty proficient in the kitchen and can avoid the Happy Meals by preparing simple dishes with actual nutritional value.

But when it comes to styling her hair, some men run away in “shear” terror. (See what I did there?)

Personally, I love it. But I may come from a background that isn’t common.

My mother had her beautician’s license and even though she didn’t do it as a profession, the smell of someone on the receiving end of a perm wasn’t a rare odor in our house. I learned how to work with those perm rods before I was 10.

I had three older sisters so the tangled web of hair dryers, clips, scrunchies, flat irons, and the rest aren’t foreign to me.

My ex-wife is a hair stylist so once again the terminology and techniques were ever present.

So when it comes to grabbing a brush or comb and putting Grace’s hair up in a quick ponytail, pigtails, or even a braid, I’ve got it covered. More than that, I look forward to doing it (even if getting her to sit still has become more of a challenge).

If men want to fully embrace parenthood and take part in the equalizing of the roles of a caregiver, they’ll need to put aside any machismo keeping them from styling their daughter’s hair. Don’t worry guys. You can still love football and beer all the while knowing how to pull off a decent French braid.

Daddy Daughter Time is hosting an event in August at Cheeky Strut salon in downtown Grand Rapids to help you out.

Full details are coming to the site and our Facebook Page very soon. We hope you can join us!

In the meantime, check out this alternative method of getting the perfect ponytail. It includes power tools to help ease you into the idea.

P.S. This product could save your sanity.

 

 

T.

Dates With Dad: Daddy’s Little Girl

By | Activities, Boys & Dating, Conversations, Daddy, Dates, Dates With Dad, Daughter, Development, Fathers and Daughters, Growing Up, Guest Blog, Independence, Memories, Parenting, Personality, Quality Time, Relationships, Shopping, Teenager | 2 Comments

<Guest blog from Maggie Kennedy.>

daughter-dancing-fathers-feet

Daddy’s Little Girl – that’s exactly what I was.  I had my Dad wrapped around my finger as a child and I am pretty sure my brother would still say I do.

The bond I share with my Dad is one that has grown over time.  Now, looking back, I can see my Dad really took the time to build this relationship with his daughter.

Since I can remember, my Dad and I have been doing things together, just the two of us.  When I was really little my Dad would let me clip my barrettes in his hair and would let me fake shave him (without a razor of course!).  Once I got older my Dad and I went to our first Daddy-Daughter dance on Valentine’s Day.  It was my first real date! I got all dressed up, he bought me a corsage and we went to dinner before the big dance.  We danced the night away with all of my friends and their handsomely dressed Dads in the local high school gym.

As I hit middle school I found it was not “cool” to go to a Daddy-Daughter dance anymore.  So, although it was Valentine’s Day and his birthday, my Dad still took me out on fabulous dates.  We went to my very first fondue restaurant and my Dad even set up a tea party before dinner, just for me.  We did many different dates over the years including Japanese Hibachi and dinner on an actual train.

I always looked forward to our dates, but once I was in high school and had my first boyfriend I quickly dumped my Dad on Valentine’s Day.  As a 15-year-old with my first boyfriend I was ecstatic to be going on my Valentine’s Day date, not thinking twice about my Dad.  As I write this now, 10 years later, it breaks my heart to know I dumped the one man who will forever have my heart.

Moving away to college opened my eyes to not only the love I knew I had for my parents, but the friendships I had built with them.  I missed them even more being 100 miles away.  When I would come home on weekends my Dad took me on the one date he knew I couldn’t say no to… shopping.  On Sunday mornings we would go to Meijer to stock me up on groceries.  I doubt it was the ideal Sunday morning activity for my Dad, but we both knew it was time we enjoyed being with each other.

As an adult, I feel it is my time to plan the dates for my Dad.  Every year I invite him to relish in his dream of owning an RV by taking him to the Grand Rapids RV show.  Our most recent dates included indoor and outdoor shooting ranges which surprisingly I think I enjoyed as much, if not more, than my Dad.

As my Dad hit senior citizens status this year, I decided it was time to go on the ultimate date.  I asked my Dad to go to Europe with me, just us.  No boyfriend, no brother, no mom, just the two of us.  We will be touring England and Ireland in September.  It is easy to say that the same young girl, who could break her Dad with one glance of those big hazel eyes and bottom quivering lip, is now wrapped around her Dad’s finger.

As I often tell my Dad, “A son is a son until he finds a wife, but a daughter is a daughter for life.”  Not to take away from the father-son relationship he has (which I am sure is a strong bond over swearing, scratching and female body talk), but I know that I will be my Daddy’s little girl forever.

Maggie.

Maggie and her Dad.

Maggie and her Dad.

Maggie Kennedy, born and raised in Brighton, MI, graduated from Grand Valley State University and currently serves as a Public Relations Associate for Wondergem Consulting Inc. She is the proud mom of a beautiful (extra-large) Bernese Mountain Dog.

 

 

 

 

For more information on “Dating Your Daughter” and ideas for special Daddy / Daughter Dates, check out our MAY Feature!