October 27, 2009

Two Men, and Two Daughters

The last two days have been an amazing two days. I flew into Detroit Sunday afternoon and stayed with my college buddy, PPC, who I had not seen for nearly 30 years. PPC is now a fan of the book and narrated to me similar incidents in his life as he has grown up.  As he, his wife, and I talked about the challenges of raising a kid, I soon realized that no two parents face the same challenges; hence no two parents’ path is the same.  I guess if “Raising a Father” was that easy we would not need our cute daughters to use all their charm, smiles, and patience to raise us to be better parents. But what was common among the three parents in the room was that we all knew that spending time with our children was the most important thing we could do.

Next I met Tony. (I have disguised his name for obvious reasons) I was flying back from Detroit and was on my Mac, trying to finish some work. Tony was the man sitting next to me on the flight. We had exchanged our initial greetings when we first met. Halfway through the flight, I heard Tony say, “I do not mean to pry, but I was watching you work. Are you some kind of an artist or what?”

I have to confess that I was somewhat thrilled at him calling me an artist.  At least one guy on this planet has been fooled!  When I explained to him that I have been traveling the country, speaking about responsible parenting, and that I have written a book about my own experiences, he wanted to see the book.  As miracles would have it, just then the book appeared. (To those of you who are not used to my attempted humor, I have the book always ready, anticipating these requests which come but once every few months.)

Tony looked at the book and saw my picture.  Then he looked at me to make sure it was me.  Assured that it was me, he quickly read the back cover where I have asked a few questions targeted toward parents. Within minutes, I heard Tony again, “These questions are simple. I know the answer to them all.”  I was excited as I, myself did not know the answers.

Here is a recap of Tony’s answers:
Q 1.   Why do men go after power and glory more than spending time at home to watch their babies grow?
Tony’s answer: Power and glory pay for life and comfort for our families. It is important to provide for one’s family.
Q2.  Why is it that men measure their lives by money, promotions, the size of their offices, and the kinds of cars they drive?
Tony’s answer: He did not know the last part, as Tony is self employed, but money is what pays for everything.  Growing up poor, Tony realized that without money, one has to worry about tough day to day problems.  Working hard to make money allows a man focus on my family, as then there are no day to day problems to worry about.
Q3.   Why is it that men never stop to think what matters in the long run?
Tony’s answer: Not true, as Tony is completely focused on the long term. Long term is about providing for his daughter.
At this point he looked at me in disbelief as he could not believe that I did not get it.

Q4.    Why is it that men invest all their time in a company that is sure to let them go one day?
Tony’s answer: Do not know as I am self employed.
Q5.    Why don’t men invest time in their daughters, instead, who will never fire them?
Tony’s answer: Hmm. Don't know.
Tony went on to talk about his ten year old daughter who lives with her mom in Detroit. Tony has business in Reno and in Detroit and moves back and forth to make sure everything is all right. As he went on talking, the one line that caught my attention was, “I know I am not at my daughter’s recital, but that is a choice I have to make. I work hard and miss her recitals so that she can actually be at the recital.”

Amazing logic! Or was it? Of course I do not know Tony’s daughter, but is that what she really wants? Does she want to play an expensive musical instrument under the supervision of an amazing and expensive tutor? Or does she want to simply play her heart out with dad and mom cheering her at home, in their living room? I do not know.  But I know that the evening before, PPC’s ten year old daughter and her friend performed an impromptu piano and violin concert for me in their dining room. When they finished it with a “grand finale style” dance, I knew it was one of best concerts I have ever been to.

Back in the flight, Tony was still talking. I was looking out of the window and watching the setting sun as we got close to Denver.

All of a sudden, I realized is that many a time, we fund our amazing ambitions with time we take from our children.
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