This Sunday is father’s day. In our family, we haven’t celebrated it since I was in elementary school and making little gifts for my father there. This is in a way good, because it is hard to think of gifts he’d appreciate – usually, when he needs something, he buys it himself. I remember one day in like 2006 or 2007 having a bad argument with my father over what I’d give him for his birthday. He was sure I’d buy him a pen or some other cheap excuse for a gift, and when I said I’d bought a reasonably-priced gift the year before, it wasn’t about the price but about knowing what he’d appreciate getting. I can now say I’ve sort of made up for this lack of consideration, because two gifts I gave him for his birthdays in I think 2011 and 2012 are still part of his reference library when discussing the area my parents live in.
My father was the one to insist most on socially appropriate behavior, in his own Aspie style. He could teach me in a kind of harsh way, but at least I learned basic social skills. He was the homemaker when I grew up. Besides, he was on my level intellectually, so, unlike I did with my mother, I didn’t outperform him verbally.
My father taught me to speak. He often told the story of how I’d touch his lips when we were riding the Rotterdam subway, and learned to speak that way. He also taught me my first academics. If my mother counted to four, I’d finish her sentence with a nursery rhyme. If my father counted to four, I’d finish off with “five”. To my mother’s credit, she was the one who taught me to read. At least, she was the one who made little books for me using huge rub-on letters.
My father taught me math. I remember learning squares and squareroots using little square shapes. I taught an acquaitnance’s fifteen-year-old daughter when I was around eight. My father also taught me geography. When I was around eight, we’d sit in the living room, map on our lap, and he’d teach me about various places.
When I got older, entering secondary school, my father seemed to push me the hardest. I recently found out that my parents had always agreed on my schooling, but it appeared that my father was the one insisting most on my reaching my academic potential. About half a year after I entered secondary school, my father took a job there (fortunately not as a teacher). It was good to have my father support me, for example when I wanted to participate in debating contests. It was sometimes tough, because he was in easy reach when I’d exhibit one of my quirky behaviors.
When I decided to postpone going to university for first one year and then two, my father was the one who was most disappointed, or at least, showed it the most. My father was the one essentially kicking me out of the house when I informed my parents about the second delay. This was, he said later, because I was verbally attacking my mother. My mother was the more emotionally expressive and manipulative parent, while my father was the more rigid, rational one. I inherited a little of both.