Would You Die For Me, Daddy?


photo credit: Kalexanderson via photopin cc
photo credit: Kalexanderson via photopin cc

“Would you die for me, daddy?”

Grace tiptoed behind me into the kitchen to ask her question.

She knows I love her, because I always hold out six plain wings for her 8-year-old taste buds when I make them spicy for her sisters and I kiss her face and sing songs about her even if she doesn’t particularly want me to right then.

“Would you die for me?”

To die for her would be to let her down in a way, so I have to measure my words carefully.

How do you tell a baby that yes, you’d die for her, but that you’d rather not? It’s better to stick around for when she starts middle school and high school and finds the going rough on the soccer field or in home room or in the mall when a friend thinks it’s a great idea to steal earrings. Just one pair.

I would die for her.

What dad wouldn’t die for his daughter?

###

So, why is a freckle-faced second grader asking me this?

It began with a “back in my day” discussion with her sisters about the genre of rap music, today so wrapped up in a new holy trinity – money rolls, cars and clothes. Oh, and women. Nameless women. Clubs. Affirmations of toughness and manhood and degradation of women, to make things simple.

I told the girls about conscious rap in the early 90s, music written from the souls of men amidst social upheaval following the L.A. riots. Attempts to personify a plight of young black men and young Mexicans who found their voices with those of Dr. Dre and the Wu-Tang Clan and Snoop Dogg.

“Would you die for me, daddy?”

It’s more than 20 years later, a 2,453-mile drive from Rodney King’s run-in with police, and here I am, all brown on the outside, but white on the inside, raised in a white neighborhood and as close to any inner-city heritage as I am from Canadian ice fishing, and I’m talking the talk like I lived it.

I tell the girls about the iconic dad way back then who, right about this time of year, heard the outrage and fury of the young men around him, black and brown, filled with anger and revenge. He lifted his young daughter onto his shoulders, and, in a soundbite that resonated throughout a culture and a music genre, uttered perhaps the greatest dad quote of our generation:

“I’m gonna tell you right now. If I have to die today for this little African right here to have a future, I’m a dead mother****er.”

“Would you die for me, daddy? And, how would that work?”

###

I scooped up Grace, fortunate that my fight to live for her would probably be such a smoother ride than the unnamed father I’ll always admire. I’ll likely never understand the day-to-day struggles he and his little African knew.

Our neighborhoods are worlds away, but our bond is in fatherhood.

My most conceivable roadblock to living well for my little American? It’s probably my own health. I should eat a salad and make sure I wear my seatbelt. We’re not far from crime and stray bullets where we live, but we’re not immersed in it.

I explain a bit of this to Grace, so she won’t imagine a Hunger Games style of test in store for me to prove my devotion to her. Rather than die, I will live.

We talked a bit about it. About the heart on my driver’s license and what it means for me as an organ donor. About the fact that if a tiger or rhino or allosaurus should ever chase us down the street in search of a meal, I will stay back and wrestle to the death.

She has strict instructions to climb a tree or find a policeman and live to be 100.

This makes her smile.

And I smile, too.

I’ll do all I can to keep from becoming a dead mother***ker for another 100 years.

I promise.

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153 thoughts on “Would You Die For Me, Daddy?”

  1. Hi. Finally found a moment to read through some of the other VOTY winner blogs (we rock!). I grew up without a father from the age of 9, and recently I have been looking at my own husband, and the way he fathers our daughter. I love your explanation of why you would die for yours, but must not.

    1. Hey – you’re followed, and on my lengthy “to read” list! Look forward to checking out your blog. I still feel like the 16th seed that is just happy to get into the tournament.

      What do you notice in your husband’s fatherhood? We’ve just got to stick around as long as we can, we dads. I want to rival my daughters’ husbands when the time comes, you know? “Well, here’s what my dad would do … ” that’s kind of evil. But I’m OK with that.

    1. I think most dads, granddads and great grandads would, Rick. All of also have to do what it takes to live for our kids, too. Not to cater to their every whim, but to be involved, stay healthy, make a conscious effort to be here for the long haul.

  2. Finally getting around to reading some of the other VOTY winners, and definitely wanted to seek out the other men first. 🙂 Lovely, lovely piece.

    Are you making it to BlogHer?

    1. There aren’t many of us on that list, are there? You’re in my “to read” folder. I perused the site a little this morning. Good stuff, brother.

      Thanks for stopping by. I think I could easily make it to BlogHer – it’s the distance and cost that are holding me back. Are you going?

      Thanks for the kind words! We BlogHer dudes have to stick together.

  3. Watching a movie today June 8, 2014 it has been 7 years and 10 months and 1 day since I have a loss of my child David Money he was 23 years old he is now 31 years old. This movie was a loss of a child we never know in a split second your whole life can change before you. It changes you in so many way the way you look at things, people, places the trigger points that happen.. How people walk away from your life and the blessing they have missed out from me. How they could have learned many things. I miss David so very much. How then we stay away from people without realizing we really have because people look at you different. How it changes the family dynamics in all areas. You see others with their children doing thing having grandchildren showing them off. It is so very different for us w/ the loss of child it is club we would never want to be in. How sometime family grow apart or become closer sometimes afraid to talk about them. I will always talk about my David even though my heart is forever broke in half always will be now. It is just so hard

    The love that we have for our children the dreams to see how they become shattered before our eyes.

    I love you David Money your smiles, your laughter, the way you enjoyed life your friends I miss you more and more every day..

    Your loving Mom….June 8, 2014

  4. I’ve always believed that somehow, the Universe knows, really knows to give us the kind of children we can handle or can parent best. Your daughter asked a tough question and as far as I’m concerned, you gave her a very wise answer indeed! I guess I should be happy that my son hasn’t asked me this yet. However, I will make sure to give you credit when the time comes when I have to say to him the same wise answer that you gave! Lovely post!

    1. So you think we were paired with these girls? I think they challenge me and fulfill me like I’d never have imagined being a dad could.

      There are far worse questions she could have asked me! I love the ones that make me think. Most times they go in the Friday Go Ask Daddy post.

      Other times, like one coming up (“Can’t I just lie?”), need to stand on their own.

      Thank you Page!

    1. Glad you liked it, April. Sometimes, a question just warrants its own post. Thanks for checking it out. I’m far from a great dad, but I do put my heart into it.

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