I’m going to start by being selfish and talking about myself and my relationship with my dad before I talk about my relationship with my daughters. They kind of go hand in hand and I don’t think anybody can understand my relationship with my daughter until they understand the former first. My only wish is that my dad could read this. I know it will never happen though.
I’m approaching my 25th birthday. A big milestone for most people but more so for me. It’s not a well hidden fact that I used to be a gang member. My tattoos cover my face, ears, neck, chest, stomach, back, legs, feet, hands. I’ve been shot at more times than I can remember. My teachers never thought I would make it to 16, and I believed them. When I was 14 my goal was to reach 16. When I was 16, my goal was to reach 18, when I was 18 my goal was to reach 21. When I turned 21 my goal was to reach 25. I’m almost there and the problem is now I don’t know what to aim for anymore.
I’ve had some amazing opportunities in my life, but in the background there has always been the opportunities I have missed. The happiest thing I can say about my childhood is that I survived it. I recently got in contact with my sister again and she thinks I should speak to our dad. Personally I don’t see the point. I haven’t seen the man in almost 14 years now and I am not a kid, I don’t have anything to say to him anymore. I taught myself everything, how to fight, how to be a man and most importantly how to pick myself up when nobody else would.
My sister thinks I should be the one to make the first move because he is too proud. But for every day, week, month or year that passes, the less sympathy I have for that bullshit. It would break my heart to have a kid who didn’t speak to me for 14 years. Even more embarrassing though would be to not have the balls to say sorry. My dad beat the shit out of me for years and I doubt he will ever admit it. I ran away when I was 11 and I’m finally in a position where I am taller, faster, stronger and to be honest I don’t even need to hit him back anymore.
At 24 I have a good career. A good salary and better education, but most importantly, I have some beautiful daughters. Little brown skinned mixed up Latinas, with dreadlocks. The kind that are so pretty I’m just working which shotgun I want to buy. And contrary to popular belief, I’ve done it on my own. For all the women out there that think they are alone, there are men who are young and who raise their kids proudly and who never get recognised or even noticed. It might be rare but it does happen.
I’m proud my daughters live with me and only me. I don’t want nobody else making decisions about their life but me. I haven’t seen their mum in over 2 ½ years and neither have they. My daughters are my world and I’ve struggled but it’s taught me a lot. I get to experience everything right now. From the stupid arse teacher’s I have to deal with, to the stupid arse people who try to tell me I shouldn’t lock my daughters hair because it should be their choice or better still their mums. People who have never taken time to know my situation, I’ve had to give up everything for my daughters and it hurt. I’ve had to teach myself to like sitting at a table to eat food and read children’s books to set them to sleep. I play them classical music to help them get to sleep, sat, drawn, read, draw, read some more with them and I’ve still got so much more I want to do with them. In truth I’m still learning, trying to make myself better.
So to the dads that aren’t, I only hope you learn to recognise how blessed you are to have kids before it’s too late. Today I went to a school that I work in with a picture my eldest daughter drew for me tucked in my pocket the whole day. I don’t know what my kids are going to be like when they grow up. But I know I want to be there and watch them, and I want to do it on my own. I don’t want them to ever feel the same way about me that I feel about mine. I hope one day I can stare my own dad in the eyes and watch him recognise what he missed out on.
By Alejandro ‘Alex’ Reyes