When a person has a role model, they look up to that special someone, adoring them, wanting and trying to be everything that person stands for. Little boys look up to Michael Jordan, the sports hero of our time. Little girls look up to models and Barbie, wanting to be beautiful, poised and sophisticated women. Me, I always thought that I had no role model, no one I wanted to be. Then one day my dad and I had a huge argument. "Nickay!" he always screamed, not yet having mastered the art of talking. "Why didn't you wash the dishes last night?" He barged into my room. I looked up from my homework and calmly explained that I had so much homework to do that I had fallen asleep. He screamed some more and, angered, I screamed back. He said I'd better not let it happen again or I would see what would happen. My father has always been a believer in ruling the household with a firm hand. When he left my room, I thought, boy do I dislike that man and click, it came to me. My influence is my father. This brazen, rough man is my role model for everything I don't want to be. When I grow up, I don't want to be anything like my father.
Growing up was hard. When I was smaller, I tried desperately to be Daddy's little girl. I wanted him to protect me. I wanted him to buy me a necklace with a charm that said "Daddy's Little Girl," and one day in return I'd give him one that said "Number One Father." I wanted to go out for ice cream and talk about different things. Sadly, it never happened.
My father was nothing like I dreamed. He made many promises and broke them all. Growing up, I always studied hard and strived to be the best. My father would be proud some days but others, when he was mad, would tell me with a mean face, "I don't care how many books you read or study, you'll never be smarter than me." This from a security officer with a high school diploma. My father brought me up with a stern hand; I feel children should be allowed to be children, and should be loved, not beaten.
Now that I'm seventeen my dad doesn't hit me anymore, but he may slap me once in a blue moon. He feels I have no respect and wants to put me "in my place." He is the parent and I am the child. Nothing more, nothing less. But in reality, I don't hold any respect for my father. In his house, my dad feels that his way is always right, and tries to enforce his brazen ideas. But somehow I have been able to develop an independent mind and believe in myself. The only thing we have in common is our love of sports. Still, it's different. He wants me to run track in the Olympics and, while I love track, I value an education more.
Today, I am a strong, independent, black-Hispanic woman. Unlike my father, I love different cultures, new ideas and concepts. I have grown to love classical and some alternative music - music that he ridicules. However, I just lock my door and pop in Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, or my favorite, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. I love Broadway shows and dream of the day my father will take me to see "Miss Saigon," which some of my girlfriends have done with their dads. But I am forced to save money to see this play on my own. I love to read and discuss books, something my father would never do with me. So I discuss books with my teachers and my uncle, who is a bookworm.
My father feels there is no life beyond the city, but I want to travel and see the world. I have always been fascinated by other cultures, which is why I want to study International Relations. This probably comes from my diverse background. I am Hispanic, but I look African-American and realize how different these two cultures are. My Hispanic friends are open to friendship and are more sentimental than my black friends. I've lived in Panama (my birthplace), Costa Rica, Hawaii, Texas and now on the East Coast. But my main goal has always been to try to lend a helping hand. It hurts me to see all the troubles in countries like Serbia. I feel a nagging pain to want to help.
Graduating from high school and college are my top priorities. I don't ever want to stop being who I have become, because I have grown to like myself. My father and I have come to an understanding - leave him alone and he leaves me alone. Lately, he has been proud of my accomplishments. I was in an article in the city newspaper, and he showed it to his friends. It may seem a little late for my father to begin understanding me, but I will give him a chance because someday I would like to be someone's role model. fl
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.