my commander

October 1, 2012
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The six infamous words most commonly spoken by my mom in our household are, “Your dad wants to talk you”. After this, there usually comes a sigh from me or my two other brothers-whoever’s turn it was to get this week’s “lecture”. In my family, my dad is known to give his weekly lectures to my brothers and I about school, behavior, or life, (if you’re lucky enough, you just might get by without one for the week). Throughout the years however, his words have turned into the catalyst for my success as he’s shown me to work hard and believe in myself.

Now I hear my mom utter these words, “Your dad wants to talk to you”. She enters my room, smirks crookedly, and waits for me to mirror her expression as I always do as our simple exchange of humor. I cease my agitated thoughts about math equations, close my book, and exit my lively room to walk into the dark hallway. I grumpily drag my feet as I begin down the endless hall towards our living room, which now transforms into my dad’s “office”. Every time I’m called to listen to one of my dad’s lectures, it feels as though I’m being summoned to the principal’s office to receive a punishment for my delinquency. If any person receives one of his infamous lectures, they would agree with my dramatic comparison. You see, my dad isn’t the gentlest person you would meet; in fact he’s rather harsh in his words and stubborn in his ways. My mom is quite the opposite and has always explained to my brothers and me growing up, that he developed this way because of his military background. He graduated from West Point, a military academy, and after served in the U.S. army for 6 years. He told me that during this time at West Point, he learned his company motto: “Be straight or be gone”. It meant that the plebs had to have an organized uniform and respectful behavior towards their commanders or else they were reprimanded. My dad recalls this motto being instilled in him the very first week he arrived on campus and ever since, he’s made this motto his life style and now disciplines us in the same way.

At this moment I turn the door knob, and enter my dad’s “office”. He is idly sitting on the couch watching football. I sit down next to him and wait for the awkward silence that guides him into conversation. His talks range in topics from grades (he usually criticizes that I’m not focusing enough on homework and I argue back that I need time to relax), attitude (he says I need to cooperate more with my brothers and I disagree saying they are the ones who instigate our daily fights), and responsibility (he says I need to take on more chores or school activities and I dispute that I have enough responsibilities to last a life). His words were severe at times, but his concerns behind them were full of love.
Although I’ve felt his strict army-influenced ways have been too overbearing for me at times, I now can look back and understand he was just trying to raise me. And he did. He showed me how to get back up on my feet if I fell. He told me to believe in my ambitions if I alone could take on the dedication they required. He taught me to be respectful towards others because everyone deserved it.

Whenever I come to a crossroad about a choice, I catch myself replaying one of my dad’s programmed sayings that were guaranteed to be repeated in his lectures. “Go above and beyond”, comes to my mind when I take on a new task like volunteering. “Only do whatever makes us proud”, pulsates in my mind if I’m put into a situation where ruthless peer pressure wants to take over. “Be brave now so there are no regrets in your future”, is the voice I hear if I’m afraid to make life decisions such as which college I want to apply to. All of these things that my dad has taught me haven’t gone in one ear, out the other; rather they’ve made it in one ear and wormed their way into a place in my heart to stay.

My dad knew during those talks that I would someday thank him for his advice (in fact, his exact words were “someday you’ll appreciate my advice and thank me for it”). Today I am able to say “thank you dad” with a smile on my face, knowing that he, my commander, shaped me into his strategic soldier ready for the battle known as life.





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