By JAMILA RIZVI
For my eighth birthday I wanted roller-skates.
For me, those roller skates were a representation of everything that was cool. In fact, I hadn’t really made any plans for my life after the day I would become the proud owner of The Roller Skates. White roller skates to be precise – with white laces and blue wheels. Once I had them, my life would be complete.
I had wanted them forever (okay, maybe a year, less?) But my unusually cruel and harsh parents insisted that I learn to ride my bike before I got yet another piece of sporting equipment that I wouldn’t use. Meanies.
The problem was that I wasn’t the most confident of little kids. Especially when it came to anything where there was even a remote possibility that I could get hurt.
I was the five-year-old that stood at the top of the water-slide for half an hour, generously letting other kids go in front of me, waiting for a gap in the line so I could climb back down the stairs without anyone noticing – too scared to go down the actual slide.
I was scared of heights. I was scared of being hit in the face by a ball. I was scared of the snow. I was scared of diving into a pool, in case I hit my head on the bottom. And I was terrified of learning to ride my bike. But you see, I had to do it. I had to. The Roller Skates depended on it.
We had been practicing on the school oval for hours, with he and my mum taking turns at pushing me. Poor mum, after almost breaking her back from bending over and holding the seat of the bike, while she pushed it along had finally had enough and taken my little sister home. My dad persevered.
For a dad who was sports mad and when it came to anything athletic had essentially no fear – it must have been tough pushing his prissy little daughter around all day and night. I still remember saying again and again ‘don’t let go dad, don’t let go’ because I honestly believed that the end was nigh for me if I was left to pedal alone. The harshness of the grassy landing that awaited me when the bike inevitably tipped, would surely spell my DOWNFALL.
But we got there. We got there because dad wouldn’t let go. We got there in the end only because I trusted him and knew that he wouldn’t let me try on my own until I was actually ready to.
Most adults would have given up on me earlier or simply given me a push and let me fall – so that I could see it wasn’t that bad – but not my Dad. He took my inane little fears seriously and would rationally talk through with me the physics of falling and assess the potential risk versus reward of trying to pedal without him holding me upright.
Painful as the process was, the riding of bikes was ultimately achieved.
A few weeks later we were at the school oval again. It was the morning of my eighth birthday and I was in possession of The Roller Skates. Mum, dad, my sister and I were testing them out ahead of my party that afternoon.
I remember being grumpy with dad for not paying proper attention to my phenomenal skating abilities. I remember being annoyed that he disappeared for a while, to go to the local medical centre because he told mum he hasn’t been feeling well.
We were told by Doctors later that day that my dad appeared to have suffered a heart attack overnight. I don’t recall much of my eighth birthday party, other than the fact that dad wasn’t there and for the parts that mum was, she was crying.
My dad recovered and he was fine. He’s still fine in fact.
Too many little girls grow up without their dad for reasons of death, divorce or simply, disinterest. I know how lucky I was and how lucky I am. Every big moment I have with my dad I remember how many of them might not have happened.
It’s Father’s Day in a few weeks. And as happens every year, my sister and I will agonise over what to get the man who says he doesn’t need anything, doesn’t want anything. It will drive us absolutely and totally bonkers, trying to force him into admitting that there actually is something he has his eye on.
I’m thinking a bike. What do you reckon?
Jamila’s dad is a Daddy Set Go – a sports guy. What about your dad? Is yours a Dad-a-licious who is master of the barbie? A Big Boss daddy-o or a Cool Daddy? A reader or a rocker? Whoever he is and whatever he does we reckon Myer knows dad. Check out http://campaigns.myer.com.au/FathersDay for more great dads and cool gift ideas.
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Come and share your favourite moment with your dad or a moment shared between your partner and your child. The readers with the 4 best moments will each win a $500 Myer gift card, which is perfect to spend on you and dad this Father’s day. Photos are welcome! You must be a Mamamia member to enter. Competition closes 31/08/2012.