Family, Self

Girls Who Turn Out JUST Like Dad Are The Luckiest Girls In The World

Photo: Courtesy of the author
dad daughter adhd

My dad grew up in a household of four boys — the middle child wedged between the golden boy numero uno (three years his senior) and adorably mischievous twins (three years his junior). 

He stands 5 feet 7 inches to each of their approximately 6 feet tall, is the only one with hazel eyes instead of their mom's brilliant blue, and suffered from severe childhood asthma so bad it left him living in a children's home for three months at only 3 years old, as well as severe hearing loss that had him wearing a hearing aid by his teen years.

He is also — in my own estimation — the best of the bunch (by far) and surely the best dad a girl could possibly hope for.

But it took me until I was a grown woman to figure that out.

My dad is super funny, super fun, hyper, hyper-sensitive, stubborn and easily angered. 

Exactly like me.

Or rather, I'm a helluva lot like him.

The tales of his wild and crazy boy-filled childhood home always cracked me and my brother up.

The time my grandmother got so upset with them for not cleaning their rooms that she took everything they each owned and dumped it on the driveway for them all to collect and put back in proper order.

The time my dad bit a little girl at school (and my grandma bit him back as punishment). 

The time my dad's teacher called my grandma to say he was finishing his work too quickly and then bugging all of the other kids, so my grandma told her to give him a job.

The teacher made him responsible for cleaning the chalk boards and chalk erasers and he was happy as a hyperactive clam.

As a girl, my dad and I struggled BIG time to get along.

My brother, a golden child's golden child, would simply do as told — or least give the impression he was going to — and things between him and my parents were generally hunky-dory.

Me? Do as I am told? When it doesn't make sense to me? Are you effin' kidding me????

My dad would yell at my brother, and my brother would take it, apologize, and move forward.

My dad would yell at me ... and I yelled back. LOUDER.

So here I was, the first baby girl born in the family in 30 years.

I was the apple of my father's adoring eye. And I would stand head-to-head and go toe-to-toe with him, willing to fight to the death for the sake of the win.

Not. Pleasant.

My mom and brother would both try to referee as best they could. 

When my brother left for college as I started high school, he took my father aside and asked him to "go easy" on me.

My mom would tell my father to try to love with an open hand, and she would coach me to use his excessive energy for the good by reaching out to him for help with projects, errands, pretty much anything at all.

Because for anything else I may have thought or said, my dad is the most loving, generous, eager-to-be-of-service human being I believe I have ever met. No exaggeration.

My dad never reached the career successes of many of my friends' fathers, because he was determined to live a life where he could be home when my brother and I returned from school. 

It bugged me at the time, sure, because at 17, I just wanted time alone with my boyfriend or to talk on the phone in my room. 

When I moved across the country to Philadelphia after college, my dad flew with me.

He took me to Ikea, bought the furniture to fill my (tiny) apartment, and proceeded to build it all in the 110 degree heat and 90 percent humidity of that non-air conditioned space. All the while telling goofy dad jokes and beaming with pride and excitement for my big adventure as a real adult.

When I gave birth to my first child 6 weeks early, he flew out to Florida to help for a few days immediately after the birth. 

And then he flew back again when I was re-hospitalized one week later.

A risk-management and infection control consultant to hospitals, he watched over the doctors and nurses like a hawk, and would then return to my home to acquire and set up the loads of baby stuff that we hadn't expected to need for another month-and-a-half.

When I moved back to LA, my father became my most reliable — and certainly my least expensive — childcare provider, always excited both for any opportunity I may have, as well as his own opportunity to spend time with my boys.

Through it all, though, we fought.

Some days I would find him to be annoying to no end, and some days I am quite certain he thinks I am the biggest bitch to ever walk the planet.

When my oldest son was diagnosed with ADHD, however, a light switch began to flicker on. 

Because shortly thereafter, I was diagnosed with ADHD as well.

And then I thought back to those stories from my grandma. Impulsivity. Low-frustration tolerance. Hyper-focus leading to high achievement but behavioral issues.

Oooooooooooohhhhhhh ...

Of course!

And what I had thought to myself over time became all the more solidified in my head.

We didn't have trouble getting along because we didn't get each other. We had trouble getting along because we were so much LIKE each other.

When I divorced, he was not only my rock, but a rock for my sons.

And, now he is pretty seriously in love with my puppy too (but come on, she is ADORABLE!).

He has supported us in the most unimaginable and beautiful of ways possible.

And I still get incredibly frustrated with him, and I am sure he calls me a bitch under his breath plenty.

But the BIG difference is that, now, I appreciate him — as well as all that he does, and all that he tries to do.

So very much.