He says, Be tough.
I smile, hug him, kiss him on the cheek and whisper in his ear, You too, Daddy.
The last time we were together he had been stuck inside walls and resorted to reading Amy Chua's latest endeavor. He loved her, and I grinned as he would be sitting quietly and then go, Listen here, Boog, proceed to read me a passage and chuckle. She was tough.
Mom had bought the book, read it, placed it on the coffee table and Dad had picked it up in desperation. I looked at Mom across the room. She smiled and nodded.
I had not read the book but had been intrigued by what I had heard in interviews, found the Wall Street Journal article to be at least brilliant in a marketing aspect. Nothing seems to get us going like a controversy, does it? So my only contribution to a conversation about a writing was the hype around it. Dad would listen and go back to reading.
Dad was the product of a heavy handed parenting style where work ethic was taught through survival via the plowing of fields, the wrangling of cattle and the hunting for your next meal rather than playing the violin or the piano. He will always say his own Daddy was a good daddy since he taught him the importance of work and in this sense he found common ground with Amy.
My Mom, in the most opposite of all opposites, was raised by a man who at his very breaking point would say, I'll be Dad blamed and then proceed to help clean up the mess any of the four girls had made. He also knew the importance of work in that it was how he provided for his family so he treated it less as a vital character trait and more as a common sense approach to life.
Me? Well, shit. I read Dr. Spock's books in a complete frenzy while I was pregnant, walked around with a glazed over look, worked two jobs seven days a week and relied heavily on people around me to help with the raising of my son. Later I had read about the tragic suicide of Dr. Spock's son and thought I would never pretend to know anything about the subject of parenting.
Amy caught some flack and increased her book sales in the process, and I feared for her. Yet she's tough and I figure if she wants to highlight parenting through profiling or ethnicity she will have to face a history of a people who possibly derived a work ethic from the killing or giving away of first born female children to the point American parents were buying them as if they were the newest purse.
How 'bout today I just say I am so very grateful for my parents and my western upbringing?