When I was a kid, I must have been 8 or 9, there was a lock floating around in my parents room. It was just a regular lock, the kind you have to have a combination for. The kind you turn to the right then the left then the right again. I didn't know what it was for but I was intrigued, probably because of it shiny peculiarity. One night I grabbed it on the way into my parents room and I sat on their bed. My mother didn't even look up from what she was doing but she said "put it back." My dad looked over and I looked at him and said "What is it?". " A lock," he said and i replied "I want to open it. Tell me how to do it." He just kind of looked at me and as he scooted closer to me he said. "Ok." It sounded like when you know that someone is in for way more than they bargained for but you let them have it anyway. He proceeded to teach me how to turn the lock in the right order and with the right numbers so that I could do it myself. At first I was having the time of life. I felt like a spy. I felt like if I could open this lock I would be on my way to opening every lock I came across. He had to explain it to me a couple of times and then he felt that I was ready to do it all by myself. I tried once, twice, three times and I failed all my attempts at opening it. I looked up at him and I said, with defeat, "Dad, I can't." His response was "Yes you can, try it again." I tried it again and my efforts were to no avail. This time though, I got mad and I threw the lock and I yelled "I CAN'T DO IT! I'M LEAVING!!" and what did my dad do? He got mad! He was pissed! He grabbed my arm before I leapt off the bed and he said "You CAN do it! Try it again! You wanted to learn to open the lock! SO DO IT! You can not leave this room until you open that lock." I was so mad, how could he sit there and tell me that I could do something that I clearly wasn't able to do. I sat there and as I let some tears fall down my face I tried it again. I don't know how long it took me to open the lock but I did it.
Something that my dad always said to me was "Are you going to let it defeat you? You are smarter than (fill in the blank)" The blank was usually something inanimate or an idea. It was usually a math problem or something. So he'd say " Are you going to let it defeat you? You're smarter than that math problem."
One time, he tried to teach me to how to drive his truck (a manual), he got frustrated with me and as he let me out of the drivers seat he said to me, "I can't believe this truck is smarter than you." And on the way home I felt like a failure. But to become smarter than something or someone sometimes you have to feel like a failure. This story has no end because I still have not learned to drive his truck but someday I will. That stupid truck ain't got NOTHING on me!
The lesson my dad taught me was to never give up. Never let something stand in your way or make you feel dumb. Now in my relatively old age, I am thankful for the night that he made me stay in his room until I unlocked that lock because now I have the determination to finish what I started. And I mean what I say or I don't say it all. Although sometimes I only apply this to things that I really really want to learn. Like crafts. Knitting, sewing, needle point and such. Sometimes for school.
I am thankful for my dad. Sometimes he thinks that I resent him but I don't. I may have at one point resented him and before that I may have sworn that I hated him but that was just the Teen Angst talking. Now that I've grown up I feel nothing but gratitude and indebtedness towards him (and my mother of course). I love him and I know that he raised me the best way he knew how.
(Noemi, you can read this to Dad if you feel the need to.)