father//me by Charlie Escorcia

I’m three; my father and I live together. We don’t just share a roof; we exist and grow together. My family misinterprets my curiosity as troublemaking and non-compliance. Stay Still! Dad introduces me to puzzles, games, and books. Teach yourself, if you want to know something, research it, he says. He didn’t even finish elementary school yet here he is telling me the importance of learning.

Thanks Dad!  I will resort to those books and fictional worlds when you become too scary. When our fantastic times together go awry. When you hold my life in your hands and use it to manipulate and threaten my mother, rather than showing me how to enjoy life.  

But thanks Dad! It is because of you I have learned to take control of situations I’d never imagine being in.

I’m eight; I haven’t seen my dad in three years and boy have I missed him! I am not fluent in the country’s language, but learning English is a necessity for me and my family. Sure, my father had been living in the U.S. for most of my life, and he was fluent, but sometimes he did not see why he should translate for my mom. I mean, she has to learn to be independent and fend for herself, right Dad? She should learn and stop being such a stupid and ignorant woman, right Dad?

But the thing is, my mother never did learn English. She needed me, and I couldn’t say no; No, mom can’t you see that I am only twelve years old? I couldn’t say no: I don’t know how to fill out these forms, I don’t know how to pay these bills! But alas, I would do it.  

But the thing is, my mother never did learn English. So when we were treated unjustly, it was up to me to defend us. Whether it was confronting a restaurant server who didn’t get our order right or going to court against the landlord who unjustly kicked us out of our home.

If everything was easy, nobody would be struggling. And it is my responsibility to struggle now, to cultivate appreciation for the consequences. I don’t rely on people to solve my vicissitudes for me. The abusive and tumultuous relationship between my father and me taught me to be indomitable. So thanks, Dad! I know now that it is I who has control of my life and future.

You see, the thing is, my mother never did learn English. But I did. And I will make myself be heard.

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