I remember peddling as fast as I dared, secure in the knowledge that my father was running alongside me, holding on to the back of my bicycle seat.
I turned my head to talk to him. To my surprise, he was standing back where we had started.
He was smiling, and I realized that he had let go to show me that I could ride without him.
My father was a wise man. As much as he adored me, he was never indulgent. He had a gift, however, for compromise.
When I was in the eighth grade, I was awarded a four-year scholarship to an all-girls Catholic academy in my hometown. Not only was that a financial gift, it was a source of great fatherly pride.
The only catch was that I did not want to go. I had already had nine years of Catholic school, and I did not want to see another nun for a long time.
I told my father that I wanted to go to public school. Now, he could have given me a lecture about the prestige and financial windfall of accepting the scholarship.
However, what he did was so subtle that I did not realize its wisdom until many years later.
My father told me to try the school for one year. He said that, if I did not want to stay after that, I could transfer. In all fairness, though, he said, I should at least give it a try.
That made sense to me, and I went off with the knowledge that this could just be a temporary arrangement. What happened, however, was that I loved the school, and I made wonderful friends that I have to this day.
Did he know that would happen? I wonder.
Fatherhood today is much different and much more challenging than it was when I was a girl. Some constants remain, though, as they should — love, safety, guidance, and pride.
It is disheartening, then to see some of the public ways in which fatherhood is shown to be less sacred, especially in our entertainment industry. One star's father, in particular, comes to mind. When talking about his daughter's "assets," he referred to her "double-D's" and said, "You can't hide those suckers." Now, for a father to refer to his daughter as publicly in that way is unimaginable to me. I do not think that my father was ever aware of the size of my chest. In fact, he may not ever have been conscious of the fact that I had one!
There is something obscene in that father's reply, something that detracts from what should be the wholesomeness and sweetness of a father-daughter relationship. Another celebrity, whose current girlfriend is pregnant, announced that he was going to be the "coolest dad ever."
I am not sure of that. A "cool" dad, to me, is someone who nurtures and commits to a relationship with the woman he loves, marries her (Yes, how old fashioned!), and then plans with her the daunting adventure of parenting.
My father tried to do all the right things. No, I did not always agree with him, and, yes, sometimes he made mistakes.
But even now, I know that he is still with me. He is running beside my bicycle, holding on to the back of the seat, and letting go only when he knows that I can make it on my own.
Victoria Arsulowicz Krezonis