THE VIEW FROM RIZAL
By DR. JUN YNARES
Dr. Jun Ynares
“My dad is stronger than your dad.”
I can still remember those words one often heard during the many playground altercations boys in primary grades usually get themselves involved in.
The school playground is one of the first places where boys first begin to relish their discovery of physical strength. It is also where they first experiment with the raw form of power – being better and stronger than their peers. The experiment could be by way of competition in games and sports. It is also often done through playground brawl – the childish fistfights which often landed the proonists in the principal’s office.
Sometimes, these playground fights end in a deadlock. Neither of the two young gladiators are able to prove who is better or who is stronger. It is interesting that even at a young age, boys already know that stalemates are not good for lasting peace. They know that everyone needs to understand who is the dominant power. That is the only way to make sure that there would be no challenge to the holder of that power – at least until they move up to the next grade.
Boys have a way of breaking that deadlock.
They go into a competition of who has the better father.
With their classmates milling around them, they start the dad-match.
This usually begins with who has the bigger father – bigger, in terms of physical size. With height and weight established, they begin to debate on who can beat whose dad in a theoretical mixed martial arts match.
Then, the comparison moves to “whose dad has the bigger, more expensive car”. Or, whose dad sports the higher rank in the corporation where they work.
The dad-match is usually a running battle, a protracted war. No dad is proclaimed a hands-down winner right away in round one. This match could go on for several rounds. Or, several years. It appears boys have a way of bloating their dads’ credentials – or they may overimagine the size and power of the most significant man in their lives.
Those dad-matches also how boys usually understand the father-role.
To them, their dads are: first, protectors; second, providers.
It appears these are the two major roles assigned to the man of the family. Believe it or not, these are the dad-roles since the stone age. Since time when dinosaurs roamed the earth, dads have been expected to keep their families safe from harm and to go out to either hunt or to farm.
This view of fathers must be the reason why boys need their dads to be stronger and richer than the fathers of their peers. The thought of having a dad who can knockdown enemies and buy anything would be enough to make them feel like the proverbial “big man on campus”.
I hardly engaged in a dad-match.
You see, my dad was never the guy who would go around knocking down those who stood on his way. Neither was he the kind of guy who would promise his kids that he would buy them anything they wanted.
On the contrary. When I was a grade schooler, my dad used to go around making friends and making people feel good.
Actually, that was how he began his career. He worked for the elected leaders of our province. His first assignment was to go around some of the towns in a rundown car, pick up some old people from their homes and bring them to local health centers for check-up or for treatment.
He made it part of his job to talk to and to listen to the local folks. In the process, he became their friends. That was also how he acquired a great sense of humor and the exceptional gift of making people feel comfortable and, at times, even laugh.
My dad never set out to be richer than other dads. His passion was helping other people’s dads get by. He referred jobless dads to friends who could give them work. Later on, he would help other dads look for or create opportunities for themselves to earn money for their families. He would spend his day listening to the woes and problems of other people’s dads and helping them look for solutions.
My dad was never a big boss. He was more of a big servant.
Sure, he later on got elected to the highest political office in our province. That position did not change who he was nor the way he did things. He merely became the elected servant of everyone in the province. He continued what he had been doing all of his life as a grown-up: helping other dads find a way to be good protectors and providers for their respective families.
So, based on the traditional criteria for who’s got the bigger, richer dad, I would have lost the dad-matches in our school playground.
I did not have the dad who could knock down other kids’ dads. I did not have a dad who could outspend theirs.
I have one who is the friend of every boy’s father. I have a dad who made other boys’ fathers feel important.
So, if a boy had engaged me in a dad-match at our school playground, the conversation would have gone this way.
“My dad can knockout your dad in a boxing match,” my classmate would have said.
I would have answered, “no, your dad cannot do that”.
The boy would then ask, “why not – is your dad bigger and stronger”?
I would then answer, “no – my father is your dad’s friend”.
Just by doing what he does best, my father became one great protector and provider for us.
He is one big reason to celebrate fathers and fatherhood.
A belated happy Father’s Day to all the dads who protect and provide for their families.
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