Growing up, my father had very few rules he enforced. Don’t talk with your mouth full. No drama. Do not lower your standards. Be your own person. His main belief is that education is the key to success. My dad has been a high school teacher, a journalist and a college professor for over 20 years, and a father for a little more than 22. As the offspring of two teachers, I can personally say that no one considers education more important than teachers.
From a young age I was brought into the wonderful world of books. I made friends with Harry Potter, Humpty Dumpty, and even the Little Prince. My dad taught me to believe in the magic hidden in the pages of a book. I became the first child in my kindergarten class to learn how to read. I read every book in my house in a matter of months. I began to read the dictionary, even. My father’s passion for reading was passed down to me, and my appetite for books has yet to be quenched.
When I was younger, I never realized that my father saw the world different from the other fathers. Other dads were outside playing soccer with their children; mine was cooking gourmet-style meals inside. The irony behind these meals is that we were actually very poor, but because of his efforts, I never felt poor. He and my mother raised my two sisters and myself in a two-bedroom, one bathroom house that we could afford only because it belonged to my grandmother and she wasn’t charging us rent for it. Small and cramped though that house was, I like to believe that my parents’ efforts kept the place from becoming suffocating.
When I was nine years old, we moved from Argentina to the United States. It was, without a doubt, the biggest and most life-changing event in my life thus far. I think that it was harder on my parents than it was on my sisters and myself, because we had barely been alive long enough to make a footprint in the world. My parents had a life, and friends, and a career in Argentina, and they left it all behind to improve our future.
My father grew up poor in a small house with his brother and parents. He wasn’t out attending the opera or a play on a weekend; he was home helping my grandmother with the housework because she was ill. When he was fourteen, he got a job at a local office, and even though he hated the work, he kept the job because the health insurance benefits allowed his parents to continue to take their medication. He did everything possible to get an education; he worked his fingers to the bone at college and managed to attain enough credits to obtain a Master’s Degree in Spanish Language Arts and Literature.
A conversation with my father is always a treat. The way he talks, especially in Spanish, is almost lyrical. He has a way of stating simple facts and making them sound eloquent and enlightened. He talks to us about everything, from the students at his school to the dangers of drug use, and he never makes one feel like one should be embarrassed to have these conversations. I think it’s an admirable quality to be able to have the “birds and the bees” talk with all three of your daughters without making them uncomfortable enough to jump out of their skin. He is a cultured man, and he has instilled the value of diversity in his children. I have friends who worry about bringing home a boyfriend or girlfriend from an ethnicity different from theirs. I never have to worry about that; I know that my parents will welcome any man that makes me happy and treats me well.
My friends all make fun of me because I have a father who never wanted sons, can’t stand sports nor understand them, and would rather read a good book than drink a nice beer. However, I am proud to have a father that can cook like Emeril. I’m proud of how books are his life, and what a big role they play in mine. I would not have him any other way.