It’s true what they say that, in some way or form, your parents will have an influence on the things you’re interested in. For me, my dad is mostly responsible for my love of books, video games, and rock music. While that may seem normal interests today, it didn’t seem so while I was growing up.
As early as preschool, I remember that I would alternate from playing with Barbies to being curious about the street games that the boys in the neighborhood would play. What would stop me was the constant reminder that those are things that boys do, not for girls.
But whenever my dad would play PC games like Tomb Raider and Rainbow Six, he never stopped me from watching him play. I would even offer to help him shoot the enemies by clicking the mouse when told to do so. He would later introduce me to a plethora of games. It started with educational ones like Jumpstart and Magic School Bus, and it moved on to mission-based ones with actual enemies. I remember him teaching me how to control my character using WASD keys and how to choose the right kind of armor.
It sounds geeky and weird for people who don’t know what I’m talking about, and it’s okay. However, when I was younger, I remember getting confused looks from classmates and older relatives whenever I excitedly talked about my favorite games at the time. The only ones who did understand were my male cousins who became my playmates for the better part of my childhood.
This also prompted comments from relatives like, “Tomboy ka ba?” (Are you a tomboy?) At the time, it was like an insult because it felt like I was being judged for being “un-feminine.” It was the same reaction I got when I started listening to rock music—something I picked up from my cousins, as well as my Nirvana-obsessed father.
Despite all of that, I never heard a peep of judgment from my parents. My dad still shared his other interests with me and I became more invested in the ones that interested me when I finally outgrew my Barbie and Bratz dolls phase.
Looking back on it now, more than 10 years later, I asked myself, “Why should someone adhere to gender norms when it comes to their interests?” It’s similar to the conundrum that pink things should be for girls and blue things are for boys. If I like “something blue,” does that automatically make me a boy? No. It just means that both genders can enjoy whatever they want.
In a way, my dad and I are the same. We both like having our alone times at home, keeping ourselves busy with either games, music, or a book. But I sure am thankful that he let me into his little bubble. He let me do my own thing with the knowledge and influence he’s shared with me and not once did he tell me “to act like a girl.” It seems small but it’s a big deal for me. Besides, if I didn’t inherit these interests from him, I wouldn’t be able to meet like-minded people.
Again, thank you, dad. Happy father’s day (in advance) to you and to all the other loving dads out there.
Art by Marian Hukom
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