My own father was an immigrant from China in 1911 when he came to Hawaii, this was during the exile from China in 1910 – he was 11 years old when he arrived here. The story of my father’s life of survival is long and hard and could fill a blog for decades on its own, so I won’t go into detail but I will reference what I know of his life from time to time, because it made him the man I came to know. The kind of man my father was, has made me the man I am today, and the father I know I will be, both good and bad.
My father worked hard to create a life for himself here. He worked his way from cooking for crews on railroads and in the fields, doing dishes in the hotels, to assisting the cooks and chefs to one day finally cooking and becoming a chef himself. By the time I was born he owned his own Chinese restaurant, Wong’s. He worked day and night. He left early in the morning at 5 am before I woke up, so he could be there to cook for the breakfast crowd, he came home late at night after cooking all day then prepping for the next days meals, often at 2 in the morning. Chefs were not “stars and celebrities” like they are today – especially Chinese cooks – they were laborers. My father was working to make pennies into nickels. Having worked through the depression he knew how to be resourceful, he reused everything and wasted nothing – and he did it all so that I,his only son would have the opportunity for a life he would never know. He never let me forget this.
It was daunting growing up in a Chinese household, to never bring “dishonor” to your father who worked so hard, so that I could have what he could never have. I respected him so much, I feared his wrath, I feared disappointing him ever, and I loved his commitment to me. He taught me so many things; and I too taught him. I taught my father to speak English and to read. He taught me how to cook and to work hard. We never showed public affection, we never hugged, I don’t remember him ever holding me but every single decision he made in his life he made in consideration of me – I never doubted he loved me. I was there to hold him and say good-bye when he left this world after 92 years.
I’ll be the first to acknowledge it was not perfect, not by today’s standards for sure. But it was what it was, and he did the best he could. Now it’s my turn. I see my father in everything I do, he is always with me. I feel him in my own expectations both on myself and now my two-year old son. I am fully aware that I have to parent cautiously – it would be so easy for me to slide into the pattern of my father’s extremely high expectations.
As a Dad, my son is my soul-priority, my love for him is unquantifiable. Having said that; being a father I am also a provider, a career man, a professional and a partner. I wear many hats, so I have to work hard at balancing my life, work and family.
Fortunately I work for Imua Family Services and I am surrounded by the best professionals in Early Childhood Development. My staff are astounding and work with hundreds and thousands of children here on Maui. Children with special needs, health needs, birth disorders, developmental and behavioral concerns. For some of us parenting is naturally intuitive, some is common sense, some is unbelievable and unpredictable. So, for that which does not come naturally or I am perplexed, I have great resources here at Imua. I will access the Imua Team in this blog.
My goal is to help us Dad’s to do the best we can, to care for our children, to demonstrate our love while being good fathers. If along the way you have questions, please ask. I’ll share what I think, but I’ll definitely ask the pros here at Imua . Let’s learn and grow together!