Let me start off by saying that I love my dad. We have a great relationship full of laughter, hugs and jokes. However, there was one time when he had to basically kick my ass because I thought I was grown.
When I was 17-years-old I was struggling with figuring out my identity. I was Philadelphia native with parents hailing from Trinidad and Tobago. At times it felt as if my parents were in an invisible war. Not with me, but with the American ideology. My dad wanted to raise me with the same conservative Trinidadian values he grew up with, but he had to compete with my friends, teachers and the media. He grew up with the understanding that when the street lights came on, it’s time to come in the house. Meanwhile, I had friends that could stay out until 1:00 a.m. on a school night.
I didn’t mind the rules until I became a senior in high school with an 11:00 p.m. curfew that wasn't flexible. My parents made sure I was home at 11 p.m. every night, including weekends. It was horrible. There's nothing worse than kicking it with your crew on a Friday night and getting the side-eye when you ask someone to drive you home at 10:30 p.m.
As time went on I began to feel myself and independently decided I was going to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted and who I wanted. To hell what my parents thought!
Remember when I said my parents were Trini?
Well one night, I came home around 1:30 a.m. No phone call, no text and I think I may have been slightly buzzed. When I walked in the house I knew there was going to be a confrontation and I was mentally prepared. I said to myself, “I’m going to walk in there, put my foot down and tell my parents my curfew is canceled”! My dad was already close to 65-years-old, I didn't think it would be hard to assert myself.
I had to be stronger than him by now with my youthful, athletic frame, right? Wrong! My dad beat the shit out of me. And it wasn’t one of those “this hurts me more that it hurts you” type of beatings. It was more like a “N*gga, you must’ve lost you damn mind” type of whoopings. It was a coming-of-age beat down. It was an experience that immediately made me reconsider every decision I’ve made leading up to that moment.
The biggest lesson I learned from that situation (other than old man strength is REAL) was that I can’t compare my situation with my neighbors or my friends. The truth was that my friends were able to stay out late because there was no one at home who cared enough to beat their asses when they came home in the middle of the night. My father undoubtedly believes that it is his responsibility and his duty to keep me safe and he wasn’t going to let anyone, not even me, prevent him from doing his job.
Brought to you by Fences, in theaters nationwide Dec. 25.