I always cringe when I hear someone refer to themselves as “Daddy’s little girl.” I understand the sentiment but it has always rubbed me the wrong way. I’ve never considered myself “Daddy’s little girl.” I mean, “Daddy’s sassy little competitive monster” or “Daddy’s independent woman/child” perhaps, but never “Daddy’s little girl.” I also would never call myself a Princess, I fight dirty and I eat fear for breakfast. (Just kidding I don't do that.)
I’m celebrating Father’s Day early because tomorrow is “From Justin to Kelly” and then Saturday I will be at the Jazz festival on Governor’s Island. So kick your feet up and grab some popcorn (my Dad’s snack of choice) because it’s time to introduce my father, Steven Roberts. I grew up in one of the most chaotic homes ever (think Malcolm in the Middle) and it was a blessing and a curse. Our home was full of chaos, creativity and laughter and it was a constant disaster. My parents are the type of parents who encouraged us to have every kid in the neighborhood over because 40 kids were more fun than 1.
One of my absolute favorite memories of my childhood was going to the beach with my Dad. He was a Pac 10 champion swimmer at Berkley (I don’t know what that means but he says it with a Santa Clause worthy twinkle in his eye) and he spent some time as a lifeguard so every Saturday and Sunday he would load our mini van with any kid who could fit and drive us all to South Carlsbad State Beach (Ponto as the locals call it) and we wouldn’t leave until the sun went down. He taught us all how to stay out of rip currents, stay directly in front of the lifeguard tower and how to do the sting ray shuffle. He was rarely too tired or to busy to wrangle 10 kids at a beach.
My Dad is a lawyer and one time he had an important brief due the following Monday. We really wanted to go to the beach so we begged and pleaded for him to take us. Begrudgingly he agreed, loaded the van with myself, my sister, brother, and a few of our neighbor friends and we headed to the beach. He spent the entire day working on his brief in the sand. When it was time to go, he corralled everyone in the showers to wash the sand off, loaded the boogie boards and toys and piled us all into the car. We started to drive away when someone yelled, “Look at all the papers flying off our car!” MY DAD HAD LEFT HIS BRIEF ON TOP OF OUR CAR AND DROVE AWAY. He pulled the car over and spent the next 30 minutes dodging traffic on the Pacific Coast Highway trying to retrieve his long lost papers. My Dad spent many summers running in traffic to collect rash guards or personal belongings we dropped out of our car. "Don't drop that" he would say to us as we held our stuff out the window, "oops" we would reply and off he'd go frogger-ing it out to retrieve our stuff. He’s basically a pro.
But the quality I am most grateful for, and also the thing we bust his balls for most, is his overwhelming showers of confidence and drive. My Dad created a monster. If there is one thing I do not lack, it is a dose of confidence. I am a go getter, a mountain mover and almost always to ballsy for my own damn good. When we were little my dad would tell us, “YOU’RE A ROBERTS! YOU ARE THE BEST!” It’s an ongoing joke in our family, “You’re a ROBERTS! The good lord came down and gave you magical brains, abilities and powers!” My poor Dad never heard the end of it because it sounds so unbelievably self-righteous but in reality, why not celebrate and believe in yourself? If you don’t why should anyone else!? I never felt afraid to stand up in front of a crowd, try to win, believe in myself, doubt myself or fail because I didn't have that inner critic stopping me from trying my hardest. (He was a borderline Tiger Dad though. He used to pick us up at sleepovers at 5 in the morning to play golf...no thank you Father.)
I always make fun of my Dad because he is the goofiest serious person in the world. In every home video he walks around asking anyone and everyone “What’s today’s date?" He’s always giving a thumbs up or waving to strangers. When he calls me he always says, “Hello Kelly, it’s your father.” (I know Dad, your picture, caller ID and a special song plays when you call me.) Or if he leaves a message it always starts, “Hello Kelly, this is your father Steven Roberts. It is Thursday June 12th at 10:32 am.” When we used to go anywhere on the freeway he would get in the carpool lane, roll the windows down, lay on the horn and scream, “DIAMOND LANE! YEE-HA, YEE-HA, YEE-HA!” He loves popcorn more than anything in the world. If we go anywhere and lose my Dad you can turn around and he will be at the nearest popcorn stand. He uses impossibly large words in a simple sentence and can charm your pants off. He, like my Mama, is a dancing fiend and can get low like there’s no tomorrow.
While our relationship isn’t perfect (we all have skeletons in our closets) he’s inadvertently taught me the importance of forgiveness. I am really, really, really stubborn and hold the people I love to sometimes unattainably high standards. I have been through a lot of hard times with my dad but it has opened my eyes to the fact that the world isn’t black and white and sometimes there are things we cannot control. Sometimes you have to sit in a gray area and find the joy in the uncertainty. He’s shown me how important it is to be honest and to ask for help when I am in over my head. I hate asking for help. I really like to be self-reliant and I don’t like when people know I can’t handle something. (No shortage of pride here, I mean I'm a Roberts...) But I know whenever I call my Dad or my Mom they will be there to help. I bet if I found myself in deep and terrible trouble they would sell their house to help me. When I swallow my pride and call them for help (which has happened once since I moved here) they never lecture me, they tell me everything is OK, offer useful advice, problem solve with me, ask me what I need and help me fix it. No questions asked. My parents always taught me to live every day to the fullest and never to take anything for granted. To really thank the people who help me and appreciate the opportunities and adventures I get to go on.
It’s the little things like “What’s today’s date” or “You’re a Roberts” that make me smile when I think about my Dad. He’s always been my supporter and advocate and I am so grateful he made me the over confident monster I am today. (Speaking of my Dad, he just called and left this voicemail, “Hi Kelly, it’s Dad. It’s Thursday June 12 at 7:45 Western time, 10:45 Eastern time, just calling to say I love you and I hope something good happens to you today.”) Steve Roberts ladies and gentleman, my popcorn loving father. Happy Father’s day to all those Dads, Step-Dads, God Fathers, Mentors, Uncles, Grandfathers and Men out there. You are loved. Now go watch some golf.