Dad Let Us Choose · 21 June 2014

Photo courtesy of T. Kenneth Miyoshi

I have written a fair amount about my parents. To be sure, they are wonderful people. But as I was thinking about how to give Dad a tribute on Father’s Day, I realized that one of the greatest gifts he has given me was to let me go my own way.

Being a dad is a tough job. It seems that everything we do is scrutinized by our children. They say what we say. They do what we do. Often, they become who we are. Whether we want them to or not. The character that we show as dads is often the character that our children exhibit as they grow older. Whether we want them to or not. That is both a great comfort and a dire warning indeed. But it is the reason that I have such respect and adoration for my own dad.

Being a high school teacher and coach, I have seen many fathers try to relive their glory days through their sons. They push and they prod. They cajole and they deride. They do what they think is best to get their children to be better than they were. All in the name of helping them live up to their potential.

My dad never did that.

Not that I was a great athlete, but I am sure Dad could have pushed me into following in his footsteps. He could have made me play baseball, which was his first sports love. He could have made me take grounder after grounder to get as good as he was in his prime. He could have made me hit pitch after pitch to make me better than he was. But he let me do my own thing. In fact, when my parents decided that with four kids they would only let us choose one sport each, Dad did not decide for us. He actually let us choose. And none of us chose baseball. None of us chose to follow in his footsteps and get good at what he was once great at.

I am sure that Dad was not happy when his two oldest boys chose football over baseball. I am the oldest so I chose first, but my brother, Russell, loved football as much or maybe even more than I did. We played it every waking moment. Much like my dad played baseball with his siblings every waking moment when they were kids. We played catch with each other and with Dad, but when push came to shove, Russell and I chose the football over the baseball almost every time.

I never really realized it, but letting us choose our own sport instead of dictating that we follow his sports passion was one of the defining moments in my dad helping my siblings and I become who we are. He said we could choose our one sport. And even though he probably bit his tongue to keep from telling us that we made mistakes choosing football over baseball, he supported us all the way. He rooted. He filmed. And he got excited when we made good plays. He did not build us up to be more important than we were, but neither did he put us down to be less so. He was just there to be Dad. He was our biggest fan.

Letting my brothers, sister, and I choose our own paths in sports and in life was a huge life lesson. Dad never said that we were able enough to choose our own ways, but he showed us that we were. He let us be not just the athletes we wanted to be but the people we wanted to be.

Looking back, I wonder if I made the right choice choosing football over baseball. If I had played baseball as a kid, I wonder if I might have been as good a shortstop as he was because I devoted all my waking hours to playing catch and fielding ground balls instead of tossing the pigskin around. I wonder if I might have played in college like he did (at the Colorado School of Mines).

Even though I sometimes wonder a little, it does not really matter. I had a great time doing my thing. In my own way. Dad never pushed. He never prodded. He never cajoled me or ridiculed me for choosing a sport I loved instead of a sport that he loved. He stood by me and helped me be the best I could be. And in doing so, he helped me to become the man I am today.

I still look up to my dad. Maybe even more so today than before. In fact, even though I will never be a very good baseball player, I still want to be like my Dad, who has always let me choose my own way.

© 2014 Michael T. Miyoshi

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Published 18 June 2014 in Take 2 | The Seattle Times



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