Family / Kids / Parenting

Family Ties

Chidawa zsuitIt was the ’80s and I was a teenager. I had long, permed hair and bangs so high they would hit the roof of my car when I hit a big bump.

Perhaps, that is an exaggeration but that is to be expected – bangs were so hyperbolic in the ’80s.

I looked like every other girl my age – bright colors and shoulder pads and tapered jeans tucked into slouchy socks. At some point, girls started wearing ties and I remember the day I came home  from the mall with my first tie. I don’t remember the color or pattern; I just remember that, when I contemplated this new fashion accessory, I realized that I had no idea how to tie a tie.

Today, I would look it up on YouTube but my tie tying days were in the dark, dark days before the internet when people had to ask other people how to do things.

My dad was sitting on the couch reading the paper. We had a strained relationship and our rare conversations centered on my classes and homework and Debate Club. I didn’t want to ask him for help but he was the Obi Wan Kenobi of my tie situation so I cleared my throat and said, “Can you show me how to tie a tie?” He looked up from his paper and over the top of his glasses, “Sure.”

We went into his bedroom and stood in front of the full length mirror on his armoire, me in front and him behind. He draped the tie around the back of my neck – calloused hands and silk – and began to slowly tie the tie. He gave instructions as he went and I watched in the mirror. Once he was done, he told me to untie it and try it myself. I did as I was told and his hands came around to guide me when I made a mistake and he said, “I always imagined teaching my son to tie a tie. I never imagined teaching my daughter.” I looked up to see his face in the mirror and he was smiling broadly.

I thought of that moment this past weekend when I took my daughter shopping. We have a formal cocktail party to go to and she did not want a dress but a suit, preferably a tuxedo. We did not find a reasonably priced tuxedo but she was thrilled when she found a black suit that fit her perfectly. She said, “Now we need a tie.” She combed through the ties and selected a black one and went to stand in front of the large mirror in the dressing room. She stood in front and I stood behind her. I pulled up the collar of her shirt and draped the tie around her neck and tied her tie just as my dad did for me all those years ago.

When I finished, we smiled at each other in the mirror and I said, “Pretty good, right?”

“Yeah, you’re good at ties.”

I am. My dad taught me well.

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  1. Oh man I did not want to get teary at work!

  2. this is the sweetest. and that suit is a great find! Z looks awesome.

  3. What a sweet vignette. Thanks for sharing.

  4. makes my heart melt

  5. Thanks everyone 🙂

  6. Really sweet. Family ties. Wonderful!

  7. Where is the picture of the long, permed hair and high bangs??

  8. What I love so much about this is the care of the parent for the child, and how in each generation, you (as parent) and your dad (as parent) are seeing the child and supporting her without judgement. Because even when Annie Hall look was the rage, I’m sure you could find a dad in Kansas (Missouri? eek: which one did you grow up in?) who would rather be run over by a truck than to see his daughter in a tie, let alone help her put it on right. That part might go without saying, but there, I said it. It’s one of the truths that adds such depth to this gentle moment.

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