When You Become Your Dad’s Teacher

My dad turned the tables on me and it became my cherished inheritance. It all started with a mouse.

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Yesterday, during a car ride, I thanked my young daughters for an awesome father’s day gift. The conversation organically evolved around special days. My 9 year old daughter echoed that everyday is a day to celebrate kids. I chuckled and nodded my head in agreement. In the corner of my eye, I could see my younger daughter mirror my head movement.

I remember learning so many things from my dad — from the first cycle ride to math tricks. One summer day, in mid 1990’s, he turned the tables on me. He sought me out to teach him something.

I was seated on a red swirl chair working on my home computer. Those were early days of email, at least in India. My father dropped by and said “I heard about something called email — faster and cost effective than the postal mail. Can you teach me how to use it?” I was elated and immediately said, “Sure Dad.”

I vacated my swirl computer chair and asked him to take a seat. Step by step, I walked him through. I still remember how he used his pointing finger for all alphabets on the keyboard. He had a notebook on his side to take notes. He was excited like a young kid. My dad had often used the computer as a glorified typewriter. So, he took to the keyboard with aplomb. The mouse, it was another story. With the new found wonder of new graphic user interface(GUI) and browsers, he needed to tame the mouse. I could sense that the mouse bothered him, yet he took it in his stride. Over the next few days, I saw him dabble with it, and a wonderful smile enveloped his face once he conquered it.

Re-imagining his act of triumph today still brings a smile to my face. Great memories.

I had used the word elated while expressing my state of mind then. Elated is a mild word. How I felt that day is best described through a rendition of a scene from mythological tales by my grandmother — a young son shares words of wisdom in his father’s ears ,who strikes a humble pose — listening to every word his son is saying without speaking a word.

Granted my words to my father were not words of wisdom, yet as a teenager, at that moment, this picture best personified my feeling — a son being a father’s teacher.

Today, as I reflect back to those summer weeks, I look at them from a different lens. I am wiser and can marvel at the indelible impact of his simple act.

In geek speak, what my dad showed me — learning is inversely correlated to ego. Said in simple English vernacular, teachers have no age barriers.

I sense a surprise in people when I seek young people at work to learn new things. When I find something new that my kids are adept at, I solicit their expertise.

Father’s Day is Everyday

For me, watching my dad learn was more than him learning. It became the heart of a tradition. On the surface, he may have learned to email that week. By seeking me out when he was the breadwinner, he ingrained in me a constant quest for knowledge by leaving ego at the door.

His persistence with the mouse gives me comfort when I try new things.

The beautiful thing is that not a word of advice was spoken. He was probing me with questions and through the natural flow of daily life, he inculcated in me a quest for learning that is so natural for me today that I feel blessed.

Is this the essence of familial bonds- A dad learns from his son and the son gains life lessons?

I take comfort in the fact that my father has shaped my thoughts in more ways than I can consciously recollect. When I raise my head, look up and salute deep into the sky — I can see him beam with joy.

A man of few words, my father, my mentor, my inspiration — I salute thou for your quest for learning — unparalleled in the circle I know.

From one learner to another — thank you for reading about my cherished inheritance.

Yes, everyday is a kid’s day — learn from them, always.

Karthik Rajan

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Stories to fuel your mind. Theme: life’s hidden treasures in plain sight. Goal: Warm tone, solid content, crisp stories. About me: one google search away.

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