When I was a newborn, less than 4 days old, you bought as many stuffed toys as your car could fit and surrounded them around my crib, ignoring my grandmother who kept telling mom that newborns don't know how to look at objects.
I moved my eyes and looked at them.
When I was a toddler, you encouraged me to watch Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin and didn't want me to watch Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty because you "wanted your daughter to learn a lesson, not just waste time".
When I was 7 you took me everywhere with you and didn't mind me listening to your friends' political arguments. On our way home though you always told me "Don't grow up to be like them. Don't let people lead you."
And I didn't. I pushed a girl because she wanted to be the group leader in our science project.
When I was 11 you started discussing books by Stephen Covey and made me listen to Zig Ziglar cassettes. "Don't blindly follow the crowd," you said. "Always raise your neck and look around. If you don't like where they're going, take another road."
And I did. Girls my age were giggling about boys and bras while my eyes were wide open and excited about all the facts I read from my science textbook.
When I got to middle school and got my eating disorder, I refused to eat the apple in algebra class so that I could take my quiz, and didn't mind my teacher calling you to pick me up for my "resistance".
I got in the car waiting for you to pat my back and tell me I did well for refusing to give in to her ultimatum. I waited for you to tell me that I didn't need help anyways. But the drive back home was silent.
When I was 14 and went to my brother's school to beat up the kid bullying him, you called. I thought you called to give me a pep talk, or give me some tips on how to break his nose. All you said was "stay in the car. Leave the beating for the boys". I came back home confused.
When I was 17 and told you about my goals, you said "When you're young, you have unrealistic dreams. You feel like flying from your positive energy and like you have the whole world in the palm of your hand. But you grow up and realize that you need to be realistic."
I opened my mouth but closed it right after remembering you telling me "Think before you speak. If the outcome of what you'll say is useful, say it. If it'll hurt people, don't." I don't think it would've been useful. What use would it be to scream in your face about how that 'unrealistic dream' was the only goal I had, the only distraction from suicide. What use would it be to tell you that I don't remember the last time I felt like I was about to burst from the positive energy that I had?
You taught me how to be different. You taught me to love math and science. You taught me to be my own person and not let people decide what I should do in my life. But what you forgot to do is teach me how to feel okay. You didn't teach me how to reply to people who tell me that I watch too many American shows and that I let go of our traditions because of my opinion on marriage. You didn't teach me how to not feel lonely as **** when it's 3 am and I'm spewing out everything I binged and wiping my tears away while my throat bleeds and the music is playing to cover up the sound of me choking on the last words I screamed at myself and the gasps of relief when I purge out all my feelings and lay on the floor feeling numb. You didn't teach me how to pretend to blend in when the girls my age would take boys' phone numbers and I'd ask them questions like "but how are you guys together now? You don't know each other's personalities. You only just met." You taught me how to be smart, educated Belle and rebellious, going-by-her-own-rules Jasmine..
Daddy, you taught me how to be my own person in a place where you're supposed to be everyone else's clone, and I am forever grateful.. But sometimes, just sometimes, I wish you had taught me how to pretend to be like Aurora or Snow White.