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Filed Under on September 29th, 2009

When Did I Become a Pushover?

By Seth Kabala

I’ve never thought of myself as the Ultimate Fighter type. As a kid, whenever the possibility of bodily harm came up, I tried to avoid confrontation. But if the issue was pressed, I could stand up and issue fake threats along with the best of them and hope that my manufactured bravado was enough to rue the day. And surprisingly enough, it usually was. I can still count on one hand the number of times I was emasculated by a bully.

Save for the week’s worth of karate lessons I won in a contest when I was, I think, twelve, I haven’t had any formal training in fighting. Still, I believe I would have the courage to throw a few punches if it came down to it. I could stand up for what I believe in. Could tell someone, “This is the way it is, and you’ll just have to deal with it.”

Case in point: driving. For the first few years I had a license, I was timid. This doesn’t mean I didn’t floor it whenever I could (think I got six speeding tickets within the first few years–hope the insurance company isn’t reading this). What I mean is I only had a cavalier attitude as long as no one else saw me as a threat. On the … rare occasion I cut someone off or ran a red light and was issued the one-fingered upright salute, I cowered in my seat, blood cold, and wound up driving through unfamiliar neighborhoods just to get away from the horror of narrowly escaping death by road rage.

Through the years, this has lessened. Now if someone honks at me or flashes their brights, I respond in kind and offer my own middle finger. Hey, I’m not perfect. I guess time has emboldened me as a driver, consumer, general inter-actor with the public–as long as I’m safely inside my car driving seventy miles-per-hour.

But this newly acquired bravado seems to have ended when it comes to the youngest female member of my household. With my daughter, I think I could be a blackbelt, Ultimate Fighting, jujitsu master and still fall prey to the dulcet tones of her voice when she starts a sentence, “Daddy?” And follows with a request of some kind.

Right now, we’re undertaking a major overhaul of our finances–buying a cheaper house, reducing expenses, living smaller. If I thought I was a pennypincher before, I’m now compressing minted metal to the point I have trouble recognizing the emblems. That is, of course, unless it involves my daughter.

To get to the point, I’m broke. Well, that’s being dramatic. What I mean is I have enough money to pay for all expenses and debt service, but that’s it. Everything else is discretionary and, ultimately, unnecessary. Unless it’s my daughter’s birthday.

“So when are you going to Wal-mart to pick up that tricycle?” Amy asked.

“What tricycle?” I said.

“The one you took a picture of a few months back and said you thought it would be a good birthday present for Anna.”

“Oh, right. That tricycle.” Before responding, I took a few moments to collect my thoughts, which consisted of That thing is crazy expensive. If I buy it I’ll blow the discretionary fund for the month. Does she really need it? I mean, come on. She’ll probably play with it for a few days and then it’ll join the ranks of the rest of the toys that are performing admirably as space-filling paperweights in the sunroom. If we’re going to spend money, we should buy her a nice, sensible savings bond or start a 529 or something that will last longer than it takes to get rid of the stomach ache from over-consumption of goodies.

“I’m not sure we can afford it right now,” I said.

“Oh,” Amy said, her hushed tone betraying disappointment. “Well, you decide what’s best, then.”

Guilt come hither and cover me with the weight of your presence. My wife has conjured you with her magical powers of persuasion, and I cannot resist your influence.

Come the party … she had a less expensive version, but she had her tricycle. And I confirmed my ever degenerating status as the father of a little girl who will always have the ability to render me a pushover.

God save me from the pony question!

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One Response to “When Did I Become a Pushover?”

  1. Shalom says:

    The delight on her face that day was undeniable. She may not remember that moment later on in life, but you always will. =)


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Seth Kabala

About: Seth Kabala
Seth is an entrepreneur, writer, musician, family man, and juggler of balls--big ones. He lives with his wife and three children in Portland, OR.

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