Cliches notwithstanding, my family is actually on the conservative side in a city like this. We love that. That said, even in a city with such vibrancy and openness, I have found that I have the ability to raise an eyebrow. Almost on a daily basis. Like all the times people think I’m the kids’ Manny.
I have two daughters. One 4-years-old and one 10 months. Sadly for me, but fortunately for them, they look nothing like me. I don’t mean that they resemble my wife more than me on a sliding scale. I mean that they look nothing like me. As an Indian American, my complexion is dark, I have brown eyes and I have a bald head, though I used to have black hair. My oldest daughter on the other hand is a result of a chuckle that her genetic make-up decided to have on me. She is stunning. I am her Dad and I am supposed to think that, I know. But she is. She has blonde hair, striking blue eyes and an extremely slight olive tint to her skin. She looks nothing like me.
My younger daughter does have dark hair, but is sporting a bluish-green eye color that is to die for. She has a similar skin tone to her sister, but people think she looks a bit darker because of her hair. They are sisters that do not look alike, but look like sisters with their own unique beauty. I’m a lucky Dad with a lifetime of stress and worry ahead of me!
Family and friends will throw me a bone every now and then and claim to see some physical feature that resembles me in my girls. It’s nice of them to try.
Daddy, not Manny
On one occasion, close to her 3rd birthday, I was bringing her home from a friend’s house a little too close to dinner time. On the walk to the subway, she began to melt down and cry for Mommy. The tantrum began to escalate and I picked her up to get on the subway quickly. A concerned passerby actually followed us for about 4 blocks out of concern for her. It wasn’t until my daughter finally spat out “Daddy, I want to go home” in her tantrum that the person actually turned around and left. I suppose I should have felt a bit thankful that a perfect stranger was trying to ensure the safety of my daughter. I’d certainly want that should she actually be in a situation that required help. In reality, I was mildly offended at the assumption that she could not possibly be my child.
I don’t appear to get as many looks with my younger daughter, I think as a result of her dark hair. Regardless, as my girls get older, I find myself less and less conscious of the looks. I do find myself occasionally fighting off the urge to yell at all the Moms at that park, “No. I am not the Manny. I’m their father thankyouverymuch!”
Thus, even in a city as diverse and incredible as NY, you really never know what sort of family you will run into. We certainly have all kinds. I think to some degree we all try to fit people into molds that are comfortable to us. I think its natural and I am sure I have done it myself. My own experience has taught me to take the extra conscious effort to make no assumptions and remind myself how amazingly different our families can be.