Birthday gift: be less embarrassing

By David Fong - Contributing columnist

So we were engaged in the Great American Family pastime of watching pro wrestling the other night when one of my favorite current wrestlers, “Glorious” Bobby Roode, came on the screen for his match.

Thinking how nice it would be to have such a nickname, I casually asked my family, “Would you guys please start referring to me as ‘Glorious’ David Fong?”

My wife, looking at the resplendent, full-length, rhinestone-covered robe Roode was wearing on his way to the ring, replied, “We’ll start calling you ‘Glorious’ David Fong if you get a robe like that and wear it around in public …”

My wife hadn’t even finished he sentence when my daughter, Sophie, screamed out, “Mom! Nooooo! Do not encourage him! You know he’ll do it!”

My daughter was, of course, right. I have every intention of finding just such a robe, wearing it to appropriate functions around town (such as football games and funerals, for starters) and demanding that, as per our agreement, my family start referring to me as “Glorious” David Fong.

Two thoughts about this recent family development: 1) My wife really should have known better; and 2) It can’t be easy being my kid.

I’ve been thinking about that second thing a lot the past few weeks as my daughter approaches her birthday this Sunday.

For nearly 14 years, my daughter has had to put up with me. I can’t imagine it’s always been easy.

Within days after being born, my daughter made her first appearance in this column. In the years since then, she’s probably been the most written-about kid in this city since former Troy football star Ryan Brewer. The difference, however, is that everything that was written about Brewer during his career was complimentary.

Whenever Sophie’s name has appeared in my weekly column, it’s usually attached to a particularly embarrassing story about her. More often than not, the poor kid doesn’t even see it coming, given that she doesn’t read newspapers in general or my column in particular.

Every few months, however, she’ll come home from school we’ll have a conversation that goes something like this:

“Well, Dad, what did write about me this time?”

“Oh, I don’t really remember. What did you hear?”

“You wrote about the time I accidentally shaved off half of my eyebrow, didn’t you?”

“I mean, it may have come up at some point in the column I was writing about trade tariffs and their impact on the global economy …”

“Thanks a lot, Dad!”

She’s rarely ever happy when she makes an appearance in my column. And with a last name like Fong — being she’s the only kid in town who has that last name — it’s not like she can ever hide from who her father is or how he often acts in public.

I imagine things aren’t going to get any easier for her now that she is entering Troy High School this fall. I spend a lot of time at the school interviewing various coaches and athletes. In the past, I’ve mostly served as a source of embarrassment from afar. Now the fact she has the most humiliating father in the world is really going to come home to roost. She won’t be able to get away from me.

The irony in all of this, of course, is that I don’t know if I could possibly be prouder of the girl she has been or the young lady she is quickly becoming right before my teary eyes. From Pop Rocks to pole vault to the principal’s list, she has excelled in everything to which she has set her hand, achieving more in her 13-plus years on this planet than I could ever hope to in my entire life.

As overjoyed as I am of all she’s accomplished, however, what makes me most proud of her is how she treats others. She is a constant source of comfort for her little brother, who happens to be on the autism spectrum. She’s respectful to her friends and teachers. She’s a deeply caring soul. I mean, she’s put up with me for this long, which should tell you quite a bit about how much love she has in her heart.

She is my first-born, my princess and, more often than not, my rock. She makes me feel strong. Happy birthday, sweet Sophie Belle.

For your 14th birthday, I promise not to wear a bedazzled wrestling robe around town.

Maybe just around the house.

By David Fong

Contributing columnist

David Fong can be reached at dfong@aimmediamidwestcom; follow him on Twitter @thefong

David Fong can be reached at dfong@aimmediamidwestcom; follow him on Twitter @thefong