I always worried money would come between my dad and I. Luckily, minds and relationships can change.
dad is a millionaire. I’m not. It’s not a big deal — Dad is still dad.
Yet, I won’t lie, being the adult child of a parent with oodles of money is a difficult relationship to navigate when you’re trying to show your parent you aren’t here for a paycheck like most people, but their time, love, and friendship. Or at least, for me, it used to be. I always worried money would come between my dad and I. Luckily, minds and relationships can change, which I learned the last time I took a trip to visit my dad.
It’s a weird thought to be nervous around your parent. Maybe not for everyone, but some of us. I didn’t want to disappoint my dad, to say the wrong thing. “Weird” is at least how I’d describe the nerves rolling around my stomach as I sat in my first-class seat on the plane, trying not to notice people staring as I got settled and started to watch “Phantom of the Opera” with my little Jack and Coke. People stared because it was clear I didn’t belong, but my dad insisted.
“You really don’t have to get me a first-class ticket,” I’d told him.
“I have more miles than I can use.”
“Well, thank you, dad.”
“Stop saying ‘thank you.’ It’s fine. I’ll see you soon.”
I used to think it was kind of awkward being a rich man’s kid.
I love my dad — he is the best dad, and I’m lucky to have him. I want to say that right here and now. He is a spectacular man with a good heart, if not a little grumpy when hungry, he’s funny, gives great advice — a total dad. Not to mention I wouldn’t be alive after all the times he bailed me out as an idiot twenty-something year old (and trust me, he knows it.)
I used to think it was kind of awkward being a rich man’s kid, especially as an adult when you’re smart enough to understand how normal people have to bust their ass for what they have like he did a long time ago.
You don’t want to be obvious about the fact your parent has money, even though it’s a huge chunk of their lives because it’s about the person, not their bank account. If you’re like me, you also want your parents to know you can take care of yourself.
In fact, it’s because I loved him so much I wanted him to see I know he is so much more than his money, which he slaved for. Yet, it’s pretty hard to ignore when people have money, even if they’re discreet.
My dad is just different. Rich people are different — their lives, auras, the way they speak. The separation between the rich and “normal” everyday people has fascinated the world for so long that a small team of German psychologists and economists once interviewed 130 wealthy people and compared their findings with the entire population.
They found the rich were mostly more extroverted, in control of their lives, likely not to shy away from conflict — which very much sums up my father. He terrifies people without even needing to speak. Also, at least in my dad’s case, though he grew up dirt poor, he’s had money so long, he forgets how strange it is for people to accept it when he gives it, because, though he doesn’t often give (that’s actually a common trick of the rich, many of them, including dad, don’t spend money if they don’t have to.) Also, he doesn’t have to. Most adult kids understand parents don’t owe us shit.
Still, when he does give, it’s a lot, and for my whole life up until this point, though I wouldn’t be alive without all the bail-outs and the help, it made me sad because there are people in this world that take advantage. I never wanted to be the kid fighting over his will as he died — because this happens.
You’re not going to let him spoil you. I thought as my movie ended in time for the flight attendant to start announcing our descent. Tell him no, you have your own money.
“If I thought that, you’d be wearing rags.”
I never expected the checkout line of Target to be the place my relationship changed with my father forever, I like to think we all deserve something a little more flashy, but that wouldn’t be the truth. Regardless, the moment still blew my mind.
The first words my dad spoke to me when he found me at the luggage carousel was, “let’s go get some dinner.”
“Dinner” ended up being Target.
"Let's go inside and get you some clothes. Sorry, there's nothing better out here."
"We can go somewhere better if you want. We drive out to a casino in Vegas and check out the shops," dad added when he noticed me hesitate.
He didn't realize I stalled because I knew if I said, "yeah, let's go," he'd take me, and that made me sad. Besides, I love Target, but I still didn't want to bother him.
"I brought plenty of nice clothes. I'm fine, I promise."
"You have a hole under your armpit, Ev."
"Seriously? This is my favorite shirt."
I felt bad the moment dad, and I walked into Target. He grabbed a cart for me, handed it off, and said, "get everything you need."
"Dad, I have what I need. You don't —"
"Stop. I'm going to the bathroom," he said, taking off in the opposite direction. "That cart better be full."
Judging by the way dad's lips pursed, he was a little annoyed when he returned to find I'd tossed a couple of outfits into the basket.
"Ev, fill it up."
"It's going to cost so much money, Dad."
I couldn't make eye contact with the nice young lady at the checkout counter as the bill wracked up higher and higher until I couldn't look anymore.
"Dad," I told him as he busted out his credit card without blinking, "Dad, that's like three months rent. I want to hang out with you; I didn't expect a shopping trip."
My dad, whose eyes were hidden behind his dark glasses, stared at me as he gestured for me to grab the cart and started walking.
"Baby," he told me as he started to answer his phone, which had started blowing up with business calls, "if I thought that, you'd be wearing rags."
Then the cashier looked at me with a nod like, "oh damn."
So, I looked at her like, "Oh, damn," cause I 100% believed him. (He’d done it to my brother as a kid.)
it made me realize something I never thought of before about the idea of giving.
People give because they want to, imagine that?
Let's talk about the definition of giving. I'm not trying to fill the page, either. "Giving definition" is exactly what I Googled as I waited in the car for my dad to come back from the bathroom again. I Googled it because something about the answers my sister and friend gave me told me I needed to refamiliarize myself with what giving meant.
The first search result (Mariam-Webster, so you know it's legit) said:
Give, verb: freely transfer the possession of (something) to (someone); hand over to.
"freely" was the part I struggled to accept — that my dad could give without thinking I had ulterior motives, but honestly, this little web search made perfect sense.
Raise your hand if you've ever felt uncomfortable when someone gives you nice things.
Now raise your hand if you've ever given someone something nice because you wanted to, they felt awful about it, and you told them, "shut up and let me do this for you."
In my head, every one of you is raising both hands high in the air, like me. I want to think no decent human wants to treat people they care about as a walking coin purse and that when they give, they do so without expecting anything in return. Freely.
And that is why I said nothing for the rest of the trip. I knew what not saying “thank you” every time he bought something for me meant to him. A part of loving someone is respecting them enough to trust they know what they're doing. (Within reason, of course).
No, I didn't make a peep, not when he paid for every little thing I wanted, took us to Vegas and got us both our own suites, gave me way too much money to gamble (which I lost on a slot machine), paid for fine dining, a new computer, designer gear (including some new suitcases since I could no longer fit all my items in one.)
Well, I mean, I kept my word for the most part. Eventually, I was the one who had to ask my dad for the favor after he tried handing me another wad of cash to lose in the casino.
"Here, go down and have fun," he'd told me, "your dad's tired. I'm gonna stay up here and watch Unsolved Mysteries."
"Dad, I don't want to spend any more money. Can I hang out with you?"
"You sure you want to?"
"I mean, this episode looks amazing."
"I know. You should've seen the preview. Here, sit down."
"Can I at least order room service for us?"
"I'm pretty hungry, and all we have is trail mix, so I'm gonna say yes."
Give freely, accept with grace.
I ended up staying an extra week with my dad because we were having a great time at his ranch, watching documentaries and eating too much Mexican food. My irritated dad even let me educate him on the "real world" a little after the internet provider asked if a $10 charge would be okay.
"That's a make or break amount of money to some people, dad, remember?"
When I did have to leave, I cried all the way to the gate. The clerk at the counter allowed him to come with me.
"This seems like a special moment," he said in response to my tears.
As Dad hugged me good-bye, he stuffed a wad of cash into my hand.
"Dad —" I started before closing my mouth, nodding, kissing him on the cheek, and rushing off into the terminal before I started bawling again.
Accepting with grace is as important as giving freely, after all.