Pizza Man Doc's recipe for fatherhood

rhondathompson, rhondathompson@nationnews.com

Added 28 June 2010

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When it comes to fatherhood, businessman Gray Broome declares flatly: “I am not directly a family man – I am a businessman who raised children.”His 11-year-old son Grayson has a different view: “My dad is a nice role model. He has helped me and supported me so far in my life, teaching me new things, teaching me good lessons for life.”Gray, also the father of a 10-year-old daughter and an adult son, explains: “I thought it was important to raise my children with fundamental principles – do not steal, do not lie, and share whatever you have with whoever you come in contact with.”“My mother taught us those fundamental principles which produced and raised 11 children and none of them has ever yet been incarcerated.”And the businessman of 25 years believes his children have taken in those lessons. He claims never to have administered corporal punishment, “and I never shout at them. “I ask my children not to focus on what I have or what they come and find, but to cherish what they have and help those people without.”That sense of contentment with whatever his father gives him is evident in Grayson. This particular afternoon he has just come from school and sits across the table from his dad, tucking into a meal. And it is not pizza, the trademark of his father’s Pizza Man Doc fast-food restaurant chain.As his son eats his dinner, Gray indicates he will repeat his daily routine of preparing yet another after-school meal for his daughter whom he is expecting to turn up shortly. But his young son stops him, offering to share half his meal with his sister.“I would make sure every evening while mummy is out working [because I have the facility to produce meals for the children] that they have something to eat, and something fresh. “I teach them to appreciate solid, nutritious food. I have done that from birth,” Gray said.The children live with their mother but head to their father’s Baxter’s Road business place virtually every evening. The rendezvous is about more than food, however. It is clearly a time for bonding. These afternoon periods, together with the school vacations which Grayson looks forward to spending at his dad’s house, provide ample opportunity for quality time between the two. On this particular afternoon, daughter Marissa has not yet arrived, and Gray focuses on his son sitting close by while he discusses fatherhood with Easy Magazine. “I don’t force him and I have not yet introduced him to the kitchen. I want him to be able to make certain decisions for himself . . . .“And as he would tell you, when he finishes school he wants to be able to help carry on daddy’s business.“You don’t want to distract them from their education. You bring them in first and as the mind develops they will be able to decide ‘this is what I want’.”And there is no doubt that the question of early exposure to the family business is one on which Gray Broome has definite views.He reasons: “The Indians and the Caucasians bring their children into the business as early as possible so as to let them get the feeling of business. Black people, being non-traditional businesspeople, they tend to keep their children away from the field in which they have achieved, which I think is wrong. “Because although the children have been exposed to a more formal education, it should be used to the benefit of advancing the business.”In this obviously close relationship between father and son, there is implicit agreement that one day Grayson will take over where Gray leaves off. A child of few words just like his father, Grayson, in a quiet tone, talks about preparing himself to one day step into his father’s shoes, and the elder Broome is quick to respond: “I am happy that so far he thinks that’s the right way to go.”As an onlooker, you are touched by the strong vibes of love passing between these two. Gray Broome, staring intensely at his son, tells him: “You are my best friend.” Grayson’s face immediately lights up. With boyish innocence, he asks his father: “For true?”

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