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Daddy’s darling daughters

Sherie Holder-Olutayo

Daddy’s darling daughters

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KAMAL CLARKE can remember, like it was yesterday, the first time he learned that he was going to be a father. When his then wife told him he was going to become a father, he had mixed emotions – primarily excitement coupled with a bitof fear.
“I could clearly remember saying when my eldest daughter was born, “OMG, a whole human just came out of you,” Kamal said, laughing. “I didn’t have a number of children in mind. The last child, Amber, was totally unexpected but it’s a situation where it all depends on how you grew up.”
For Kamal, growing up with his father and seeing him play an active part of his life only reinforced his own commitment to his daughters, and in many ways fatherhood came naturally to him.    After all, he was repeating what he had seen modelled before him by his own father.
“It was something that came naturally – not that I was going out there looking to get children, butthe role came automatically,”Kamal said.
There are some instances where Kamal is like his father and some where he does things differently when it comes to parenting his daughters.
“My dad is very old school when it comes to discipline,” Kamal said. “The first thing with him was ‘get the belt’. Whereas today, especially, having girls you have to talk a lot.I find it easier to talk, especially with girls because it’s a whole different ball game raising boys than raising girls. Girls are more reserved so you actually have to feel them out to know what’s going on in their mind, whereas I think boys are more outward in their expressions.But again I can only commenton raising girls.”
Kamal, who is a single father to his three daughters, made a conscious decision to raise them after the break-up of his marriage.
“When I made the initial decision to have all three of them, at first I thought ‘Kamal, do you know what you’re doing?’ My oldest daughters were eight years and six years, respectively, and then there was a newborn, so I was entering a whole new world,” he said.
“But it was something that I wanted to do because I wanted all three of them to grow up together and look out for each other because that’s very important to me.
“I actually make sure that they all look out for each other in different aspects. It’s definitely something that I have no regrets about.
While he admits that life as a single father can be challenging, the whole process has been a learning experience for everyone involved.
“Girls don’t express themselves a lot so you have to pull information out of them.
“Sometimes I try to rough them up to make them my boys, and they’ll say, ‘Daddy you have to remember we’re not boys, you know’,” Kamal said. “But we all have good fun because they’re great girls.”
Making sure that his daughters feel comfortable in talking to him about any subject matter is keyto him.
“I’m assuming that girls would find it a little bit harder to talk to a dad about certain things but I try to touch as many subjects with them as possible,” he said.
“I do sense them getting a little uncomfortable when I tell them ‘as females you have to do this or that’, but then I tell them that daddy would need to know these things too. When my daughter says, ‘How do you know that?’ I tell her there’s Google there – you can google stuff”.
One thing that has made parenting easier for Kamal is the support he gets from both grandparents and his ex-wife.
“They go by their mum on weekends and they call and talk to her,” he said. “There are certain things that dads can’t do, as much as you might try to play the role of a mum.
“A mother is a mother. Trying to keep that relationship with their mother is definitely a must for me because there are just certain things a father can’t do.”
Parenting for Kamal has been a balancing act trying to juggle work as a contractor and real estate agent, raising children and having a social life, but he’s managed to put together a formula that works for him.
“Anyone that knows Kamal knows there are certain things that I still don’t miss. I don’t miss my Carnival; I am there in Trinidad. I am into entertainment; I’ve always been since I left school,” he said. “Doing events comes natural to me.
“Being an event planner and PR rep for the largest Crop Over band (PowerXFour) makes it more difficult sometimes.
“But fatherhood has definitely changed the way I look at things. I don’t go out as often anymore because I’ve got homework to look over and everything is done by a certain time . . . . When you get up and make breakfast and prepare lunch, also prepare dinner.
“By the time the night is done you want to put up your feet and snooze as well. So when people ask me ‘How come you’re not doing Too Sweet Tuesdays or Midweek Madness anymore?’I say I just don’t have the energyto do those things anymore.”
But what has taken precedence for Kamal is ensuring that he makes a positive impact on the lives of his three daughters, so that they in turn will be an asset to their own world later on.
“Knowing that you put all your energy into the good of your children and treat them well it will come back to you, or the rewards that you see in them in later years will be enough that you can die as an old man witha smile on your face knowing that you’ve done your part,” Kamal said. “The rewards are seeing them grow up and grow up the right way and knowing that you had a major part in this it makes you overjoyed.
“But the only reward I want is to live long enough that I can see my girls just be great human beings.”