Derek’s on daddy duty
In just about one year, Derek Durant went from being a “largely unattached” bachelor living in his own apartment, to father and fiancée.
That was almost nine years ago.
At that time, he recalls, family was on his mind although not part of immediate plans.
Then he met Rhonda, a colleague at the since-departed AT&T, whom he was “heavily interested in at first sight.”
“Soon after we met, she was pregnant. So this is not one of those stories where we were going out for ten years and then we decided to have children. It is the opposite,” the 47-year-old recounted with a sly smile and quick laugh.
Thrown in at the deep end of an experience many couples sometimes take years to prepare for, the accounts executive became an open and eager learner.
It was evident in the playful interaction with sons Nicholas, nine, and Dominic, six. It shone in the pride of recounting their sporting exploits – the former a budding cricketer and the latter following in mum’s track shoes.
“It was new for both of us. . . . I never had the experience of growing up in a family with a lot of little children around,” Derek, one of his parents’ two children continued.
After a Valentine’s Day proposal, Rhonda went overseas three months later for a few days to shop for October nuptials. Nicholas was three months old at the time, and Derek recalls with joy when he took care of the newborn after work and into the night (Rhonda made sure to place a few choice reminders on sticky notes around the apartment).
And as they went through the ups and downs of being new parents, Derek and Rhonda were simultaneously nurturing their own love relationship.
“That was different and that had its challenges, because both of were focusing on the baby and raising the baby and doing what was right . . . ”.
Nowadays, Derek, 46 and Rhonda, 36, make sure to spend time going out alone or with friends. However, caring for their boys remain paramount.
“Parenthood definitely has changed my life in terms of obviously you got to be more responsible and you are looking out for more people than yourself. Whatever they want, within reason, you have to be right there, prepared to give them.”
It was a trait he believed he has carried on from his father, former commissioner of police Orville Durant. Rhonda is more of the disciplinarian while Derek sees his role as more of the “reinforcer”.
“I am more . . . ,” he says as he tried to explain.
“ . . . American!” Rhonda finished, “He spoils his boys.”
He does not agree.
“They are fairly obedient, so I don’t take the heavy-handed approach if they do something wrong. I try to show them what they have done wrong and try to get them to do the right thing. Of course sometimes the [heavy-handed approach] is needed, but my style is more interactive and to talk it through,” he posited.
Derek is also in charge of homework duty every evening.
“Sometimes I feel that they cannot get started without me. . . [They tell me] ‘daddy I am doing my homework now, come! This is after coming home from work, and I might want to relax for a little bit, but I sit with them to do homework. I like doing it.”
At this stage, Derek believes one of the biggest challenges is allowing Nicholas and Dominic the freedom to build their own personalities, while instilling a sense of right and wrong. But he also enjoys teaching them the little things that will make them great.
So, maybe this proud dad is willing to add a number three?
“No thanks. I getting too old, the age is against me, two is enough!”