For this personal narrative project, I wrote a memoir about my childhood memory of how my dad, who was very busy, showed his love to his daughter by trying his best to spend more time with me. I tried to convey his characteristics by using his own style of voice and adding the actual conversation we had in the situation.
“Hi daughter, how was school today? Anything good?”
My dad is a busy person. He is a doctor—he works 6 days in a week and often takes class on Sunday. He is in Korea now, only my mom and my sister are in China with me, but even when we were all in Korea, he came home after 8pm almost every day except for the weekends because of his work. But when I was younger, he was busier. My mom once told me this funny but sad story; she brought me and my sister to a child counseling psychology center— it’s not because we had some kind of serious psychologic problem, but at that time in Korea, moms with 4-7 years old kids visited those centers a lot. So, the counselor asked us to do few things, and one of the things we were asked to do was drawing a picture of our family. The result was shocking, because I didn’t draw my dad in the picture, and this confused my parents so much. The counselor asked me why I didn’t include him in the picture, and I answered, “Dad went to work so he is not at home!”. When I asked my dad later how he felt at that moment, he said he was really concerned about what if he is doing now for his family isn’t what his family actually wants. And he asked me for understanding even though he might not be able to be perfect because it’s his first time to be someone’s father.
However, even though it was his first time, he did a pretty good job. Maybe, the best job, maybe. As I remember, I was a second grader, and I was going back to school after the Summer vacation. The first day of elementary school after break is always a chaos. Kids always run around the class and yell at each other fighting over stuffs and telling their vacation stories without any listeners. I was telling my friend that I went to China with my sister and stayed in my Uncle’s house for a week. Then my friend told me that she went camping with her dad and her younger brother. She said she caught a little fish with a plastic bottle with her brother but let it free because it was too small, and they made a camp fire at night, sitting around, eating barbeque and marshmallows.
Her camping story was just amazing. I’ve never gone camping before and I barely spend time with my dad, but she said it’s already her third time camping with her dad. Third time! I felt so unfair. So that night I asked my dad if we can go on a camping together this weekend. “Dad, can we go on a camping this weekend?” Unfortunately, he said “Camping? It sounds great, but I’m so sorry, I’m really busy this weekend. How about next weekend? Is that okay?” But I had to go camping this weekend, so that I can tell my friend my awesome camping story on next Monday which should be better than hers. I started to beg my dad and tell him that my friend camping during Summer and it would be great for us to go there too. “Dad! Today, I went to school, and my friend and I were talking about our summer vacation, and my friend said she went camping with her dad and her brother, and she said it was so much fun and that I should also go camping with my family! So…. can we go camping this weekend? Please? If we can go on camping this weekend, umm…I’ll promise you that I will finish all my homework on Friday…and umm…I’ll get 100% on Monday’s spelling quiz!! So please, dad…” I was elaborating all the weird reasons of why we should go camping this weekend to persuade him, like it could rain heavily next weekend, or maybe the stars will explode and disappear some day in next week and won’t be able to see them when we camp.
Then suddenly, he stood up and left the living room without saying anything. I thought he was angry at me begging for things that he already said no. So, I followed him out to say sorry, but what I saw was dad taking out something huge from the balcony. “Dad, what are you doing?” He didn’t answer, but he took out a large orange tent that seemed like was collecting dust for decades. I asked him why he took this out already if we are not going on a camping this week, but he said we will. I didn’t understand what he is talking about, I just thought he is going to do something unexpected.
Then, he took the tent outside to our garden, and asked me to bring some blankets and pillow while he set up the tent. What he decided was to camp in our garden. It was such a great idea, because I didn’t care where we camp, it could be anywhere, if I could just camp with my dad. So, I called my mom and my younger sister for help. Mom brought some snacks and drinks we can have before we go to sleep and my sister helped me carry the blankets and pillows.
Finally, everything was ready and we all lay down in the tent, leaving the tent opened and looking up the sky. The sky full of glitters looked as if I could scoop it all up in my hands and let them swirl and touch one another. The wind was chilly, and the stars burned with the brilliant sapphire pallor of light. Outside was dark as if the sky was covered with a huge blanket, and only the lantern and the moonlight was brightening the garden. With the lantern on, we all listened to dad’s made-up stories for hours until we all fell asleep one by one.
“So, what are you going to do now? Homework? Is everything okay at school? How is your math going?”
“No worries, it’s all fine. Do you ever notice that you ask those same questions every day?”
“Okay okay, I know. Good night then, I love you.”
“umm…do you remember the first time we camped in our garden?”
My personal narrative starts with a video call from my dad and moves on to my family background, the relationship between me and my dad in particular. To create depth in my family background, I added another short story of how I didn’t draw dad in the picture of my family when I was young. I also added my dad’s perspective of how he felt that moment to show my dad’s characterization.
The following paragraphs are the main part of the narrative, which is about the first camping with my dad in my life. This is actually a flashback that I am going through from my dad’s call.
Throughout the camping story, the characterization of myself is portrayed as an immature child who wants to spend more time with dad. In the story, it seems like I am begging to go on a camping, but what I actually wanted was to spend more time with my dad. I repeated the phrase ‘with my dad’ and using italics in the part of “but she said it’s already her third time camping with her dad” to emphasize that what I was envy about wasn’t that she just went on a camping, but that she went on a camping with her dad.
The last paragraph of the personal narrative comes back to the video call with my dad. He asks the same question that he always asks, and I answer to it impudently, which almost ends the call. This part reveals how our relationship has changed over a few years, creating a huge contrast between when I wanted to be with dad longer and when I want to end the call. Then suddenly, the moment of the first camping flashed into my mind, which makes me miss those days when we were much closer. Finally, I ask dad if he still remembers the moment, and this connects back to the main story.