A refreshing star athlete’s story: NFL Star Arian Foster: 6 Things I’ll Try to Teach My Daughter
By Arian Foster, Houston Texans running back
I remember when I first got the call from my girlfriend (who’s now my wife), telling me that I was going to be a father. Her voice cracking, tears brewing, she laid it on me. It was news that would change the course of our lives forever. What the hell was I going to do? All I could think was I was a 23-year-old without a clue about how to raise a kid. I had no job, just a tryout with an NFL team.
At the time, I was chasing a 7-year-old kid’s pie-in-the-sky dream of being a professional football player (a dream that has crushed the hopes of 99 percent of children who have ever attempted it). So I guess you could say I’m one of the lucky ones that I not only hit the genetic lottery, but had people around me who believed in my dream. I had also somehow had the luck and wherewithal to keep my nose clean and do just enough in school to get by. And I had a wonderful woman looking at me with love and support, who must have been wavering back and forth herself. That’s it. That’s all I had.
When my daughter Zeniah arrived, I had a little ball of life staring at me. How could I teach her that hard work separates winning from losing when I leisurely procrastinated my way through life? How could I teach her to dream when I didn’t put everything I had into mine? How could I teach her to be a loving kind human spirit when at the time I was so bitter at life (I had just been passed on by every team in all seven rounds of the NFL draft) that my motto was “turn your back on the world and let them stab.” Hypocrites don’t make good superheroes and that’s what parents are supposed to be … superheroes. So I vowed to unlearn what I thought to be truth and completely humble myself to this experience.
I’ve thought long and hard about the values that I want to try and teach her. I’m sure this list will change as we both grow, but as of now this is what daddy wants his princess to learn from him before she tucks him away into her memory.
1. Happiness. This is probably the most cliché virtue on the list, but the most pivotal to her success. She needs to understand that “success” is a voyage, not an “x” on a map. I believe strongly that smiles are contagious, so I fill my home with as much laughter as possible. I do this in hopes that this mindset bleeds into her heart. You can’t teach happiness, per se, but you can teach perspective and let her see that the situation she is born into is unique and the things she is accustomed to are not everyone’s reality. I grew up in some rough circumstances, but in a very honest and humble way, was content with what I did have because I knew there were others out there that had less than me. This leads into the next thing I need my princess to understand.
2. The value of a dollar. I remember sometimes taking sponge baths as a boy because the water had been turned off, or my mother crying and asking me to go to bed at dinnertime because there was no food. But the most vivid memories I have were things like when my dad let me wear his favorite hat on my 8th birthday while he taught me how to make perfect scrambled eggs (which I would challenge anyone to a cook-off with). Or when my parents wanted to spoil us, we’d go to Blockbuster to pick out a movie and have family movie night. Moments like those I will hold in my memory bank for as long as my blood pumper is pumping. So how do I teach the daughter of a millionaire what money even is? The best way I’ve found for now came up after she asked for a Dora the Explorer video game that cost $34. I explained to her as best I could that daddy and mommy work hard to get these things that we call dollars. If she wanted it, we’d get it for her, but she had to earn it. We told her she had to do “chores” and every time she completed a task we marked a tally on a piece of paper hanging on the fridge. When she got to 34 “chores”, we’d buy the Dora game. She was so excited, and so was I. She really understood and took to the concept of earning and the fact that one chore meant one step closer to getting that game.