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Life with father

Dads say they have matured with the help of daughters

Dads say they have matured with the help of daughters

June 18, 2006|by CANDICE BOSELY

HAGERSTOWN

Vijay-Kumar Solanki remembers the first night he spent with his daughter, who was 2 weeks old at the time.

His large family had gathered in his apartment, each by turn holding the baby as a proud Solanki looked on.

"I was thinking, I could do this. This isn't that hard," Solanki, 35, said of being a single father. "And then, the family left."

Bewilderment replaced ease as Solanki found himself alone with a crying infant and no idea what to do about it.

He made it through that night and his daughter, Brenda Rhinehart - who goes by the nickname Benna - now is 10 years old. She splits her time between staying with her father and staying with her mother.

Father's Day is special for all dads, but it could hold a special significance for single fathers.

For Solanki, there never was any question that he wanted to be actively involved in his only child's life, even though his relationship with Benna's mother ended before Benna was born.

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Solanki's own father, he said, was not involved much in his life, and he wanted to ensure he didn't leave a similar void for Benna.

"I really can't imagine being without her," he said.

'Fun, annoying and generous'



Sitting at a picnic table at City Park and trying to avoid duck droppings, Tim McCarty and his 10-year-old daughter, Megan, talked about the bond they have between them.

First, though, Megan had a gripe to share.

"He doesn't like shopping, and he turns me down on what I think is cute," she complained.

Defending himself, McCarty said the "cute" shirt in question was "electric pink" with a yellow duck on it.

"I couldn't part with the green stuff for that shirt," he said.

On paper, McCarty, 42, said he shares custody with Megan's mother, who lives in Pennsylvania. In reality, though, he said she spends much of her time with him.

"It's hard (being a single father) because it's an all-encompassing thing," McCarty said. "You have nobody to share the load with."

McCarty said he and Megan have a good relationship.

"Not only do we love each other, but we're friends," he said, adding, however, that he "plays the dad" role when needed.

Lately, that's been an issue as questions about boys have started popping up more frequently.

The impending onset of womanhood, he said, worries him.

"Things seem like they happen sooner than when I was a kid," McCarty said. "The main thing is that the boy is good."

McCarty said he has talked with Megan about respect and how relationships should be uplifting.

McCarty works for the City of Hagerstown in its information technology department.

Megan enjoys cheerleading, and will be a fifth-grader this fall.

"Three words to describe him," Megan said of her father. "Fun, annoying and generous."

Generous: "He buys me stuff when I don't ask him to," she said.

Annoying: "He calls me weird names when my friends are around."

Fun: Tickling until both are laughing too hard to continue, Megan said.

They listed their shared interests as going to parks, watching an occasional movie and traveling. A trip to Annapolis is their newest upcoming venture.

Asked to describe Megan, McCarty said, "One hundred percent girl. There's not a tomboy in her."

She also is smart and artistic, he said.

"Certainly beautiful and energetic. I gotta throw those in there," he said. "She's my baby."

Megan said that when she grows up, she wants to be a famous all-in-one singer, actress, dancer and model.

McCarty has more grounded aspirations.

"I hope that Megan will grow up to be happy and healthy," with a fulfilling career and a loving family, he said.

Like Solanki, McCarty said he never had a doubt he would be involved in his daughter's life. He and Megan's mother split up when Megan was around 2 years old.

McCarty seemed genuinely bewildered when he said he could not understand how some men can help to create children and then have nothing to do with them.

"Nobody's changed more diapers than me," he said.

Father and daughter mature together



"Movies!" Benna exclaimed when asked what she and her father enjoy doing together.

"We're big movie people," Solanki said. "We usually try to go to a movie a week."

Sometimes, Solanki allowed, they go even more often, and plan this summer to take advantage of a free, family movie day at a local theater.

"I like listening to him play the guitar," Benna listed as another shared pastime.

Told by her father that he might turn down an offer to perform at next year's Blues Fest, Benna tried to change his mind.

"Please, Daddy, please," she said, wanting him to play at the annual blues festival held every summer in Hagerstown.

Solanki is a musician who plays the guitar, bass guitar, violin, banjo and drums.

"And clarinet," his daughter added.

Solanki owns Wave Industries, an audio and video company that does live sound engineering, live studio recording and video work. He also works for d'Vinci Interactive, a Hagerstown-based multimedia company that creates eLearning Web sites, as well as other types of Web sites, CD-ROMs and CDs.

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