If you were to judge the role of a father based on Father’s Day cards, it would look something like this:
• Dads provide kids with spending money.
• Dads like to fish.
• Dads insist on controlling the TV remote.
• Dads may or may not be handy with tools – but either way, it’s funny.
In other words, dads are kind of all-knowing, but distant. Benevolent, but out of touch with the intimate workings of the family. Definitely a source of humor. According to Hallmark, the major life lessons dads teach is to not crash the car on your way home from the high school Homecoming dance. Oh, and don’t crush your thumb with a hammer.
• After hearing my brothers discuss the possibility of ghosts and space aliens as they drifted off to sleep, Dad ran a garden hose underneath their beds, made moaning sounds, and scared the bejeebers out of them.
• He climbed up a second-story balcony, covered with a sheet, in response to my nephew’s dinner-table talk about Bigfoot and ghosts. (What’s with the ghosts again?)
• While joking around, he told my young brothers that he had nothing between his ears. My brother Bob checked this out while my father napped. How? By jabbing a pen into Dad’s ear. This is how Bob discovered that sometimes fathers are kidding. There was something between Dad’s ears – starting with a now-perforated eardrum.
My dad taught me more than how fun it is to scare your kids to death. Beyond the legendary family stories, my father provided the core of who I am.
Although he worked extremely long hours running his business, he provided stability in an often chaotic home life. He taught me independence and trust in my own judgment, even when others might be in a tizzy. Whether it was choosing a college, or having to make some very adult emergency decisions due to family circumstances, he supported my decision-making ability. This decidedly non-helicopter-parenting helped me learn to navigate through tough choices where there are no easy answers.
The very few times he did step in, it felt foreign to have my judgment challenged. In the end, it made me analyze the situation. Although I might stick with the same conclusion, my eyes were opened to other possible outcomes.
My dad taught me that I am worth positive attention. Whether it was joining me and our Labrador for a tea party, or standing across the retail store to watch me handle crowds during my holiday job, I always knew that I mattered.
Thanks, Dad, for driving me to early morning choir practice, and home from high school football games. Thanks for watching me jump off the footstool eleventy-eight times, and exclaiming, “Holy Smokes!” for every single jump. Thanks for not freaking out when I accidentally rolled the snowmobile down the hill.
Thanks, also, for not freaking out when I got engaged even though you thought it was too soon. (Cut to the punchline: my husband and I are still married after two decades.)
Is there a Hallmark card with all of those sentiments? There should be.