When I was a very small child I used to ask my dad so many questions. Why was the sky blue, where had dinosaurs gone, why did we keep a concrete canoe in our garden, how did TV work, why did tomatoes make me itch, why were people different colors, why was my brother a pain in the butt, why was the awesome music we listened too referred to as “classic rock”, why could we only have Hostess snacks and McDonald’s when my mom was out-of-town, why, why, why???
Now as a parent I can fully appreciate that those questions, while borne out of a natural intelligent curiosity (inherited from him so I’m told) are enough to drive a parent crazy, or at least to consider taking up a nice bottle of scotch from time to time.
These days I put up with my own UNENDING questions, particularly from my six-year-old but insanely imaginative future mad scientist who is only happy when he is “inventing” something. At times I admit to wanting to tear out my own hair (and I can’t really afford to lose the thin gray stuff that’s left), especially when he is mixing God knows what kinds of chemicals in the bathroom or practicing to be an escape artist.
At the same time though, part of me is smiling because I know that as my dad used to tell me when he was at the end of his rope – Just you wait, someday you’ll have kids of your own. Then you’ll see how funny it is to paint the neighbor’s cat or mix a can of Coke with chlorine (DON’T DO THAT! IT WILL BURN A HOLE THROUGH THE PORCH!)
So on this father’s day I salute my father. Not only did he teach me that life is a series of adventures, even if not all of them are fun…he taught me several other important life skills that are absolutely invaluable.
1. He is not my entertainment committee so by golly get creative and find something to do.
2. If you keep bugging him for dinner he will serve you reconstituted catfish whiskers…seriously.
3. Make do…or do without. Improvising is the key to success in life. You don’t have to have all the latest gadgets, toys or clothes to have fun or be cool. (My blue spray-painted Chevy S-10 truck was AWESOME!)
4. Photos are better than “stuff” which will break, fade, get lost or wear out. Memories are forever.
5. Always be yourself…and if that means wearing a straw hat, knee-high socks and rocking out to AC/DC while gardening on a Saturday morning, so be it.
6. History rocks. Read it. Learn it. Or as they say…we will be doomed to repeat it.
7. Money does not grow on trees. You must work hard and even then you may never have enough of it…but if you have a roof over your head and food to eat and a loving family (even a dysfunctional one) then you have more than enough.
8. Dogs are truly a kid’s best friend. They will never tell your secrets, and they will be persuaded with a free hot dog when you can’t get them to come home after they have run away for the zillionth time.
9. The undersides of bridges are always worth taking a look at. Go ahead, stop the car on the side of the interstate or highway, climb up under there and get a good look at those supports while the family waits. It’s important to indulge your passion every now and then or else you’ll go crazy…and then everybody suffers.
10. Macaroni is the food of the gods and I thank you every day for teaching me to make it ( and so does everyone I’ve ever made it for!) It is my favorite food.
Happy Father’s Day Daddy. I Love You, just for being you.