In honor of Father's Day 2019, and especially for all of those father's out there who had no role model themselves (which includes me), I offer the following: The Top 10 thing I wish I would have been taught to me by my father. Listed in no particular order.
- Screwdrivers. There is no functional limit as to the number of screwdrivers (or, as my youngest daughter used to say when she was very small "who-di-bers") that a father should own. Owning 24 is as good as owning 10. 30? Even better. The more, the better, because you never know when (or where) you may need a screwdriver.
- How To Tie A Necktie. A kid from the neighborhood taught me how to toe a necktie, just in time for parochial high school. This is a must-have skill in life, be it for the occasional funeral or when the executives are showing up at work.
- Save Extra Screws, Nuts, and Bolts. Hardware such as screws, nuts, and bolts is strategically packaged to always have an extra piece or six. Save those extra parts! You never know when may need a half inch decking screw. Plus, there is a certain satisfaction in knowing that, after you die, your next of kin will have to go through all your stuff and wonder "why the hell did he save all of this s#it?".
- Be A Good Man. The world can be a cruel, unforgiving place at times, which makes it all the more important to not add to the insanity. Be empathetic, considerate and compassionate. All of those traits cost basically nothing, but yet can be priceless to someone having a bad day. Be the person who folks say "is a good man".
- Most Dogs Are Better Than Most People. It's true. What's more, anyone capable of abusing a dog (or other animals) is wholly capable of being equally cruel to other humans. Don't allow people like that into your life.
- Confidence vs. Humility. Finding the right balance between confidence and humility is actually harder than college-level calculus. Having worked on both, I say this with 100% certainty. I tend to air on the side of humility, which isn't necessarily a good thing.
- Tell Your Children That You Love Them. Love is never implied. Love is the most active of action verbs...it only really exists when it is being acted upon/shown. Part of that action is in doing the daily things of a father well (fixing things, going on school trips, embarrassing your kids in front of potential/real boy/girlfriends). Part of it is in simply telling your children that you love them, often. Part of it is in when knowing when not to parent.
- Work Hard. Set a good example as a father by working hard at everything you do. Be as passionate about cutting the grass as you are about your career. Teach your children that there is dignity in all work and that no one should ever be above getting their hands dirty.
- Don't Be Afraid (Of Yourself). "An honest man's pillow is his peace of mind" is what John Mellencamp once noted in a song. Having that ability to be comfortable with yourself, being able to face your better angels (and worse demons), not being afraid of your feelings is both difficult and necessary. It's also an example of a "practice"...it's not something you ever master, rather it's something you always work at as a father.
- Sing Loudly And Often. I have a horrible singing voice. It is wretched. While I have some decent range (my voice is on the high side for a male, thanks to a lifetime of not smoking anything, ever...but I can get pretty low if needed), what noise that comes out of my mouth is more akin to howling wolves than an angelic choir. This noted, I sing...often. Part of this is because I always have a song in my head that just needs to get out. Part of it is because, well, I just enjoy singing, talent be damned. Fathers should all set a good example by making a joyful noise, regardless of talent.
I'll close this with a song (see #10) that I think is as good any written about being a Father.
Happy (early) Father's Day.
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