Things My Dad Taught Me

Happy Father’s Day!  Today we spent the day swimming, riding bikes, eating pizza and watching golf.  Ryan got to choose the day’s events and as it turns out, they seemed to lean towards things the kids like to do…minus the golf watching.  They are not fans of watching golf.

I called my dad this afternoon to wish him a happy Father’s Day and I started to think of all the things that I have learned from my dad.  I really had to think about it.  I’m not saying my dad hasn’t taught me anything, but it’s hard to pinpoint the real lesson.  If you know my dad, he tends not to be real straight forward.  He kind of speaks in sentence fragments and in code and can jump from one subject to another without you realizing it.  It was funny to watch Ryan talk to my dad the first time – Ryan had no idea what the hell was going on.  He has since figured out how to communicate with his father-in-law. There is always a lot of sarcasm and wit when talking to my dad and if you struggle with that kind of humor, you may not enjoy talking to my dad.  It has happened on more than one occasion that I have had to explain “the joke” to someone, which usually makes my dad explode into fits of laughter.

Here are the most useful lessons and skills my dad has taught me.

  • Nicknames are much better than someone’s real name.  My dad doesn’t call anyone by their first name.  Not even me.  He shortens it to Am or may lengthen it to Amomous.  When he’s talking to someone about me, he refers to me as Daughter Dearest.  He taught high school for over 30 years and I don’t know if he could name one student by their given name.  He would tell me stories about a girl he referred to as “Blondie”, he coached with a guy he called “Show” (which was actually just shortening his last name), guys were frequently called Meatheads.  If my dad didn’t put any variation on your name or have a nickname for you, he may not have liked you.  I won’t say he didn’t like you, but if you had a nickname, it was almost certain he was fond of you.
  • It’s never too late to start something new.  My dad went back to school and got his Masters in Special Education when he was in his 50’s.  He ran his first marathon a few years after earning that Masters Degree.  He also took up golf during that decade – maybe he was going through a midlife crisis, but at least he didn’t buy a sports car and start wearing a rug.  Anyway, it made me realize that if I decide that I want to start a new career at some point, I have plenty of time to do it.
  • Cotton pickin’ and dog gonnit are legitimate phrases to express disdain.  I have been making fun of my dad for years about these two.  The cotton pickin’ air conditioner is broken.  Usually dog gonnit is a sentence in and of itself.  I have no idea what either means, but I know my dad is usually pissed off when he says either one.  It’s not like he doesn’t swear and this is his “nice” way of expressing frustration.  They are just two phrases that I have never heard anyone else say but my dad.
  • How to throw a football and not to close my eyes when catching a ball.  My dad was a head football coach forever and while I still don’t understand all of the formations or plays, I do have a fairly firm understanding of the game which comes in handy if you marry a man that watches football every waking moment during the season.  My dad would always tell me to quit throwing like a girl.  And I would reply with, “But I am a girl!”  Eventually, I understood what he meant.  When I was learning to play softball, we were in the front yard playing catch.  Each time I went to catch a ball, I would close my eyes.  I still usually caught the ball, but obviously, not the best strategy.  Once he threw me a pop fly and I was right underneath it, glove up and I closed my eyes at a crucial second.  It slammed into my forehead.  “Don’t close your eyes, Am.”  Huh…maybe he was on to something.
  • On that same note, and I mentioned this earlier in the week, if I got hurt and it was clear it wasn’t life threatening, my dad would tell me, “It’s a long way from your heart.”  In other words, you aren’t going to die – buck up and get back out there!  I have said this to Kamryn and Rory and I get this really confused look in return.  I remember not fully understanding this until I reached a certain age, but I think it’s probably good to start young.
  • Possibly one of the most useful lessons my dad has taught me is:  it’s only money.  I have had two major car issues in my life.  The first was totaling my roommates car in college and the second was getting my car stolen when I was 24.  In both instances I was really upset not only because of the shock of the situation but because of the huge expense and the lack of funds I had.  In both instances my dad said “Did anyone get hurt?”  I replied with a sniffling, “No.”  And he said “Well, then it’s just money, Am.”  Yep, itis just money and I can always make more.  This was by no means an open invitation to go and blow a bunch of money on useless shit, but instead when something is out of your control and the money is the most upsetting part…it’s just not worth worrying about.

I don’t know if these were lessons my dad realized he taught me or even intended on teaching me, but he did and I’m glad he did.  I use at least one of the above every single day.