Last year at about this time, I was sitting with my family enjoying lattes, hot chocolate and sunshine in front of the bookstore at Denali National Park. My 16-year-old exchange student daughter took the opportunity to start making fun of her father, particularly the way he dresses out-of-fashion clothes, black socks with shorts, and other typical dad wear.
As a young dad who does not have a lot of money to spend on a new wardrobe for every season, my flannel was ruffled.
“Do you know why your dad dresses that way?” I asked. “Maybe it’s because he has to shell out $80 for a pair of ridiculous-looking, ill-fitting, bell-bottom jeans just so you can be stylish.”
Though my exchange daughter was pretty sure her dad dresses the way he does because he is a geek, I must have raised my voice a little in his defense, because a gentleman a few tables over started cheering in my direction.
Everywhere you look these days, pop culture portrays fathers, as my exchange daughter put it, as geeks. Or idiots, or incompetent nincompoops take your pick.
In movies, TV shows, even commercials, Dad can’t do anything right. He doesn’t know how anything works, takes on projects he can’t handle and isn’t capable of doing anything without guidance from someone else.
While it might not move a lot of inventory, I’ve like to see dads portrayed in a more positive light. I’ve always pictured Dad as a real life Superman mild-mannered Clark Kent most of the time, but ready to save the day at a moment’s notice.
Sure, we might not be faster than a speeding bullet or more powerful than a locomotive, but I’ve leapt over tall tricycles and Tonka dump trucks in a single bound. Yes, I’ve also tripped over Tonka dump trucks, but I’m focusing on the positive here all the things dads can do, not what they can’t.
Here’s to dads who do know how things work and manage to fix every little thing around the house, from a bad thermocoupler on the boiler to a squeaky door in the bathroom. It might take multiple trips to the hardware store and a few days using the downstairs bathroom, but we get it fixed.
Here’s to dads who are happy to let their kids “help” with all those projects around the house even though the time it takes to complete those projects increases with each “helper.”
Here’s to dads who change the oil, filters and the diapers.
Here’s to dads who bring home the bacon, then wrap it around a nice fillet and throw it on the grill.
Here’s to dads who see value in letting their kids get up and dust themselves off, and not making a big deal out of every bump and scrape, and dads who know much can be learned from playing in the dirt.
Here’s to dads who jump in to help with their kids’ activities, not for their own self-interest, but because they are interested in providing a healthy environment for their kids. Here’s to dads who create spreadsheets to ensure every player gets a chance to play every position during a youth soccer game.
Here’s to dads who have high expectations for their kids, and are “firm but fair” in making sure their kids meet those expectations.
Here’s to dads who take their kids hiking, camping, fishing and hunting, and instill in them an appreciation for the wonders that surround us.
Here’s to dads who teach their kids how to care for their equipment and can take pride in knowing a cherished heirloom will be taken care of for another generation.
Here’s to dads who teach their children respect and responsibility.
Yes, we do not-so-bright things from time to time. Ironically, as I was writing this column, my wife called to let me know my dad was helping get ready for a camping trip by making up spaghetti sauce ahead of time, and as a result, there was sauce on every horizontal surface and most of the vertical surfaces in the kitchen, not to mention the splashes of tomato paste that somehow ended up in the dining room.
Still, we’re not dolts.
With Father’s Day two weeks away, try doing something a little different this year. Instead of a tie or another pair of socks you know he’s just going to wear the black ones anyway how about giving Dad a compliment.
Will Morrow is a reporter at the Peninsula Clarion. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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