I have learned in life that biology has little to do with who your Dad is and more to do with the person who is always there to support you and pick you up when you’re down. I am lucky enough to be loved unconditionally by two people I call Dad. This post is dedicated to one of them on their 64th birthday as I reminisce on some of my favorite childhood memories and lessons learned.
“I’m the adult and you’re the child.” I absolutely hated this statement growing up. I hated it even more when my Dad made me repeat it to him. He really knew how to put you in your place when you talked back. I vowed growing up I would never, ever say this to my children and then, on one mortifying day, it happened – I became my Dad. In college, I was the director of a day camp for at-risk youth. I loved my job but it was also trying to figure out how to set boundaries and induce respect in my relationship with the kids. Technically, I was only 4 years older than the oldest kid at camp so it got interesting. In particular, there was one kid who tested my limits every single day. One day, when he pushed a kid down on the playground, I lost it. I grabbed his arm and marched him over to the bench and demanded he sit down and write an apology. Before he could even ask why he had to do it, I slammed a piece of paper and pencil down and said, “And you’re going to do it because I’m the adult and you’re the child which means you’re going to do what I say!” It was awful.
The value of money. My dad loves to tell the story of when he decided to teach me the value of money by giving me $100. I was ecstatic because while he stressed the fact I had to take the whole family out to dinner and then buy groceries for the rest of the week, all I heard was, “..and after that, you get to keep any money left over.” I thought I was genius because I demanded everyone order water at dinner and that any plate over $10 was off limits. Afterwards, at the store, I thought I was even more genious for buying all the off-brand items. Nothing but the bare essentials was my motto. When my Dad asked if he could have cookies of some sort, I told him no. Finally, at the checkout counter, I pulled out the last of my money to pay the bill. I was left with less than $5. Obviously I was extremely disappointed becauase I thought for sure I’d make bank, but alas, I did not. In hindsight, I think this was a fabulous lesson to teach your kid when they think money grows on trees, however, I invariably blame my Dad for this experience because I’m pretty sure that’s where I learned to be incredibly cheap.
That’s life. In life, you’ll go through ups and downs. You’ll experience the good and the bad. Your heart will get broken by friends and by boyfriends, your car will break down in the middle of the ghetto, someone you love will die, you won’t make the cheerleading squad…you get the picture. When I used to talk to my Dad about how awful my day may have been or how stressed out I was he always asked me how big my problem was compared to someone elses. He would say, “There’s always someone out there going through something far worse than you.” Even though he was right, his response used to make me so angry because I always felt like it belittled my feelings. Hey Dad, in my world, it’s a really BIG deal when I don’t make an A! I once told my Dad how his response made me feel and I’ve never heard him say it since. Rather, he replaced it with a new rule (and probably one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in my quest for a fulfilling, happy life). Now it’s, “Lindsay, you get one day to feel sorry for yourself. Tomorrow, your attitude better change.”
To know good, you have to go through the bad. Dad taught me that hardships exist in life for a reason. If your life was good all of the time, you’d take everything for granted. Dad has been through some of the most trying times I’ve ever known anyone to go through, especially with his health in the past four years. While the experiences have been hard, stressful, scary and sometimes heartbreaking, I think the experience has made him appreciate all of the other good things in his life that much more. For all the bad experiences I’ve gone through, I’ve learned to look at the positive side. What did the experience teach me or what was one positive thing that came out of it? I’ve come to think of the hardships I’ve gone through as sort of a reality check – they keep me from being up in the clouds for too long.
A love for the spanish language. My obsession with latin culture and the spanish language has always been supported by my Dad. I grew up in a pretty sheltered environment and had a great childhood. I never went through anything traumatic or life changing and I never really had any exposure to other cultures. Since my Dad spent his early 20s traveling the world he’s always encouraged me to get out there and do the same. When I moved to Guatemala, Dad was one of my most staunch supporters. Today, when I was thinking about some of my favorite memories, I had a vivid flashback to when I was first starting to learn Spanish and my Dad decided he would learn it too through audio tapes. I have this very distinct memory of him running around the house putting stickys on all the furniture, walls, and household items that showed the item’s equivalent spanish word. So, for example, you’d walk into the kitchen and on the sink was “el fregadero”, the stove “la estufa”, the oven “el horno” and so on. I don’t know why, but when I think of this, my heart smiles.
As much as I’m a Momma’s girl, I’m equally a Daddy’s girl too. Here’s to wishing you a happy 64th birthday, Papa – I love you!