My Wacky Stay-at-Home Dad
I have one of those dads. You know the kind. When he's meeting my friends or neighbors for the first time, I have to hold my breath for a moment and hope he doesn't say anything too outrageous or wacky. He will talk to anyone about nearly anything. Traveling with him requires a certain level of babysitting or pretty soon he knows the life story of the lady at the ticket booth. He's just that type of guy.
The great thing about having a wacky dad is that he's the perfect companion for kids. For my entire childhood he was the stay-at-home dad who could build ramps for our Big Wheels and call the bullies, pretending to be the school principal. He was the dad who took us to the town pool barefoot in his Corvette convertible with the top down and taught us to water ski in the summer. He taught me a courage and self-worth that could have come from no other source.
When I was a teenager in trouble he taught me the power of the words, "I'm sorry," and "Can you help me?" And there was never any shame in making mistakes, just so I also made changes. When I had problems with boys in college, I was more likely to want to talk to him than my mom knowing he'd give it to me straight. Now as an adult I can turn to him for anything from problems with my car to decisions about my business.
Now my children are blessed by having him in their lives. Even as a I write this, he is visiting my home, wrestling with my five year old son, only letting him win some of the time. Later they'll likely duct tape our GPS to his Big Wheels and head off on a journey, then I'm pretty sure he'll take him out for lunch. While they're having subs I'll remember pizza slices at Jack's in my small Pennsylvania town, the taste of the salt, the sound of the laughter from my dad, proud to be out with his girl.
Looking at my grandparents, it's hard to understand where this man came from, how he knew how to parent in his own crazy way, a strange anomaly in a conservative small town. Regardless of how it happened, I'm thrilled that it did.
Happy Father's Day, Dad!
photo credit: The author's father at Walt Disney World with her son.