I love this picture for three reasons:
1) The chair (my parents still had the matching couch up until 2 years ago)
2) My dad still looks exactly like this
3) I still look at him with this much love
I was going to feature a different photo today, but a school friend’s father died yesterday and I feel a burning need to write about this one instead.
Allow me to present…
11 Practical things my dad has taught me
1) You should not be allowed to drive a car until you know how to change a tire - One day, when I was 16 and newly licensed, I headed out to use the car only to discover it had a flat tire. Mid-change, as I was putting on the spare, two neighbourhood mothers came over to watch because they didn’t know how.
2) If possible, a man should own a classic tuxedo – Once or twice a year when I was growing up, my parents would attend a party that would be “black tie optional”. My father would look extremely dashing in his tuxedo while the other men wore suits. The Husband bought a beautiful tuxedo for our wedding and, in the long run, we have saved money not having to rent over the years. In fact, he wore it to a formal dinner this week.
3) Be a good salesperson – This is important in any job you do, and life in general. In a job interview, you need to sell yourself. As a parent, you need to sell the idea of healthy food and good behaviour. In my work, if I want the clinic staff to remember to refer people to my research projects, I need to sell the idea and “advertise” with reminders and notices.
4) Always be able to name a few great things about yourself – Dad is famous in our family for saying things like, “You know what I like most about me?” It’s this kind of confidence that always keeps him positive. For example, he might tell you that he played a horrible round of golf that day, but at least his drive off the 4th tee was spectacular.
5) Marry someone with different strengths than you - My dad is smart (look at all the great stuff he’s taught me) but his strengths are in implementation and daily operation. My mom is smart in a long-term visionary kind of way. They are a great team and complement each other’s abilities.
6) Know how to dance the Jive – Even before Dancing with the Stars made it commonplace, my dad could dance a mean Jive. He and Mom even once won a contest. As a little girl, I loved getting to dance with my dad at a party. Still do!
7) It’s important to always vote – When I was just 19 or 20, I was angry at my dad for something and, in an odd attempt to show my rebellion, I randomly yelled, “Well then, I’m not going to vote!” I remember him setting his jaw and declaring that he didn’t care what I did about blah, blah, blah, but voting was my duty and I would only be hurting myself if I didn’t. I voted then and always do.
8) When cooking or baking, keep the kitchen clean as you go – When he’s working in the kitchen, Dad always has a sink full of hot soapy water and a dish towel over his shoulder. If you’re finished using a bowl or a utensil, take a minute to wash it so you can reuse it. After using an ingredient, return it before moving on to the next step. At the end of things, you’re not left with mountains of stuff to wash and put away.
9) Don’t let not knowing how to do something stop you - Before my sister and I were born, Dad met a guy who was planning a group ski trip to Europe. They really hit it off and Dad convinced Mom that they should tag along… even though they had never skied before. This man and his family, became our best family friends growing up and our annual joint-family ski vacations are some of my favourite memories.
10) Never return a borrowed car without putting gas in it - I remember my older sister once borrowing Dad’s car and returning it with an empty tank. I don’t exactly remember the fall-out, but when I was of age and borrowed the car for an evening, I would always put some gas in it before coming home. Most of the time I could only spare $5, but that actually bought about a quarter of a tank back in the day.
11) When family needs your help, you make yourself available - Last weekend, The Husband called Dad and asked if he could borrow his van the next day to move some stuff into storage. Twenty minutes later, my dad was at our house and spent a couple of hours helping out. Just yesterday I had to call on Dad for some last-minute help to get CJ home from a hockey practice. No matter what he has going on, if his kids (or grand-kids) need him, he is there. It’s pure love and devotion.
I learned these 11 lessons, and much more, because Dad (and Mom, of course) always led by example. Everyday I try to raise my kids the same way.
I guess that’s just another lesson learned.
What practical wisdom have you learned from your parents?