Monday, November 14, 2011

Old Man

My dad is the stereotypical tough guy father:
  • He gets his hands dirty for a living and cleans his nails each night with a pocket knife.
  • We've run out of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies to buy him.
  • He doesn't trust the Kennedys - even the women.
  • Mustache? Fu Manchu - and he can grow one in 48 hours.
  • 'Fun' is finding and attempting to eat the spiciest food possible.
  • His toolbox is meticulously organized and if you borrow a hammer, you'd best give it back.
  • He wouldn't be caught dead in shorts, or even worse, sandals.
  • Two words: Zoysia grass
Dad drove a truck over the road until I started school, so most of the parenting was done almost solely by my mom throughout my early childhood. By the time I was a teenager, Dad had gradually slowed down with his job and I came to know him as a person, understanding and even respecting the reasons that he is the way he is.

Later when I became a parent, it became evident just how many solid tips he'd passed along in regards to raising children.

1. "Why don't we just rip out the carpet and put in a damn rubber floor so we can hose the place down!"
How easy would that be if you could just pull up the flooring like the mats in your car and spray them down rather than lug the carpet shampooer out of the garage every couple of months? Our carpets are covered with stains already, but maybe I wouldn't be as leery of Hawaiian Punch if we had some sweet rubber floors. Thanks, Dad, for teaching me that there's a strong possibility that realistically what is nice now, will look like crap soon.

2. "That son of a bitch is a deathtrap! It's going in the trash!"
It's never the kid's fault that they fell off of the bed that they weren't supposed to be jumping on, it's the bed's fault for having a mattress that's too bouncy. And it's the nightstand's fault for being next to the bed when someone gets a goose egg as they fall off of the bed that they weren't supposed to be jumping on. Thanks, Dad, for teaching that kids feed off of your reaction - if you freak out, they cry harder. If you focus on something else, it'll confuse the hell out of them and the tears will stop.

3. "Knock it off - act like you've been taken out in public before!"
Just once while we're out, I'd like to have no reason to quote the old man. I want the kids to be good, but if it takes more than 20 minutes, I know it'll be an uphill battle. The scenario: you notice an acquaintance at the grocery store and just they start to approach you, your kid finds it necessary to bite into an apple and lay down on the floor. You request that they get up and not only does the child shriek their refusal, she/he also makes that cute little body go limp as a noodle as you attempt to pull them to their feet. Thanks, Dad, for teaching me the fine art of smiling & threatening punishment simultaneously.

4. "I pay the bills around here and we're going to watch it because I want to watch it!"
I don't remember watching cartoons with my father - why would you need animation when you had The Waltons, Yan Can Cook, and COPS. It was pure torture as a wee one, but for some unknown reason I stayed and watched anyway. As a mom though, I've figured out the secret to controlling the television is to make the kids believe that what you're watching is cooler than it really is. Do my kids actually enjoy watching House Hunters International with me? No, but they like to guess which house the buyers will choose out of the three. Thanks, Dad, for teaching me that John-Boy might've seemed boring, but there was a reason everyone liked him so much.

5. "Jesus, let's just install a hog trough/Stop slurpin & smackin and chew with your mouth closed!"
Teaching your children table manners is important, and you have to start teaching them young. It didn't matter how quietly we ate or how careful we were, something was bound to go wrong. I find myself constantly reminding my kids to chew with their mouths closed and to take smaller bites, and if we're having supper with Granny and PaPa? Have mercy, please don't let it be soup...Thanks, Dad, for allowing me the comfort of knowing that one day my children will be as embarrassed by their children in a restaurant as you were of me, and as I am of them.

Pearls of wisdom, friends, passed down like family heirlooms.

What's the best piece of parenting advice that your father passed down to you? Leave it in the comments section please, I'd love to read them.