Tag Archives: Fathers

Dad Sounds

I was typing on my phone the other day (“typing” comes from the word “typewriter,” which is a relic word now) and I realized I was using my middle finger to press the letters. A shocking memory rushed through my mind. When I was young my dad would point at things on a page with his middle finger, and I would be mortified.

Now, 40+ years later, here I was doing the exact same thing. In yet one more way, I’ve become my dad! Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot worse things I could become. I just wasn’t expecting to be a clueless older guy quite so soon.

I think a lot of people in my generation have deluded ourselves into thinking we’re not really getting old. It’s that baloney (bologna, for the purists) about how 50 is the new 40, 70 is the new 60, and death is the new sick.

I’ve never seen myself as “hip” (another relic word), but I do try to keep up. And yet, when I look in a full-length mirror, I see clearly that my fashion sense and my body are both pretty droopy.

Another sign: dad sounds. In an episode of “Family Guy,” the star sits down in an easy chair and says, “Well, I’m going to make some dad sounds now,” after which we hear a minute or so of sighs, groans, moans, sniffs, burps, and such. It was like looking into a mirror.

Not only that, but I’ve graduated from the age of dad jokes to the age of repeating the same dad jokes as if they had never been heard. Dad jokes, if you were wondering, are the dumb jokes many dads can’t help but share around the friends of their children. The first time I realized we dads were all telling the same jokes was when a TV dad, when asked if someone could join him, said, “Why? Am I coming apart?” Up to that point, I had thought was hilarious and original. I guess it was neither.

I realize that some of the changes I’m experiencing come from not being active enough, yet eating the same amount as before – or more. Our kids gifted us with “Fitbit” bracelets that let you know how many steps you’ve taken, calories you’ve burned, etc. I’ve only met the arbitrary goal the device set three times in a month, so that’s not good. What is good is that the thing has influenced me to park further away from a store, take a walk for now reason, or even run up the steps now and then.

I’ve often said that turning out to be my father would be the best possible outcome for me, because he was a good, smart, and honest man. That being said, I think I need to find a balance between taking on old-guy characteristics prematurely, and trying to act like I’m 20 years old again, Dude.

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Our Father Who’s Art

(Originally published the week of Father’s Day)

The former comic strip “One Big Happy” revolved around a little girl named Ruthie and her somewhat bigger brother. In one strip, they walked into the kitchen having an argument about God. Ruthie said that God’s name was Art, as in “Our Father Who’s Art In Heaven,” while her brother insisted God’s name is Hal, as in “…and Hal would be thy name.”

For some reason, I thought of that strip when I realized Father’s Day is on the way again. Not that I associate being a father with somehow being God-like. Far from it. Being a father is mostly a long series of trying to figure out what to do and how to respond to wives and children as the head of the family, knowing full well that we aren’t really in charge.

To quote Bill Cosby, “If the new American father feels bewildered and even defeated, let him take comfort from the fact that whatever he does in any fathering situation has a fifty percent chance of being right.”

Granted, there are fathers who rule the roost, but even some of them are taking orders on the side from the mothers. It’s not that fathers are powerless, but it is more that with power comes responsibility, and we aren’t that crazy about being responsible when things go wrong.

Fathers’ Day, in my view, is kind of like the Title IX of holidays. Mothers’ Day lavishes love and praise on our sainted mothers – not undeservedly, I hasten to point out. Fathers’ Day exists to balance things off, and make it appear that things are fair.

But, in reality, you can’t balance out the two days. For one thing, fathers don’t give birth, which is a really big deal, commitment wise, that our mothers do for us. Secondly, there are so many single parent households now – most of them headed by mothers – that by all appearances fathers are expendable.

I don’t believe that to be true, of course, but then again, I’m biased.

I am grateful that I had a father, and that he was a good, kind and thoughtful man. If anything, I probably would have benefitted from having a father who had more of a commanding demeanor, but that just wasn’t him, and it isn’t me either.

I guess there are as many varieties of fathers as there are fathers. The best kind are the ones who are present and engaged in their kids’ lives, and who treat the mothers of the family with respect.

I think it’s also important for fathers to tell dumb jokes and embarrass their children whenever possible.  Also, kids need to know that their father will always be there, on their side, and ready to listen to the good things and the bad stuff that life dishes out.

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