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7 Lessons Learned From My Dad

In the dad blogiverse, it seems to be a requisite to write a post about Father's Day. I've seen guides to the best Father's Day gifts, guides to the WORST Father's Day gifts, explanations of what fathers REALLY want on the holiday and much, much more. I'm hopping on the bandwagon and putting up a Father's Day post, but instead of focusing solely on my role as a father (Which I do most of the time on the blog anyway), I want to dedicate this post as an open letter to my dad. He's an amazing man, and all of my parenting methods (which I like to think are very good) are derived from the way he raised me.

So Dad, without a lengthy introduction, here's a list of 7 of the top moments/memories I shared with you that helped shape who I am today. Some are fun, some are sentimental, but they are all incredibly important and whether you know it or not, make me who I am today and have helped to mold me into the father I strive to be.

1) The success/hard work talk

This is the day in high school when you sat me down with the binder that contained the financial information for my college fund. You essentially summarized the fact that if I worked hard and busted my butt in high school and college, that I would earn scholarship to pay for my education and the money in my college fund would ultimately be mine after I graduated. At the time, it was probably the most sensible way for you to get the message across that hard work reaps its benefits. I was an egotistical teenager, though, so using the money as an 'ultimate reward' was an excellent way to illustrate the point. I'm proud to say I did earn a share of that college fund after graduation, and the overall message sticks with me today. I bust my ass at my job every day, knowing that even if I don't see an immediate reward, it will pay off in the long run.

2) Letting me taste your beer

What kid isn't curious about what their parents' beer tastes like? Heck, Ava already points and grabs at my beer glass, curious about this mysterious 'grown up drink'. But when I was a kid, and would have those random, occassional sips of MGD or Rolling Rock, I was repulsed. Why would anyone want this? Forget being a grown up, I'll stick with my Ecto Cooler and cream soda. Really, there was a lesson to be learned even in this small action: Don't be too eager to grow up. There's a reason that certain things are held exclusive to those older than you; it takes some aging, maturing and growing to be ready for them. From beer to relationships to money and everything in between, some things are just better after you've had some years of experience on this planet. And what do you know? Now I'm a beer fanatic, and I drink beers that you are taken aback by. Funny how that all came full circle..

3) Telling us you lost your job
I didn't believe you at first. I was a kid, and didn't really understand. I'm sorry for that. When you're a kid, you see your parents as invincible (especially a son towards his dad), and it was hard to grasp the idea of something so horrible happening to someone so seemingly strong and indestructible. But it happened. And when you told us that night at dinner, you handled it with tact and a respectable air of calmness. I don't doubt that you were screaming, crying and frustrated inside. But you didn't let it show. You knew that you couldn't upset us, and that to us, everything needed to be "alright", even if it really wasn't. At that moment in time, you were a shining example of humbleness and positivity while staring in the face of loss and disappointment. While I certainly don't hope I ever have to endure getting laid off, I hope that if it does happen, I handle it in the manner you did.

4) Steak N "Shake"

I know it's dumb. But I'll never forget your Steak N Shake joke. In case you forgot (which I doubt you have), it was nothing more than you saying the name of the restaurant, then dancing and gyrating your body as you said the word 'shake'. I have every intention of taking Ava to Steak N Shake at least once in her life so I can repeat this joke. Every corny joke I tell or silly thing I do when with my daughter, there's always going to be a shred of inspiration drawn from your Steak N "Shake".

5) Seeing you cry

The specific moment that has always stuck out in my mind is when we had to bury Sophie, the family dog. Dad, we were in a house full of emotionally-driven, sensitive women. I don't fault them for that by any means, but given the circumstances, I understood why you might have felt a need to be the 'strong' one during sadness or tragedy. But when Sophie passed away and we opted to bury her in the backyard, you broke down like I had never seen before. The vision of you lowering her down, then starting to sob as you scooped dirt back into the hole, will always stay with me. To some, the passing of a family pet might not mean much, but to our family, it was a big deal. Seeing you react the way you did and watching the tears run down your face implanted a permanent reminder in my brain that it's okay to cry, even when others might not think it's necessary or approriate. Nothing is wrong with showing emotion, even in situations when you may be the only one showing it. A constant tough guy facade is overrated and unhealthy.

6) Playing 'What's on the ceiling?'

How could I ever forget this game? You played this with Jill, me AND Libby. We are talking a 'homemade' game that stood up to over a decade's worth of use. You should be proud of yourself! But even more so, laying there and imagining what was on the ceiling was an incredible way to develop our imaginations and sense of creativity. Let's face it, nobody ever wanted to see the same thing on the ceiling twice. Dinosaurs, food, spaceships and more; nothing was off limits in 'What's on the ceiling?', and that's what made it so great. If I didn't have 'What's on the ceiling?', would I be as creative as I am today? I doubt it. To be especially corny, the world is my ceiling and I can create whatever I want.

7) When you told me I'm a great dad

There's not much else to say about this, other than it was a defining moment in my life. To hear you tell me that I'M a great dad is like Daniel-San having Mr. Miyagi tell him he's a karate master. I learned from the best, and to get a compliment on my parenting from my mentor is about as meaningful as it can get. I can only hope that as I grow as a father, that I live up to your example.

I hope to pass on the lessons I learned from you to Ava as she grows up: work hard and you will reap the benefits; don't be in a hurry to grow up; stay humble and hopeful in the face of adversity; always stay silly; don't be afraid to cry, even if others may not; always let your creativity and imagination grow; and when she has children, I'll remind her to always encourage and compliment them on the amazing job they are doing.

I love you, Dad. Happy Father's Day, thank you for all of the lessons you've taught me, both directly and indirectly. And thank you for being such a great Grandpa. Now, I just have to hope that you read this!


That was a wonderful read. Like I've said previously, I can relate to almost everything you blog about. Much, much props to you sir.

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