Father’s Day

Since I did a blog post for Mother’s Day, I better reciprocate and do one for Father’s Day too.  Just like last month, I will comment on ten things about my experiences with Dad.  Who needs a physical gift when you can instead get a heartfelt reflection?

What’s interesting is that a lot of them will come back to the bike.

Dad, if you read this first (even though I somewhat doubt that will happen), please do the honorable thing and get Mom the tissue box before you show it to her. 🙂

1) Dad is also the do-it-all person of the household, in complementary ways to Mom.  Whether it is a broken light, a table problem, or my bike tire going flat again, Dad has a wide variety of knowledge on how to fix things.  Granted, I have not absorbed it from watching yet, but I should learn how to do some of the basic handiwork.  He emphasizes knowing basic repairs so as not to have to call in a repairman.

2) Dad is thrifty.  Sometimes to a fault, but he has really taught us (i.e. my siblings and me) how to save money and avoid overspending, even if money is not particularly an object.  Once I started working at Runza in my tenth grade year, he insisted that I save a total of money that would allow me to contribute to the Roth IRA maximally each year.  I have contributed the max amount since the age of 15, and therefore my nest egg is now a healthy _________ (you really thought I was going to reveal possibly sensitive financial information? 🙂 )

And this thriftiness pays off when we go on vacation, as any extras are therefore no extra burden.

3) Dad encouraged us to pursue lifetime physical activity.  When we lived in Fort Dodge, he taught us all how to ride bikes, and as I was in first, second, and third grade, family bike rides to the mall and McDonald’s on Sunday became a ritual.  There were also the few times that we would bike to the country club, up a very difficult and long hill on a busy-ish road in Fort Dodge, over the river.  Because it was a family ride, the cars respected our small peloton, despite each time me having to walk the bike up the rest of the hill about halfway through.  This was prior to getting a bike with gears!

Although he didn’t say it explicitly at the time, it certainly planted the seed in me to use a bike as a main mode of transportation.  This was further cemented once I got to UNL and realized that you pay zero for gas when you ride a bike.

4) Dad’s apparent anger is actually tough love.  When I was younger, I was often intimidated by Dad’s powerful voice and insistence on doing chores.  I tend to shrink into my own world when someone yells at me, despite often growing up with this.  Around the house, he would sometimes bark at us for not doing chores, or blow up at us for making mistakes.

However, now that I have moved out of the house and also matured, I realize that what I used to interpret as his anger is simply tough love.  His insistence on having everything correct is one way to set us up for success, by not settling for less than our capability.  As for chores and yard work, looking back on it now, I really appreciate all the hard work that we did, no matter how grating on me it was at the time.

But, would I have appreciated it or been able to spin it in this way if he HAD said, “You’ll thank me later?”  Though I have never heard him explicitly say that phrase, it is something that comes to mind for me.

5) Dad was involved when I was young.  In the Chicago Tribune today, I read quite a few articles about fatherhood, lessons from it, and ideas about why involved fathers lead to more successful offspring.  I especially liked the idea of fatherly involvement in order to provide a different perspective from Mom.

For example, when I was younger, both Mom and Dad would read to me at bedtime.  Mom read stories to me, such as “Henry Huggins” or “The Phantom Tollbooth.”  Dad also read to me, but instead, it was from the book about the periodic table of elements.  I think he always saw the inclination for math and science in me, and has encouraged that, even in ways that I have possibly taken for granted.

And, his methods of play were often quite interesting.  These include the game “MONSTER,” where he acted… like a monster running around the house with pots and pans and other things.  And when we lived in Fort Dodge, we bungee-jumped off the back deck with his supervision!

6) My bonding with him has grown as I have gotten older.  They say that you don’t appreciate what you have until you don’t experience it every day.  I certainly agree with this.

I saw him as a “boss” more than as a father and friend when I was young, even up to early high school.  Even with some of the fun stuff that I mentioned earlier, I felt intimidated by his presence at times.

I think that one major change came on Father’s Day 2003, when we did the Journal-Star’s Trail Trek.  As a family, we went on an organized bike ride, and it was a good way to bond with each other.  Granted, I think we became a lot closer that year anyway, since Grampy (his dad) lost a battle with an abrupt heart attack a few weeks prior to that.  Maybe it mellowed him a little, or maybe it let me see the human side of him.  I don’t know!

7) He has been a good health advisor for me.  Having a M.D. as a dad is a good thing, since he knows a lot about good health.  I am generally in very good health, and the most common problems that I have are minor stomachaches, likely triggered by my mind.  Talking with, or calling him, often mitigates the minor maladies maligning me.

Also, he realizes, in talking about health, that we are all human.  He believes in good balance, and this is much appreciated by me.

8) Riding my bike with him is something I look forward to when I go back to Lincoln.  This speaks for itself.  During the summer before I came to Northwestern, we rode around Lincoln almost every Tuesday on bike.  This often involved eating at restaurants that neither of us had gone to before, and was just good one-on-one bonding time.  We also get this on Sundays, when we ride to The Mill to hang out with the synagogue men’s group.

Speaking of which…

9) Dad has been a strong factor in my Jewish values.  Both Mom and Dad helped me out with my preparation for my בר מצוה (bar mitzvah), but I feel that Dad encouraged me to think more about it and consider how it applies to my life.  We have had discussions about religiosity versus practice, and how they need not be congruent.  I get different perspectives about this from Mom versus Dad versus people at the synagogue, but hearing Dad’s perspective has often been influential to me.

10) Dad is Dad.  Just like on Mother’s Day, I should say this.  I love him greatly, even if some of his mannerisms have gotten to me in the past.  I am blessed to have loving parents that have raised me right.  I can attempt to internalize their merits, and learn from some of their shortcomings.

Here’s a photo of Dad & I enjoying some bonding time after the cardboard boat race at Hillcrest on Father’s Day, 2008.



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