Sunday, 4 September 2011

Father's Day

The older I get, the more evident it becomes that I'm turning into my Father.

At least in some ways.

There's a lot of my Mother in me as well but today is time to talk about Dad.

When my siblings and I were kids and we were on the obligatory summer holiday trip - to the beach or to go camping or to visit relatives who lived enough hours away to make visiting a rare occasion - there were things that Dad did that drove us crazy.

He made terrible puns.
He'd pull over to examine historical markers and sites signposted on the highway when all we wanted to do was get to our destination.
He'd steer with his elbows whilst blowing his nose.
He'd take detours because he thought they looked interesting and we'd never been there before.
He'd tell us 'fascinating facts' and then quiz us about them later.

Drove us absolutely nuts.

But those things that drove us mental, are now the things I love (even if the puns still make me groan) and appreciate. And have started, sadly in some cases, to emulate*.

I never appreciated until quite recently the extent to which my Father, coming from a cultural and familial background that favours and coddles sons**, went out of his way to make sure I always felt capable and worthy and just as good as the boys.
He signed us up for a father-daughter group when I was little which took us on various trips and activities, let us do all sorts of arts and crafts, and where we got to spend time together.
He helped me with my homework but never gave me the answers, insisting that he'd be doing me no favours and telling me that I could do it if I put my mind to it, giving me hints and gently questioning my answers to make me think things out.
He let me take up dozens of different sports and hobbies for as long as they held my interest, and challenged me to be sure I wanted to give them away before I did and that I was doing so for the right reasons***.
He bought me biographies of famous female explorers and athletes and scientists.
He bought me books on many different subjects, novels by many different authors and encouraged me to chase anything I was interested in.
He supported me in my studies and travels.
He still does.
He taught me how to ride a bike, how to fly a kite, how to do all those other kid-friendly things that parents are supposed to teach you but mostly he taught me how to think.

Even all those stupid, maddening things he did on family trips are examples.
He taught me to be interested in the world.
That you should always choose new experiences over repetition****.
That there's never a bad time to learn something new.
That if you're passionate about something you should share it with the people you care about or with anyone willing to listen, and that you should listen to them when they share their passions with you.
He taught me to give a damn.
And I love him for it.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.

*Puns. You must have noticed my tendency dorky alliterative blog post titles by now.

**Italian. Also Irish, do the Irish do that as well? I don't know any stereotypes about Irish mamma's boys.

***E.g. Not because 'It's tooooooooo haaaaaaaaaaaard' or 'I don't want to geeeeet uuuuuuuuuup at 7am' or 'But my friends are doing something else'.

****I don't always follow through on this one (especially when it comes to DVDs) but when I have the opportunity to do something new, I almost always say yes.

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