Welcome to Big Old Goofy World . . . a place where I can share my thoughts, hopes, and dreams about this rock that we live on and call home.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Second Best

In over 28 years of being a father I never once received any object or piece of clothing proclaiming me as the “World’s Best Father” . . . and that is okay.  Actually I instructed the wife and kids that I did NOT want to receive any object of piece of clothing that had those words printed on them.  Primarily because I do not think that I could have handled the pressure that comes with being the world’s best anything.

As we were visiting the daughter and son-in-law in Alabama to meet our latest granddaughter I have to admit that I was impressed with the parenting skills of both of them . . . they were good.  They were attentive to their daughter, kept her fed, clothed, clean, and always smiling.  I do not think that there is anything in the world that they would not do for their daughter.  They are good parents, but . . . and this is a big but . . . I would not put upon either one of them the moniker of being the best mom or dad in the world.  The pressure would be too much.  Trust me, I know.

I know from experience that it is tough being a parent . . . especially the world’s greatest parent.

First of all, I was accident prone with the kids.  I dropped two of them when they were infants and toddlers . . . the oldest I tripped with and I was the one who took the beating protecting him from injury . . . the youngest I was rocking back in forth in my arms when he decided to roll over, fly into the heat register, and knock his two front teeth back into his head!  Amazingly, they both survived and are thriving as adults despite my best parenting.

Second of all, being the squeaky cheap guy that I am, I decided that all my sons would have to endure the barbershop of Dad.  When they were little it was easy . . . either put a bowl over their head and trim around it or buzz it off.  With years of practice and hundreds of bad haircuts I eventually got pretty good at it . . . even learned how to layer hair . . . and they survived.  They survived bad haircuts, nicked ears, and taunts of ridicule from their friends.  Now they are all going bald . . . but they survived.

Third of all, I always gave them great advice . . . which they rarely followed.  They learned quickly that Dad’s advice was to not to be ignored, but was to be reversed.  Yeah, Dad had great advice coming from the depths of his wisdom, but it was best to do the opposite . . . or to talk to Mom.  At the same time, I caught on and simplified the process. When asked for advice I always referred them to their mother . . . “Go ask your mother” was my typical response to their queries.  They survived.

Despite it all, I was good entertainment for them.  I kept them laughing . . . screaming . . . or both.  Once I had to drive the daughter and her teammates to a summer volleyball league in a nearby town.  Five teenage girls in a Toyota Corolla—it was a quiet trip . . . NOT!  As we were nearing the town a bird flew into the windshield and got stuck in the windshield wipers.  Not your typical occurrence.  With a loud thump it hit the windshield and lodged itself right under the windshield wiper.  The girls screamed. 

Being a good person who wanted to make sure the girls were not late to their volleyball league, I drove on.  Of course the girls kept screaming and telling me to get the bird off the windshield.  Now the male mind works in strange and mysterious ways . . . and I did what I think 99.9 percent of men would do . . . I turned on the windshield wipers to free the imprisoned bird.  Back and forth, back and forth, the bird shimmied across the windshield . . . but it would not come free.  The girls screamed so more.  Even at its highest setting the bird would not come out from underneath the windshield wipers.  More screams.

This is when the male mind shifts into second gear . . . I sped up.  Surely the velocity of the car’s speed and the windshield wipers set at high that darn bird would be set free.  Nope, it just kept going back and forth, back and forth.  The girls screamed . . . I laughed . . . and the bird just kept going back and forth.  Eventually it was worked free from the wipers.  It was a story I heard for months afterwards, and the girls were on time.  And, they survived.

No, I probably was not the world’s best father.  At best I was probably an adequate father.  I loved my children.  I raised them to the best of my abilities and by what the wife and I thought was right.  We laughed a lot . . . argued a lot . . . cried together . . . and we all survived.  I think that is the best that any parent can hope for when it comes to parenting . . . that the children survive.  My children survived.

Now I get the opportunity to watch my children become parents . . . and it has been entertaining for the most part!  I do not want to wish them the title of being the “best parent” . . . Nope, I want to wish them to be the best that they can be as who they are.  That is the more honest approach because it is not the “perfect” approach.  It will mean dropping the kids . . . giving them terrible haircuts (which, by the way usually grow back within two weeks) . . . and entertaining them and their friends with birds caught in the windshield wipers.  My kids survived the wife and I, and their kids will survive them.

I think that is one of the nice things about being a grandparent . . . I actually know now what parenting is all about.  But instead of preaching to the kids I have discovered that it more fun to watch the kids learn on their own.  It has provided some good laughs so far . . . and yet, they are good parents and my grandchildren will survive.  Shoot!  I survived!  And, I don’t miss the allocades of that come with being the “world’s best father”. . . I never was . . . I was just a guy who did the best that he could.  The children survived and turned out pretty good.  I really do love who they are . . . that is reward enough . . . we love each other.  Isn’t that the goal of parenting?

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