I wrote this post yesterday when I came across this article featuring a father brushing his daughter’s hair to get her ready for school. Apparently his wife was running late for work, and he took over getting the little girl ready to go. The picture went viral, with people commenting positively and a few negative comments (aren’t there always at least a few?), and the blogger ultimately saying that it’s no big deal for a man to take care of his children.
The older I get, the more I realize how fortunate I am to have the parents I do. Since today’s article was about a dad, I’ll focus on my dad.
My dad never blogged a photo of himself getting me or my sister ready to go somewhere. We were born well before blogging was a thing, and honestly, my dad was just plain awful at helping get us ready for anything. My mom loves to tell the story of my dad dressing me so badly (mismatched and backward clothing) as a toddler that I cried and refused to leave the house. The one, and only, time he was entrusted with taking us for haircuts, he had all of our long, curly hair chopped off into bowl cuts. He apparently thought he was being efficient. It’s still a sore topic with my mom.
But that doesn’t mean that my dad wasn’t a very active and good parent. Some of my earliest childhood memories involve a weekly trip to the library with my dad for Curious George books that we read together over the following week, and dancing around the living room together when he came home in the mornings from working third shift.
Later, he capitalized on child labor, and we made trips to the hardware store together where I picked out my own rake to use in helping out with the massive amounts of raking to be done. Chewing gum was a highlight of those trips – my mom can’t stand it, so we were never allowed to chew it around her. A trip to the hardware store with Dad meant chomping gum until your jaw ached. I thought it was wonderful at the time, and now think my dad is a genius for turning yard work into something I wanted to do, and for making the time to spend with us in the process.
Then came the self-defense lessons. My dad decided early on that having two daughters didn’t mean he had to raise two little victims. He taught us the importance of personal space, of saying no, how to get away if grabbed, and lots more. My sister and I often joke that while most dads were teaching their kids how to throw a ball, our dad was teaching us how to kick would be assailants in their…unmentionables. A bit unusual, I know, but there have been times over the years when some of those lessons have come in handy.
Today my sister and I both enjoy a good relationship with our dad. We have some great memories from when we were kids, and we genuinely enjoy spending time with him now.
I think the blogger who shared the photo is wrong that dads taking care of their kids isn’t a big deal. It is a big deal, because not every child is fortunate enough to have a dad who cares enough to help get them ready (even if they do a really, really bad job of it). Not every child is fortunate enough to have a dad who is even there. Some are, and even if they don’t realize it until years later, they’re fortunate to have a dad who does those things that don’t seem like a big deal at the time. Because good and involved dads really are a big deal. I know, because I’m fortunate enough to have one.