Welcome to the Father edition of Makes-Me-Smile Monday. Father is a complicated concept. It can mean as little as the accidental contribution of one of the tiniest cells in the human body and as much as Eternal Father. Mother, on the other hand, means a soft lap and wanting to press my nose in her neck, inhale and sigh deeply, something that would probably irritate her as much as my oldest wanting to snuggle me at inopportune moments does me.
But my father is somewhere between those extremes of sperm donor and god. I wasn’t sure about this when I was younger. I thought God must be like my Grandpa Hyatt (my dad’s dad): rather stern-looking and possessed of an awesome mean voice (when irked), and white-haired. I didn’t think I’d like God much either. Many girls have fond memories of being Daddy’s little princess; this is sometimes a plot device for setting up the heroine for serious relationship issues after the once-doting father abandons the family. I could no more imagine my father or grandfather abandoning their families than I could not loving my own children.
Perhaps this is one reason I like the show Alias; just like Sydney, the longer I know my dad and the more I experience parenting and life for myself, the more I love him and respect him. He has mellowed with age, and I have realized that arguing for argument’s sake is perhaps not — always — best. (Grandpa Hyatt smiles more now too).
When I was a teenager, I complained about having football-player thighs; my dad said I was lucky to have big (maybe he said strong?) thigh muscles: they’d help prevent knee problems later. My dad patiently taught me to use borrowing in subtraction when it seemed like the most unfair, un-intuitive idea ever. Later, when I studied calculus, Dad said it was one of those things that you only understand right when you’re learning it. I was so excited to know something, in that instant, that my dad did not.
At a daddy-daughter church event where fathers were to bring items that symbolized their daughters, Dad compared me to a wasp (stinging tongue) and Marcy (she doesn’t remember why) to a seashell. I don’t know if it was insensitivity or courage or inspiration that had him bring the dead wasp for me. I do know that I’ve tried, since then, to temper my tongue (if this surprises you, just imagine how bad it used to be!).
We had a cat named Bonnie-Jean Monster when I was nine; she had kittens in Marcy’s sock drawer, and we loved to play with them on the trampoline. One night we left the kittens out and the sprinklers got to them. A couple of the kittens were dead by morning. A couple others were halfway there, and my father stood in our garage with a hair dryer on the mewling kittens. I don’t think he even particularly likes cats.
Maybe my dad isn’t as different from my husband as I’ve always supposed. Temperamentally they are, but I think of a tape of music favorites my dad made about ten years ago. It included Rachmaninoff classical piano pieces, Marian Librarian from Music Man, and Joan Osbourne’s What if God was one of us. My dad is honest and candid and trustworthy and humble. I love him!
I hope you have a father story to share (not necessarily about your own father). To participate in the carnival, enter your name and (description) and post address so we can read all about it — and tell your dad (if applicable) to read it too. Or leave it in a comment. If you have any questions, send me an email or a comment.
http://www.blenza.com/linkies/autolink.php?owner=shannonj11&postid=17Jun2007(I reserve the right to delete any inappropriate links.)