Ed. Note: The first of many articles from our resident PopLyfe Mom, Courtney.
We all know the stereotypes. Dads teach their sons about sports and girls and they teach their daughters about… well, to stay away from boys. But what about the dads who know that the guidance of a father has much more depth and consideration than the stereotype suggests? I was lucky enough to have a dad who wasn’t afraid to go against stereotypes, teaching me everything under the sun, in the face of gender roles. More important than the actual lessons, was the time I spent with my dad while he was teaching them. So for all you dads out there who love to teach and spend time with your kids, I share with you the top ten lessons I learned from my dad.
10. How To Change A Tire
This one is pretty self-explanatory. While this is a useful skill to have, the truth is that my dad was pretty "frugal" and taught me this skill so that I would never have to pay AAA to come change a tire for me. That and the fact that this was in ancient times before we had cell phones on which to call for help… So yes I can change a tire. But I also know how to call AAA.
9. How To Make My Own Pizza Dough
My dad and I shared a love of cooking. Actually, we shared of love of eating, so naturally the cooking part followed. It helped that I was obsessed with watching Yan Can Cook and Jacques Pépin on Channel 6 and fancied myself a budding chef. So while it didn’t benefit our waistlines, we had many culinary adventures. I have to say the adventure in making pizza dough was my favorite because, well, pizza is awesome. Plus, it’s much more "frugal" to make pizza than it is to buy it.
8. How To Make Fun Of Myself
My dad really didn’t care what others thought of him. He didn’t subscribe to fashion trends. In fact he knew how to make his own clothes and hats, and often sported them around town with his mortified daughter in tow. But in watching him, I learned a great lesson about how important it is to not take myself so seriously. Life is so much more fun that way. I will admit, this one I am still working on.
7. How To Tease My Brother
Okay, so this one sounds horrible, but really my dad was teaching me an important skill. Boys interact socially by teasing, taunting and trash-talking. Schoolyard teasing in childhood turns into friendly greetings of “What’s up jerk face…” among adult males. So my dad taught me how to dish it and take it from my brother, which was instrumental in my survival and a skill I still use today when I’m around guys. Yes, I resort to using grade school taunts to interact with grown men. And yes, it works.
My dad always had a project going. He did stained glass, made hats, created t-shirts, built a dollhouse, put in a deck, made beads, hand painted Christmas decorations, put in a ceramic tile floor… His enthusiasm for these projects always sucked me in and he loved getting a helping hand. At least I think he did … Putting on music and creating was a huge part of my childhood and I still have many of the things we made and built together to show for it.
5. To Do Things That Scare Me
I’m an anxious person. My dad was not. Everything scares me. Nothing scared him. So of course, he spent a lot of time trying to prove to me that doing new things can actually yield big dividends. He gave me endless pep talks and supported me. And as much as I try to tell myself otherwise, he was right.
I know I said this was a stereotype, but I swear this is different because I'm a girl. When it came to my dad, whatever he did with my brother, he did with me. My dad introduced me to every sport under the sun. He was a triathlete and an extreme marathoner before anyone even knew what those things were, and I loved that. If I didn’t get the chance to try the sport, I learned about it. Sports and competition is a universal language, and is often a good ice breaker when meeting people. Besides, I learned a good habit of health-consciousness.
3. How To Give Back
My dad was a teacher and he often selflessly gave of his time, which included creating a scholarship fund for students like him who were good students but didn’t have the 4.0 GPA that some scholarships required. It was a great idea and one that I was involved in for several years. I admit, I have veered towards narcissism the last few years and haven’t contributed financially or physically to charitable causes as much as I would like, but I know what to do thanks to my dad.
2. About Brian Wilson And Mick Fleetwood
Okay, so my dad loved the Beach Boys and Fleetwood Mac. I will pause here while you purge your snarky comments and jokes about his musical preferences… . The reason why I loved this wasn’t so much about the music itself, it was about sharing the listening experience with my dad; harmonizing together on long drives in the car. Those songs are the soundtrack to my childhood years. And of course, I enjoyed the fact that all the singing and carrying on irritated my brother. (See number 7.)
1. To Never Give Up
When I was 12, I went cross-country skiing with my dad, wherein I spent the bulk of the day falling down and complaining. In spite of my sour pre-teen attitude, my dad encouraged me with one of his amazing pep talks and I managed to salvage what was left of the day and actually enjoyed myself. A decade later, I was reminded of that cold day in the snow when I received a letter from my dad. I had been anxious about graduating college and, in his chicken scratch scribbles, he had written me the mother of all pep talks. I keep this letter framed next to my bed as a reminder that I always have the will and I’m always strong enough to push through any obstacle:
“Remember when we went cross-country skiing? It was so important that when times got tough, you picked yourself up for the 20th time, told yourself ‘I am going to do it,' and had a good time too!”
That says it all.