Real dads (and moms) know firsthand that being a parent is a difficult, but rewarding job. Running a corporation or operating on a human brain, for example, pale in comparison to being fully responsible for the outcome of a human being during the first 18 years of his or her life, and in some cases maybe more. Those of you without offspring, laugh if you will; it’s something only people who’ve raised children responsibly can understand.
While it’s true that moms usually get their due respect – and their share of the blame at the psychiatrist’s office in later years – dads can be sometimes overlooked in the child rearing process. We’re not the “Wait until your father gets home” generation anymore, but the role of a dad is every bit as important. Dads are the wise owls, ready to bestow their wisdom and advice about navigating through the harsh reality of life, while moms coddle and coo, arms open wide with compassion, forgiveness and love. All of this is stereotypical, of course; growing up in my home the roles were often interchangeable.
I can’t pinpoint the wisest advice I ever got from my dad, but I remember the phrases he used most often in my childhood, and I catch myself sounding like him whenever I say something like “this simply mystifies me” or “this is what you call your boring game.” I refer to them as dadisms. His favorite and most widely used dadism had to do with keeping one’s nose clean. “Are we going to the shore this summer, dad?” “If you keep your nose clean.” “Can I go to the movies later?” “If you keep your nose clean.” You get the picture. The origins of the phrase, which date back to 1887, obviously mean to keep out of any kind of trouble. To a kid like me who took things literally, all sorts of images would run through my head when he said those words, from scrubbing my nose with a toothbrush (I thought it would fit nicely) and soap, to thinking about how I could turn my head upside down when I took a shower. I survived my childhood with a relatively clean nose thanks to that particular dadism.
Happy Father’s Day, dad, and to every other man who has the honor to be called dad.