Parenting and Other Dangerous Activities
Father’s Day.* Time to buy a card and (hopefully) (rarely in my case) get it sent off in time. Picking a card is like a putting stroke: everybody does it different. Some come in and have to read ALL the cards, rejecting one because it said “and” instead of “or,” or maybe the font wasn’t “just right.” They take an hour to pick the perfect card. Others look at a few and grab the first one that hits them. You might be somewhere in between those two, or maybe you make your own using software designed to help you create a card.
I have two rules for holiday card picking: the card has to be funny, and if I’ve taken more than 10 minutes to pick one out something is wrong. I can easily skip the ones that are, shall we say, less than family friendly, and the ones that are just stupid, and the one that are mushy. The mushy ones are the worst. “I can’t live without you,” “You’re my everything, my world.” Gag. Actually, I want one that’s funny but that’s also true. I want to make ‘em laugh, but I also want them to know they truly are loved and appreciated.
I always tell my wife that my job is to make her laugh. The way I figure it, I’m not keeping her with my looks, so I need her to think I’m funny. The money doesn’t hurt, but she can replace that. It’s my ‘unique’ sense of humor that convinces her to hang around. A quick example: one night we went to one of those restaurants that has buckets of peanuts on the table. I was eating peanuts and quietly dropping some in her purse. The next day she found them and we had a good laugh. Ever since then, we have both been hiding peanuts in funny places for the other one to find. When I go on a trip, I quite often find a peanut in...some of my garments. Right now there’s one in her makeup drawer, just waiting to be discovered and deliver a smile. Finding a peanut means hearing someone say “I love you.”
So here’s the card I picked for my Dad this Father’s Day: “A Dad is someone who can kick and save your butt in the same day. (inside) Thanks for both. Happy Father’s Day.
Like the man said, I don’t care who you are; that’s just funny. It also made me cry (one of my faults: I cry way, way too easily). I can’t tell you how many times Dad has kicked my butt. I’ve probably chosen to block out most of those memories, actually. I also can’t tell you how many times he has saved my butt.
One of those days when I got both was in high school. We could leave school for lunch, so a bunch of guys piled in my car and we went for burgers. On the way back the guys were having fun throwing the paper cups out the window (what can I say, it was the 70s) trying to get them to land standing up and slide across the hot pavement toward the curb. Thrown just right, they would hit the curb and ice would explode out of the top of the cup. [Please DO NOT litter!] A driver behind me thought we were throwing the cups at him, and he wrote down my license number and called the cops. The chief of police was a member of the church where my dad was pastor, so when “Marvin Nobles” popped up as a wanted man he did the right thing and called him. Well, to make a long story short, my butt was seriously kicked but I did not go to jail. And the cup throwing game was never, ever repeated.
So, like the card says: Thanks, Dad. You and Mom taught me right from wrong. You taught me to give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. You gave me a love for learning. You taught me to love my family and my neighbor. You taught me who my neighbor is. You showed me how to love my wife. And more than anything, you showed me that a life of service to a loving God is the best way to live.
You showed me that while parenting can be messy and dangerous, it’s a great game. You won when it was your turn at bat, and I sure hope I did the same. My son and his wife will have a baby in August, so it’s the next generations’ time now—if they are half as good at parenting as you were, well they’re going to be just fine.
Thanks, David, for your thoughts on "Fathers' Day." Hope it gets read by lots of people, because it contains some really good thoughts.
Love you, Son.