Today is my dad’s birthday, so I’ve got dad on my mind (Happy Birthday, Dad!).
I grew up with a great dad. I always knew he was a great dad.
When he had to work on Saturdays, sometimes he brought us with him. He set us free in the warehouse of Hartford Office Supply with a pocketful of quarters and directions to the vending machine (I distinctly remember a smaller version of myself on a loading dock one Saturday, lost beyond hope, asking a HOSCO employee to guide me back to the big cheese’s office). Dad would gather empty boxes, stuff the kids in them, and send us flying down the conveyor belt. If boxes make great toys for kids, imagine boxes stuffed with kids, combined with conveyor belts. Really. Memories to last a lifetime, and I say that with no jest whatsoever.
My dad also always, always, always did his best to attend any athletic pursuit Scooter or I participated in, and he always, always, always made sure we knew how important it was to him and how proud of us he was. That importance was often demonstrated by cheerful hollering from the sidelines, fatherly tips or guidance, and a bag of gummy bears. It also often came while my dad was dressed in a suit, having come to our games straight from the office.
We spent hours playing catch in the backyard every Spring when he got home from work and as the daylight faded. In the winter, he carted me to indoor batting cages, and we fed tokens to the machine while I wailed away and Dad critiqued, coached, encouraged.
In the summer when Mom packed the station wagon with the kids and ventured to Manchester, Dad would drive up every Friday after work and stay for the weekend. Those weekends were always packed with activities: Red Sox games, trips to Canobie Lake Park, long days at Singing Beach. He spent hours at the beach building us pools to play in, handing out italian ice money, burying feet in the sand, consoling kids after battles lost to waves.
As a kid, I never thought twice about these things. My dad was my dad; how he behaved must have been how all dads behaved. It’s only after getting older that I realized that my dad was a very unique dad, the cream of the crop. There is no dad rule book – what my dad chose to do with his time was his own choice to make. And he chose us; he chose his family; he chose making memories with me. And even more so, he delighted in those choices.
So now, three months into my little boy’s life, I look at the man beside me, and I realize more and more that my dad gave me Christopher. He gave me the role model to look up to that made me seek out those same characteristics in my husband, whoever he was to be. I look at the delight Chris derives from playing with his son (and the play isn’t even that interesting yet), and I think of my dad. I think of my childhood and that feeling that no matter what, my dad was there and would make our adventure a fun one.
I see how cycles repeat themselves. I see how children learn from their parents – and how those lessons shape the next generation of parents. And I am so thankful – so very, very thankful – that my dad’s teachings led me to Christopher which led me to James which led me to feeling blessed – so very, very blessed.
So my thoughts on dads?
They’re pretty great, and I have some of the greatest of the great in my world.
Happy Birthday to you, Daddio; you taught me a lot about this little thing we call life.