Dad: (n) informal for father.
It’s really two stories.
There was the story that should have happened and then, the tale that truly unfolded.
It is impossible for me to be an unbeliever. I don’t think I’m gullible, but I have seen enough surprising things come to fruition that I can no longer muster the doubt of Brother Thomas.
For you see, I should never have been a dad.
Don’t misinterpret the statement. I don’t want you to think that I despised the position or even that I wish it had happened differently.
But I also want you to realize that each time I became a dad, there was no planning, no bank account prepared and often not even a correct determination on the time of the blessed arrival.
I shall not get into all of those stories with this one essay.
Suffice it to say, I was a singer, a songwriter, a piano player, a vagabond—and I was a brat about never wanting to work for anyone else. As you can see right there, I perhaps should be eliminated for consideration for “father of the year.”
So I did it all with my children.
While I was teaching them to be better humans, they were teaching me how to be a good dad.
That’s the way it should be.
As long as you’re willing to look like an ass, identify it quickly and then change your mind, your kids will love you to death.
I drug my kids all over the country.
I had them playing instruments on stage in front of audiences.
I home-schooled some of them.
I lost one child along the way to a hit-and-run car accident.
And somehow or another, all the others arrived at adulthood, found magnificent partners, and are living full-blown, solvent, intelligent and spirited lives.
I will take credit for the fact that I was there, remained, repented and transformed.
But still—someone sprinkled something onto the mess, to turn it into a passable casserole.
What does it mean to be a dad?
- Be prepared to be watched twenty-four hours a day.
- Be prepared to be wrong—and admit it.
- Be prepared to laugh at your children when they act like you’re killing them because of a discipline you must levy.
- Have a life of your own, so they can see what you think is important.
- Encourage their mother in front of them.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously.
- Take them—your children—very seriously.
- When it’s obvious to them that you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t pretend you have a secret plan.
- Don’t try to be a best friend to their best friends.
- Try as hard as you can to never embarrass them.
Even though I was not a natural, I decided to naturally learn from the experience instead of giving up on it.
Now, my sons are dads.
My grandchildren call them that.
And I sit back in my resolute journey and watch my sons learn how to become “Dad.”