The wisdom of dads
Dads and daughters are an interesting pair. We daughters start off as “Daddy’s Little Girl” and steal their hearts, and before you know it we’re turning their hair gray. In a blink of an eye, those dads are walking us down the aisle and giving us away, putting all of their trust in you that the lessons that they taught you will sustain you throughout life.
My dad taught me many things. He gave me my love for nature and music. He taught me how to eat mushrooms and make a pot of soup the size of Texas. He showed me how to drive a four-wheeler, be a dead eye with a shot gun, and how to use tools up and down the workbench. For all of this, I am so grateful…and rather tough. He gave me the confidence to do things I never thought I could do, and the desire to succeed at whatever I try. (I think I inherited these things from him, which makes for very long games of Pinochle and Boggle.)
But like most dads, he has gifted me a few token phrases that have carried me through my life so far. A handful of simple words, used correctly, can be the philosophy of the masses. It is my pleasure to share a few of them with you, in honor of Father’s Day.
You can make it snow on Christmas. Every child dreams of a white Christmas, but some years it just didn’t happen. One year when I was very young, as he tucked me into bed I was complaining about the lack of snow. “You know, we can make it snow,” he said, and he explained how we needed to sit quietly and concentrate really, really hard. Without knowing it, he taught me how to pray, and the power of prayer. The next day, it snowed.
The moon is made of white dog poop. While other kids thought for sure it was made of cheese, my dad jokingly explained that it was made of dog poop that was left in the yard too long because some little child didn’t pick it up like she was supposed to. Left alone, the poop would turn white and float to the moon. And if too much poop floated to the moon, why, wouldn’t that be a terrible thing to throw off the rotation of such an important part of space? From this I learned the power of persuasion, and eventually, to not always believe what people tell you.
I’ll give you a lickin’ and make you jump like a chicken. I was a child of corporal punishment, and though people have a wide range of opinions of this topic, I was also a very well-behaved child. The mere thought of disappointing my dad enough that he would have to hurt me was unbearable, let alone the fact that he was going to hit me so hard that I would indeed “jump like a chicken.” Though I wasn’t savvy when it comes to chicken jumping, I thought it was just awful. But as I learned, if you’re going to do something, do it full-strength. Also, don’t do anything in life that would cause you to bounce like barnyard fowl.
Who has more fun than people? In times of life’s chaos, like when we got stranded far from home in the pouring rain on a moped ride, or when we accidentally found ourselves at the top of a too-advanced ski hill, these words would come flying out like the angel to make us laugh and press on. Conversely, these words also found themselves useful on planned adventures, like nearly killing ourselves backpacking through the forests of southern Ohio and holding a box of fireworks. He taught me that if you’re not having fun, it’s your own fault. Case closed.
Mostly, without even knowing it, he showed me that life is grand, white dog poop moon and all. And if you can’t see the pure joy in that, it’s your own fault and you should probably jump like a chicken, even on a snowy Christmas.
Happy Father’s Day to all of the great dads out there!