Lessons From Dad

“Don’t smoke cigarettes, don’t smoke marijuana, and don’t drink alcohol till you are 21.”
That was the phrase my dad threw at me almost every day of middle school and high school. He told the people in our carpool, my friends who came over, and eventually my boyfriends as well. My mom insisted he said those things because he did them all when he was my age. I insist that he brainwashed me brilliantly by seeming to make something serious into a joke.

Fathers come in all shapes and sizes, but I have noticed a trend among them as well—they teach you more through actions than words. Many dads I know don’t give you specific life advice unless asked, nor will they lay out their lessons in plain English. They teach you through experience and example, whether they mean to or not.

Most of my friends knew him as the funny dad. He has some go-to jokes, like telling our 30 lb. furball dog to “attack!” and “sic ‘em!” or saying “I’m leaving now, if there is an emergency call 411.”

In this way, I learned to not take life too seriously. I also learned how to make excellent puns.

My dad isn’t the type to get overly emotional or expressive about telling you his feelings, but I always knew that he loved me and was proud of me. How? Because of his wardrobe. He owns a baseball cap and t-shirt for every school my brother and I have been to, and he wears them constantly, especially when we would go out somewhere public. I would also hear from his clients or friends about how my dad would tell them stories about his children and the things they were doing that made him proud. He embarrassed me many times growing up, but it was an embarrassing form of love that I always secretly appreciated.

Dad - thanks for teaching me how to be goofy and awkward and smart and fun all at once. And thanks for always taking me to Disneyland.

Dad – thanks for teaching me how to be goofy and awkward and smart and fun all at once. And thanks for always taking me to Disneyland.

There is also a deeper side to my dad that he does not show to the world, and I noticed it only through years of observation.

He has an amazing ability to do complicated math problems in his head. Before a GPS could tell you your estimated arrival time, my dad could multiply the mileage and speed of travel to estimate time and also tell you how often the tank will need to be filled up. Sure, he is an accountant for a living, but math is more than second nature to him.

Last year while cleaning out a room in my parent’s house, I found his sash of patches from boy scouts. Turns out, my dad was an Eagle Scout! In his words: “My father told me I couldn’t get my driver’s license till I became an Eagle Scout. Most people accomplish that by age 17, I did it by 16.” He nonchalantly dismissed the achievement and said I could throw out the badge, but of course I didn’t.

My dad is also what I would call an undercover introvert. He needs large amounts of alone time and dreads large social gatherings, but if put in that situation he transforms into an affable, entertaining people-person. It isn’t false or artificial, but rather a skill of pushing beyond one’s comfort zone for the benefit of relationships. I definitely picked up this skill, which is why many people I know insist that I’m extroverted even though I’m a die-hard introvert. Like father like daughter.

Most of all, my dad has demonstrated what perseverance looks like. He might not admit it himself, but I saw it weekly growing up when he took out the recyclables and trash, maintained the pool in our backyard, and took care of the day-to-day elements no one else wants to do. (Of course, my mom deserves a lot of credit in these things too.)

There have been a lot of moments over the years where I thought the emotional stress of personal issues or family struggles would break his perseverance. I marveled at his ability to soldier on, keeping a smile on his face. I picked up that ability to smile from him too, without ever realizing it.

My dad never sat me down to teach me how to tell a good joke, how to make complicated math problems easy, how to be social even when you are an introvert, or how to smile and persevere. I learned these things simply because of the way he lived and the example he set.

It is a good reminder for us all, to consider what we teach those around us by the way we live. But for fathers especially, your silent leadership is noticed more than you realize.  

Fatherhood, and masculinity in general, does not depend on one’s ability to grill or throw a football or coach a soccer team. My dad did all of those things, but they aren’t what make him a good dad or a good man. Courage, strength, and love to provide for us in every way—those are what count.

To all the dads out there, thank you for all that you do. To the men who have been a father figure to someone else, thank you. To the men who stand up for others and provide care or support for those they love, thank you. No one is perfect, but you teach us valuable lessons in your everyday actions. Take the time to acknowledge these men in your life, not just today but every chance you get.

What did your dad teach you?

Where You Lead

This upcoming Saturday I will be going to one of my favorite places on earth. I will tell you all about it on Saturday, but until then I thought I would lead up to it by making every post until then about one of my favorite things.

Today’s favorite thing: Gilmore Girls.

I know this is a stereotype for many girls, and I usually avoid trends, but there is a reason people love this show. Besides the witty writing,  brilliant pop culture references, and natural humor from the small-town setting—Gilmore Girls fulfilled the ideal potential of a television show to be relatable, instructional, and a relief from the world.

We Can All Be Either Rory or Lorelai

Television is essentially writing with a video element. You have fiction, nonfiction, and every genre in between. The best writing contains characters that are relatable in one aspect or another. Those characters also have to experience narratives that are universal to most people.

Both Rory and Lorelai represent a number of personality traits that everyone can relate to. For some it is Rory’s innocence and idealism, and the narrative of her losing those things to regain them in a new way. For others it is Lorelai’s stubbornness and dramatic flair, which highlight her pursuit of independence and the realization of her need for those around her.

Th magic power of fiction is watching someone else respond just like you have or would, and then knowing that you need to learn the same lessons. You walk away baffled and encouraged, because if Rory can go back to Yale after dropping out and Lorelai can learn to forgive Luke, you can be just as courageous and love just as deeply as they did.

And if you can’t be one of those two, you can always relate to Luke:
“I have no patience for jam hands!”

It Provides Both Practical and Worthless Information
 

“If you’re going to throw your life away, he better have a motorcycle!” – Lorelai
 

“For every good woman, there’s a dirty little wolf ready to lead her astray” – Babette
 

“I’m attracted to pie, it doesn’t mean I feel the need to date pie.” – Lorelai (please someone incorporate this into the sermon about hunger and the body, see 1 Corinthians 12-13)

“The last supper cannot be funky!” – Taylor Doose
 
“The plural of coul-de-sac is couls-de-sac” – Rory

“The difference between cows and humans is hay.” – Kirk
 

“Only prositutes have two glasses of wine with lunch.” – Richard Gilmore
“If the entire population of China walked by, the line would never end because of the rate of population increase” – Lorelai
 

You can decide which is which.

You Can Always Escape to Stars Hollow and Ones You Love
 

Although too much television is definitely dangerous, occasionally you need to escape from the world around you. I’m not saying become a hermit and pretend these people are your real friends. But you can hide out there for awhile, and the best shows will remind you why you need to get back out there.

Perhaps you have a strained relationship with your parents—Lorelai can help you with that. Maybe you don’t know what to do with your life and want to run home instead of finishing your finals—Rory can help you with that. Or maybe it feels like everyone around you should be put in a mental institution—Luke can help you with that.

In the end, it is the people who will be there when you call their names, and who will follow where you lead, that are the most important. And if watching the show doesn’t remind you of that, at least getting the theme song stuck in your head will.


Note: the inspiration for this post came after a GLORIOUS reunion of the Gilmore Girls cast happened over the weekend. I mean just look at this photo of all of them!

Here are the best highlights:
  • Amy Sherman Palladino (the show’s creator), Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, and Kelly Bishop all discussing the show for 45 minutes (Source: www.ew.com)
  • Hepp Alien (Zach, Lane, and Brian’s band) performing the Gilmore Girls theme song live (Source: Buzzfeed)
  • Almost every actor (this was literally a giant reunion) saying where they think his/her character would be now (Source: Buzzfeed)
  • And most importantly, Jess, Logan, and Dean all agreed that Rory’s best boyfriend was Jess (Source: Huffington Post)

Do you have a favorite tv show?

Why is it your favorite?