According to American retailers, Dads don’t do much but play with power tools, do yard work, golf,and wear socks.
If I believe the magazine and newspaper stories I’ve read this past week, dads don’t know how to relate to the children they brought into this world:
“How to Bond on Daddy’s Day!” (You have to be taught?)
“What Kids Need From Fathers Now.” (A man with a backbone.)
After tossing the Sunday ads into the recycling bin, I went outside to wage my latest war on stray Bermuda grass. While mixing toxic chemicals it occurred to me — we Rineharts live quite a different life from the one portrayed in the typical Father’s Day advertisements. When I married Scott, my dowry consisted not of a cedar trunk containing family linens and grandma’s china, but the trunk of an old Monte Carlo containing a socket wrench set and tool box.
My husband came into the marriage with a sleek, shiny car and a professional grade mastery of ironing, but lack of experience in the Mr. Fix It department. In his childhood home, repairmen were called when anything broke or needing replacing. In my childhood home, a broken appliance or light fixture in need of rewiring was an occasion for daddy-daughter bonding. Often all four of us kids were called down to the basement for our latest shop lesson. “Red to red, black to black…who can show me the ground wire?”
The combination of newlywed low funds and fear of looking inept in front of his wife and father in law was potent: Scott learned by force to fix and replace just about anything.
Over the past 23 years, he’s fixed water heaters, dishwashers, wallboard, ceiling fans, phone lines and sprinkler systems. But my favorite skills of his were, and are, changing diapers, mixing formula by the blender-full, middle of the night feedings, sending me away on girls only weekends, reading Stop That Ball! eighteen times in a row, and yes, ironing.
Those “skills” made him a great dad in my eyes, as did his character traits of integrity, honesty, sensibility, stability, affection and thoughtfulness. He taught our children much when he sent them to find the needle nose pliers or flip a fuse, more so when he was simply there for them… at home, school, in the middle of the night, on the phone, with each sandwich he packed in their school lunches and with every personal luxury he sacrificed to give his children a warm home, good education and time — simply being a great dad.
Now he just needs to teach them to iron.
Happy Father’s Day!