When I was a kid, life was different. We didn’t have YouTube to watch How-To videos. We didn’t have things like Taskrabbit or Thumbtack or any of the hundreds of other apps that currently give us access to on-call handyman experts. If we wanted to do something, we would need to hop on our bikes and ride to the library and read guidebooks meant for adults or hope that our parents would have the skills, time, and patience to teach us what we needed to learn. We were fortunate. Our parents not only took the extra time but sacrificed days off and vacation time to make sure we all could be successful adults when we branched out into the world. Dad made it his mission for us to learn how to change the oil and tires. Under his direction, we built fences , forts, and swing-sets. Learning how to grill and fish were both rights of passage in my family. I’ll never forget how excited I was the day we learned how to make camping fires that emitted green and purple flames.
Times are different now. Our kids have instant access to pretty much anything at the simple click of a mouse or a tap on the phone screen. They can video chat with their friends in different countries, learn about new toys and games even before they hit the shelves, and fortunately, will never know the struggle of frantically rolling(cranking?) up the car window in a sudden downpour.
Teachable moments happen sudden and unexpectedly. One afternoon, I was working on replacing the pipes under the kitchen sink. My son had just woken up from his nap and came downstairs to figure out what was happening. He rounds the corner, takes 1 step into the kitchen and starts pleading to help me fix the pipes. He had just gotten his new tool-set and he didn’t want to miss any opportunity to use them. I was immediately brought back to the time my dad taught me how to do the exact same thing I was about to show my son. Filled with goosebumps and warm fuzzies, I asked him to go get his toolbox, and sit on his chair stool until I could free up some space for him to climb in the cabinet to help As you can see, sitting was not an option for Charlie. He did all that he could to get a closer look, just as I had done in my parent’s kitchen. We ended up working on the sink for close to two hours, which is equivalent to three millennia in a preschooler's head.
These moments spring up without any sort of warning. No amount of reading or Daddy boot-camps (yes, these exist and are awesome!) can prepare you for the feelings that you will experience as a dad. All we can do as parents is offer the time and patience to our kids as our parents did. You never know when the next moment will strike.
Do something different this father's day. Instead of the obligatory golf patterned necktie, or the coffee mug that lets everyone know who the best dad in the world is, take a moment to thank him for all those tireless days and nights that he spent helping you with your geometry homework, showing you how to hang a picture frame, how to tell when your New York strip steak is cooked to the perfect temperature, but most importantly, being your biggest cheerleader when you needed him the most.
Happy Father's Day to all dad's, step-dad's, grandpa's and great grandpa's. May your weekend be filled with laughter and appreciation, and tons of cool socks!