A word about dads and the jobs that only they can tackle

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by Mike Brock

Dads.

In a world where gender equality and distribution of expected norms are—rightfully—becoming a reality, there are still some very important and serious areas of life that only a dad can tackle.

For instance, it is absolutely a father’s job to put safety fifth once in a while.

A skinned knee is an opportunity for a scar, and a scar means a story, and if you were to look after that skinned knee a little too well, then you wouldn’t have any stories to tell.  Right?

It is also a dad’s job to tell his kids that the greasy, little crispy bits of skin are the best parts of the chicken, or the turkey.  Most dads are deft enough to know that the skin is certainly not the best part of an avocado.  Not all dads, but most dads.  The most likely time for this lesson on cuisine to be shared is during Thanksgiving, or Christmas carving, because the message is usually more clearly delivered before the tryptophan hits.

Besides dietary direction, humour is a very important part of being a good dad.  Dad jokes get a bad rap, but that’s kind of the point.  A good dad can take the hit, the groan, the pure and utter disdain.  It’s part of a dad’s DNA to show imperfection and failure and still be all right with it.  It is not a coincidence that “dad jokes” rhymes perfectly with “bad jokes”.  And, more importantly, the first answer to the whine “Dad, I’m hungry.” should always be “Hi Hungry, I’m dad”.  The second answer should be, “Have you tried this dirty, greasy, turkey skin?”

 Fitness.  Some dads take it very seriously, and that’s fantastic.  But it is important to note that “Dad Bods” are also a thing now.  And, while the acceptance of beer bellies, spare tires, love handles – none of which can be properly contained by an Old Navy t-shirt – may fly in the face of certain “health” considerations, Dad Bods are here to stay.  The right way to do it is to make sure that you balance the pride in your girth with the depth of your mythological tales of former athletic heroics.  That way, your child will grow up pursuing fitness with the goal of one day – when they’re old enough – getting a “dad bod” of their own.  Aspirational child rearing.

BIKE CHAINS.  The average dad knows how to do everything possible with a bike chain.  Like, squirt some oil on them.  And, you can put them back on.  Yup, the average dad knows how to do just about anything with a bike chain.  Oil, and putting them back on. Pretty much all you can do with a bike chain, right?

How many dads have offered to coach their kids’ team in a sport they never played?  It’s kind of a right of passage.  And, no one needs to know for a few decades, until when your kid comes back from university and sees an old team picture and asks. “Why the heck did you coach our tennis team? I’ve never even see you hold a racquet?”

Dads can burn skin-on, bone-in chicken better than anyone.  And they do it with a straight face.  As if that is exactly how it’s supposed to be done.  Like you’re 4 years old making S’mores and you see how many times you can light your marshmallow on fire.  Dads can burn chicken skin on a BBQ like nobody else.

Speaking of marshmallows, and fire… bonfires are great.  Everyone knows that.  Grab some marshmallows.  Lots of bug spray.  Maybe a guitar.   Good times.   But UNNECESSARY bonfires?  Nothing beats an unnecessary bonfire.  “Honey, what are you doing this afternoon?”  “Well, there’s a bunch of brush we could certainly burn.”  If you’re a dad – especially if you’re a dad named Uncle Andy – well then, unnecessary bonfires are a very dad way to spend time.  And your kids, with or without eyebrows, will remember those fires fondly.

Now, Moms may be pretty darn good at planning vacations.  However, if you want to plan a road trip centered around interesting gas station stops and Top 100 Classic Rock Song Countdowns, then Dads are the dudes to pull that off.  To be honest, they rarely end up where they should, and there are rarely any real reasons for a dad road trip, but you’ll remember them, even if you and your siblings hated every kilometer of Foreigner, Trooper and Styx.  The perfect dad road trip will end with the whole family sitting in the car in the driveway listening to Stairway to Heaven.

There are signs on every pool deck in every corner of the world, saying “NO RUNNING ON POOL DECK!!”  Dads know, though, that a pool deck is one of the greatest places in the world to run.  Pool decks were made for running.  And horseplay?  Don’t get a dad started on horseplay.  The signs should really say, “NO HORSEPLAY UNLESS YOU INCLUDE YOUR DAD!!!”  Facts are facts.  Again, great time for safety fifth.

Being a dad is the greatest privilege I have ever had.  Being a dad is life itself.  It teaches me something every day.  My kids inspire me, make me laugh, make me better.  Make me proud.  Despite my goofiness in the paragraphs above, it’s a really serious and sometimes – especially the last few years – really hard thing. And I would never trade it for anything.  As we mark Father’s Day this week, I hope everyone is able to enjoy your kids, your father, your family as much as possible.  Whether they are near or far, or here, or gone.  At the very least, have a laugh. 

PS – I love you Holden and Bodhi.