Irresponsible @#$% I Learned From Dad

Drive safely. Be careful what you say. Always be fair. Follow the rules.

Unless, you’re my dad.

Dad was never a drinker, was unfailingly faithful to my mother, worked hard, prayed hard, and did most of the work on our cars. Yet, he was, no Ward Cleaver who often used his special brand of mischief to teach us life lessons.

Drive Recklessly

My father raced motorcycles in his youth, and he never lets us forget it.

When it snowed, we would take the truck to an empty parking lot and do donuts. When we went over hills, he sped up so "we could get air."

My brother and I learned to drive in his '66 Mustang–by shifting gears at slightly higher speeds than necessary on access roads. I'm still afraid to ask Dad if he knew he was driving over the speed limit.

Disobey Rules

Ever been on an amusement park ride, and the chipper faded out so a disembodied voice could announce, "please keep your hands in the vehicle at all times"? If so, you were likely riding somewhere in the vicinity of my family.

"Keep off…" "Don’t touch…" "Do not enter…" Mere suggestions!

We constantly found ourselves looking over our shoulder, with jittery fears of being caught by a museum docent when dad had to crawl up to that historic plane cockpit "just to take a look" or pulling dad’s mangled body from a ditch because he wouldn’t remain seated.

He knew the importance of rules, as well as what rules he deemed important, having served in the military and in education. He knew when to stay in line, but also when to happily jump the turnstile.

One night, we were leaving a parking lot with one way in and one way out. My dad got in his car and headed straight out the entrance past the "Wrong Way" signs.

"Wow he didn't even see those signs," I said.

"Oh, he saw them," my husband answered.

Fairness, Schmareness

There are no "Participation" ribbons in Dad's world.

He felt everyone should be allowed in the game, but no one needs a head start. That’s competition. Everyone deserves the right to try, but they also deserve to fail if they don’t have the skills, physical abilities, or practice. No “lowering standards” if someone couldn’t keep up.

However, my father encouraged and cheered on everyone on at school games where he served as superintendent. He told everyone they did a “great job.” This behavior didn’t go unnoticed by my brother, who specialized in adaptive physical education.

Embarrass Your Kids.

My ex-Air Force, racing dad had another side to him. He was in theatre in college, performed in Shakespeare productions, and modeled for rifle catalogs. Thus, he wasn’t embarrassed about anything.

He wasn't shy about making inappropriate comments to others or acting silly in public, and he felt the most uptight, "too cool for school" teenage years made for easy prey.

He'd stop and dance when music he liked came over an intercom, and, by far the worst offense, made sure any annoying waiter-infested singing presentation was enacted during special occasions.

To this day, I have an irrational fear of going out to eat on my birthday.

More than anything, however, he taught us:

Love your spouse. Love your children. Love your life. Nothing will ever be perfect. Chase "perfection," and you miss the wonderful things around you, flaws and all.

When we are all so scared of being politically incorrect, I offer my heartfelt love for that entire generation of old-school and "out dated," Manly Men. I thank him for teaching me how to be a strong woman.

Yes, my dad might be a relic of "less enlightened time," but like some of these relics, he was, and still is, priceless.

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