Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Father's Day: A Short History of Inherited Lunacy

In honor of Father's Day and my daughter graduating pre-K, I am reposting an article from last year's Out & About issue on, er-um...paternal inheritance!  Happy Father's Day!

Turning a certain age as a father, you begin to realize that many of the paternal clichés you grew up with are destined to become part of your life once again.   It’s different than the parental curse.  Naturally, that’s when your kids act just like you did, or worse.  No, this is when you slowly inherit all the traits you secretly snickered at your dad about behind his back as a kid.  It begins with not asking for directions in your 20’s.  In your 30’s, you plan Sundays in front of the TV with precisely the same snack spread as your pop, right down to the favorite stinky cheese and nostril-flaming mustard.  In your 40’s, you can nap on command.  No lie.  Until recently, I never understood how my uncle and grandfather could sleep through what can only be described as sheer mayhem at raucous family gatherings.  And, snoring like only a deep sleep can produce.  Formidable is the only word that comes to mind. 

But, what happens when the parental curse and the paternal curse merge?  I was having a rather unsuccessful morning preparing the little one for daycare when she told me, “N-O, spells NO.”  I said, “That’s MY line!”  Another back-atcha came when I grabbed her to cut some of the roughly 20 minutes it takes to get her into the car seat, and she turned just before I swooped my arms around her.  She said with all the sincerity of a doctor giving bad news, “Don’t even think about it.”  Four.  Years.  Old.

I am, and always have been, I suppose, the Master of Breakfast.  It’s the first memory I have of cooking.  Now it’s my gig, again.  And, good thing, too.  For my daughter, I usually have 7 or 8 viable choices in the morning, all of which can be knocked out in 5 minutes or less.  I was making bacon for her last month and asked, “What would you like with your bacon?”  She said, “Sausage.” 

Not all dad-isms, however, are offspring related.

For example, I confess a certain titillating feeling when I enter the hardware store with a list of only two things to buy, and then I eye up one of the liquor store-sized carts and begin planning an afternoon of ambitious projects as I catch the heady aroma of fertilizer and garden hose rubber.  And, then I remember I only came in for light bulbs and a bungee cord.    

Perhaps the most cliché of all is the myth of our innate penchant to barbecue big pieces of meat.  The steak is a lie.  Well, partially.  Yes, we can barbecue (and barbecue well, thankyouverymuch), but the idea of sending dear old dad out to the back yard for roughly three months of the year to cook was created by the charcoal and lighter fluid lobby headed by an all-female executive board. Stick with me.  They discovered that giving “the man of the house” an important task like cooking dinner and the freedom to do it outside in the warm sun, usually with a beer in hand and the game on the radio- well, let’s be frank: it leaves a rather peaceful and drama-free household for the female sisterhood to enjoy.  I believe in corporate America, they call this the “win-win”. 

So, what else is there to look forward to?  From what I’ve seen, there’s cutting the lawn in black socks and sandals.  Memorizing all the channels on cable.  Boasting proudly about your electric lawn and garden grooming devices.  I’ve not yet been stricken with the thermostat bug.  Though, I hear once you start, you can’t stop.   I’m okay with all of this.  It lends a certain air of lunacy and confusion to your standing in the family.  It might even, if you’re lucky, get you taken off some important (read: annoying) task, leaving you time, of course- to nap.  

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