Since the beginning of time, the male of the humanoid species have endeavored to achieve awesomeness. Early man created tools of hunting, war, and fixing broken toasters. They did this so they wouldn’t have to call on someone else to do what they had no business doing on their own.
Fiercely proud, even early man insisted on being the sole ‘go-to’ guy for his families needs. Tracking wild game never included pulling over to ask a stranger for directions. They’d rather die of starvation in a quarry than admit they lost the scent of the animal. No, even our ancient ancestors had a keen sense of stubbornness. It’s a wonder we ever made it this far!
Luckily, today’s Dad’s don’t often die in quarries looking for food for their families. We still won’t ask for directions, though. In fact, even with super high-tech satellite guidance systems, we’ll decide our route is better than the one on the Navigation system we payed hundreds of dollars for.
‘That stupid machine doesn’t know anything!’
Our hunting is usually limited to parking spots – another task that has it’s own weird science to it. My SUV has retractable side mirrors. I love this feature! Because of this sweet little bit of modern technology, I can shoe-horn my gas guzzler into spots reserved for mopeds. Opening the doors is a bit of a challenge, but hey – look how close we are to the mall entrance!
One thing today’s Dad’s share with our ancestors is the need to pass along life-skills to our kids. It’s this disposition that drives Dads to teach their offspring on how to survive. It’s a fundamental need, developed deep within ourselves as a pseudo immortality, ensuring the manly skills of our forefathers are passed along. Strangely enough, this need has a blow-back effect, in that while we try to pass along life-saving skills and advice, those very lessons usually involve tasks that could, in themselves, have fatal consequences.
Take swimming lessons for example. While few can argue about how learning to swim is a significant survival advantage, it also provides great health and recreational benefits. Where it gets dicey, is in how Dads help us to develop that skill. It would stand to reason that a parent would register their children for board certified lessons, in a supervised and well equipped swimming pool, that had been tested for cleanliness and life-saving equipment. It would stand to reason….except for Dads!
That could take years, and cost hundreds of dollars. Why? How did we learn to swim? Pushed off the dock in a semi-polluted pond with no life-saving equipment, ladder, or detailed dry lessons on how to kick your feet. It was sink or swim, mister! It built character, and possibly a paralyzing fear of H2O.
They were practical lessons. We didn’t learn about power tools by taking a class in safety, followed by simulations and ‘role-playing’. Dad would fire up the saw, hand us a piece of wood, and say ‘don’t cut off any fingers’. Instant carpenter. If you were successful, you had the run of the tool shed. If you weren’t, well, you were learning to write with the other hand…and it was your fault.
Dads don’t live as long as Moms, statistically speaking, so we have limited time to do our data-dump of life knowledge. Some things just need to be taught on the fly. We don’t know when our number will be up. Waiting for little Billy to decide if he wanted to learn a sport was a waste of time. It was ‘Here – catch!’.
There’s also some key differences in how Dads give advice from how Moms give the same advice. A Mom might say, ‘Don’t do anything that we wouldn’t be proud of’.
A Dad, giving the same sage advice, would make one small change to that suggestion; ‘Don’t get caught doing anything that we wouldn’t be proud of’.
See the difference? Mom’s advice is absolute – no wiggle room. Dads are more pragmatic than that. They know you’re gonna do dumb stuff. They just don’t want you to get caught doing it. If you do, they have to make an example out of you, and that means repeating a lesson they already taught. Dads HATE having to do things twice. Any time a Dad can cut a corner on something, the better life is.
That probably explains this:
Even fixing that toaster often had a unique and dangerous aspect to it. If you’ve ever seen footage of a brain operation, the surgeon often has the patient awake, so they can be sure they’re snipping the part of the cortex that is causing the problem, and not the one that controls breathing. Well, Dads tend to follow that same logic.
If the toaster is unplugged, how will you know if you’ve fixed it? Common sense. If it’s good enough for a brain surgeon, it’s good enough for Dad.
Dads have a way of getting things done without those pesky instructions. Sure, there’s the odd extra bolt left over, but the mental triumph over stupidly complicated directives more than makes up for the questionable safeness of said project. This is what Dads teach us. Sometimes you just have to throw away the script, wing it, and rely on your ancient instincts to guide you. Trust in your gut. Those thousands of years of evolutionary trial and error suggests that your gene pool is deeper than most, just by the fact that you’re alive and reading this.
It’s those shortcuts and bypasses that really are the fruit of living, aren’t they? How boring life would be if we didn’t get the crap scared out of us once in a while. Take the path less traveled – even if it’s less traveled because it leads to quicksand or some other potential catastrophe. These are where our great memories are formed.
We all should thank our dangerous, spontaneous, and sometimes insensitive Dads this Father’s Day. They keep the spark alive…sometimes with a knife in the toaster.