Have you ever heard a dad joke that didn’t at least make you smile? Seriously. I know they’re all sort of silly, but isn’t that what we love about them? Do they make us laugh because they’re so funny, or does it have to do with the goofy amused look on our dad’s face when he tells it? Why do dads resort to dad jokes? Are they all aspiring comedians, or do they have a deep down need to see their family smile and laugh? Whatever the reason, they just work. They are just a little thing that make us slow down, smile, and enjoy the moment.
If you have ever asked my dad if he got a hair cut, then I know for a fact he answered you with, “no, I got them all cut.” This little dad joke is one of my favorite childhood memories. Seems like a weird one, but it made me roll my eyes and laugh every single time.
My favorite memories with my dad are more than I can count. I loved when he would randomly honk and swerve on the highway and ask me if I saw that cricket run out in the road. “I barely missed him!” he would say. I remember him very loudly thumping out a beat with spoon and a can of coffee while singing opera style on Saturday mornings to wake us up. He’s not much of a singer, but sometimes as an adult I miss hearing that. I remember fitting in the little triangle behind his knees when he napped on the couch. I also remember him carrying me to bed like a “sack of taders” at bedtime. I love that he would drop what he was doing and kill the tiniest spider, squishing it with his finger so that I could go on with my day. “That’s it,” he would say, “that tiny little thing?” I don’t know if you noticed but all of these favorite childhood memories with my dad are all little things. Nothing big and grand. Just the simple little things he did all the time.
The big things are important too, but I think those have more to do with appreciation. I appreciate that he worked so hard to provide for us. I am thankful for the kind of heart he has. At the age of eighteen while he was working at Sears, he saw one of his coworkers as a beautiful girl instead of a handicapped woman. She became his wife and my mom. I appreciate that for almost forty years of marriage he has never complained once about helping her out with things that her disability make difficult. Things most men of his generation have never done, like vacuuming the floor or making her plate at dinner. I appreciate that he set the example of a caring father and husband for me and my brother. I appreciate that he commuted all those hours to and from work in a crappy Toyota with a hardly functioning air conditioner for years, but we never went a single year without a family vacation.
Without the things I appreciate most about my dad and the things that often kept him busy and out of the house, I wouldn’t have the little things. The little memories. The things I remember most.
So to my husband and the daddy of our household, the answer to the question you asked me just last week is most certainly no. No, the kids will not only remember that you worked so much. It will be a thing they appreciate, but not the only thing they remember.
They will remember riding on your shoulders and going on bike rides. They will remember seeing how many dishes you can stack without them falling after dinner. They will remember playing egg toss with you in the kitchen and inevitably cleaning up egg yolks off the floor. They will remember playing card games and board games. They will remember you connecting straws together to see if they can stand on the table and drink water from a glass that’s on the floor. They will remember how you always tried to talk them into doing the most impossible things. They will remember never being able to beat you in an arm wrestle. They will remember your attempt at doing the floss and your never-ending string of dad jokes. The one about the bee will be their favorite.
It will be when they’re grown that they realize all their favorite memories of their dad and his big mischievous smile happened at the end of a 16 hour work day. It will be when they’re grown that they realize you thanked me for a good dinner and did the dishes at the end of your long work day. It will be when they’re grown that they realize you worked after dinner and at bed time just to make sure you were present at their band performances and taekwondo practice. When they are grown they will realize that you carved two hours out of a hard day to help them pick out a fish tank for their room on their birthday.
The boys will appreciate all of these things and they will be better fathers and husbands because of you. But when they tell their kids and wife stories about their dad, it will be the little things you do everyday they remember most.
To my husband and my dad on Father’s Day: Thank you for taking on the roll of provider and protector. Thank you for taking care of us. Thank you for being present. Thank you for the comic relief and knowing just when to be a kid. Thank you for killing the spiders and checking the house for bad guys. Thank you for fixing what’s broken and doing the heavy lifting. Thank you for running through the rain to pull the car up. Y’all are our heroes. We love you!