Why my dad is the greatest in the world — part 3
Last month we celebrated Father’s Day. On that special day, I wrote part 1 of a tribute to my dad. Last week I added part 2. We call him Opa. He truly is the man, the myth, the legend. In this third post, I will finish by explaining why my dad is the greatest in the world.
Being the father of a young man is challenging
Raising boys is tough. I know because I am doing it now.
Both of you are fine young men. But, let’s face it there have been challenges.
Why is it so difficult to raise boys? There are many reasons, but the bottom line is that boys tend to do stupid stuff. More so than young ladies. Men take terrible chances when we are young.
I know this is true because I did, and so did all of my friends.
Like most young men I was not the most compliant kid. I had to be me, and some days that was quite a handful.
How is a father to handle all the stupid stuff his son does? Two possible approaches. The first is to be super strict — a disciplinarian. The second is to be more relaxed and not respond to everything — a diplomatic approach.
My dad chose to use the latter approach when it came to me and my brother.
The second D in daD stands for diplomatic
My daD is tough. He has the resume to prove it. Over 20 years in the Army as an Airborne Ranger Special Forces officer. Multiple combat tours in Vietnam. Too many military awards and decorations to list here.
If that is not enough — his favorite actor is John Wayne, and he enjoys smoking cigars on a regular basis. He is no pushover.
Given his age, it is hard to see Opa’s toughness nowadays. Trust me — you did not want to mess with him. I respected my daD. I really did.
But, like all young men, I tested his patience on a somewhat regular basis. He chose to deal with my shenanigans in a diplomatic manner. He would respond but showed restraint on a regular basis.
He was tough but fair, and patient. Thank God he was patient with me. I am going to provide a few examples to prove my point.
Be always humble, gentle, and patient. Show your love by being tolerant with one another. (Ephesians 4:2)
My daD did not lose his mind when I crashed his car
Like most young men I was not a good driver. Speed was not my issue, paying attention was. I drove the family’s extra car — an orange Toyota Corolla liftback when I was in high school. It was an ugly car, but fun to drive.
One night on the way home from a friends house I crashed the Corolla. It was a bad accident, and it should not have happened.
I won’t go into details other than to say I was not paying attention and hit a parked car on the side of a road in our neighborhood. In fact, my daD walked to the scene of the accident — it was that close to our house.
I was fine, but the car was totaled. DaD could tell the accident was my fault but chose not to chew me out. Instead, he handled the situation diplomatically.
I knew that I had screwed up and did not need a lecture about being responsible. I already knew it.
DaD decided not to freak out. Rather he let me learn from my own mistake. I also learned a lot from him that day about being patient.
My daD did not fret over temporary bad decisions
I have made many bad decisions over the years. We all do.
My daD did not fret over my temporary bad decisions.
One particularly poor decision was to get my ear pierced. I was an exchange student in Germany one summer. While visiting Berlin, a buddy and I decided it would be cool to get our ears pierced…just the left one.
Guys with earrings nowadays is not a big deal. This was back in the 1980s. Not many men had an earring, so it was quite a surprise to my parents when I returned home from the trip.
My mom liked it. My daD did not really say anything. I doubt he thought it was a good idea, but he chose to let it ride.
I received a lot of flack from adults about the earring, especially from men. This negative attention actually motivated me to keep the earring, so I did until leaving for college.
My daD’s approach was not to fret about the earring. It was temporary. He knew I would outgrow it one day. I am really glad he did not chastise me. It would have made me want to rebel even more.
My daD held his tongue when I dyed my hair like Billy Idol
Speaking of rebels — one my favorites was Billy Idol. I liked his music (still do), and I admired his attitude. Billy was one of the original London punk rockers. His music became really popular while I was in high school.
During my senior year in high school, I was selected with a bunch of other guys to participate in the Mr. Lancer contest. It was a light-hearted competition to determine which guy was the cream of the crop.
The contest was supposed to be fun. None of us guys took it seriously. For the event, each contestant had to come up with a clever moniker that started with Mr. I decided to enter the contest as “Mr. Billy-be-my-Idol”.
To reinforce the idea I decided to dye my hair blonde. It was a stupid thing to do but seemed like a great idea at the time.
My mom thought it was funny and helped me with the dye. My daD said nothing. To say it looked awful would be an understatement.
My daD acted cool while others shook their head
When I first took the stage most of the audience thought I was wearing a blonde wig. As the event progressed it became apparent to all that I had actually dyed my hair blonde.
What idiot does that? I did.
My father sat in the audience and did not say anything as other parents ribbed him about his stupid son. Needless to say, I did not win the contest. Not a big deal. I was pleased just to be invited. I had fun doing it but paid the price.
Afterward, my girlfriend at the time let me know that I had embarrassed her and that we were done. I was surprised but took the news in stride.
Next, my parents talked to me. They were proud of me for being selected and thought the blonde hair stunt was funny. They said don’t worry about the people who did not get it.
I let them know that I was suddenly single. My mom laughed about it. My daD said I was better off. No one should really care about the color of your hair.
We went home. I dyed my hair back to normal the next day and life went on as usual. I learned an important lesson from my daD about keeping your cool that day. No big deal, just shake it off.
My daD defended me every step of the way
Why am I telling you these stories now? To let you know that my daD defended me every step of the way when I was young.
He could have punished me for crashing his car, but he didn’t.
He could have chewed my ass when I got an earring, but he didn’t.
He could have shunned me when I dyed my hair blonde, but he didn’t.
My daD decided to stick with me through thick and thin.
I did a lot of stupid stuff in my youth. We all do, especially young men.
You are going to do stupid stuff. I know because both of you already have.
I hope that I respond like my daD did when I was your age — with diplomacy. He taught me that we all make mistakes and need some slack. I am glad he let me be myself. I am trying to do the same for you.
I promise that I will be as diplomatic as possible.
I am not giving you a license to do anything you want to. My dad has standards, and so do I. I will share those in next week’s post.
I write a blog for my sons called Doug Keating Letter to Sons. I am sharing content from my blog here. I hope you enjoyed it. All feedback is welcome. Thanks for reading it.
Originally published at www.lettertosons.com on July 15, 2018.