Dad: The Man, the Myth, the Legend

Dads everywhere have long received a bum rap when it comes to their parenting abilities. If past movies or TV shows are any indication, a dad usually falls into one of two categories: a flustered and clueless idiot, not even capable of changing a diaper without tongs, duct tape, and a gas mask or a cold and distant larger-than-life man who works all day, only to come home and hide behind the newspaper with a pack of smokes.

Of course, these are myths, at least most of the time.  Dads are worthy of our highest praise and respect (and some harmless teasing, if the situation calls for it).  My kids’ dad was once honored to be named “World’s Greatest Dad”. A coffee mug can’t be wrong.  He didn’t get this title for nothing.


He has no sense of danger

I was told Steve screamed the entire way down as well.

When my son was five years old and could barely reach the height limit to ride the Log Flume ride at Funtown by himself (even on his tip toes), my husband thought it was a bright idea to send my sweet dimpled boy (and his imaginary friend, Steve) on the log-shaped Death Trap anyway, conveniently when my back was turned. For the next three and a half terrifying minutes, I watched my son gripping the handrails, grinning from ear to ear, yelling at Steve to “hold on!” As he slowly ascended Mt.Everest, I closed my eyes and prayed that he wouldn’t spontaneously jump out at the top. My son and Steve safely made it down after all, completely drenched and laughing.  I shot my husband The Look, ran over and crushed my son with hugs, thinking, Thank God he’s okay! I walked away with a few new wrinkles and, I admit, a pretty cool picture to put on our fridge. And, to my son, Daddy was the hero of the day.

He feeds them crap

On the rare mornings that I get to sleep in, I’ve shuffled out to the kitchen only to find one of my kids halfway through a BBQ potato chip bag or a box of cookies.  Their dad usually pretends he didn’t notice they’d somehow dragged heavy chairs across the floor to raid the pantry. Or he’ll shrug and say, “So what? It’s just cookies. It’s not gonna hurt ‘em.” I have my suspicions he’s been taking cues from Bill Cosby’s old 80s stand-up routine: “Dad is great! He gives us chocolate cake!”

He forgets to dress them

Whenever my husband is alone with the kids for any length of time, my kids inevitably end up wearing things out at Wal-Mart I wouldn’t dress my dog in (if I had a dog and even then, I’d still spare the poor dog any embarrassment of wearing a hot pink tutu over winter boots, a tiara, no shirt and a tie). Or he’ll somehow forget vital articles of clothing entirely, such as socks, mittens, a hat and a jacket when it’s minus twenty with the wind chill. “What?” Dad will shrug. “They’re only outside for all of two minutes from the car to the store. The cold isn’t gonna hurt ‘em.” Once again, Daddy = Hero.

He is their favorite toy

My kids have every electronic gadget, loads of Legos, Hot Wheels and Barbies. But nothing tops playing “tickle monster” with Dad. Every night it’s like the WWF match-up between Andre the Giant and the Little People. If it involves my husband being attacked by two giggling hyenas, rolling around the living room floor, my kids are in heaven.  Sure, Dad may have to pause here and there for a breath or defibrillator, but he presses on with the head-locks and accidental kicks to the groin because he knows they love it. Dad is The Man.

He loves them dearly and never hesitates to show it

My husband’s arms were the very first to cradle both of my kids after they drew their first breaths. Those same arms and hands rocked them during those endless, colicky nights, changed their diapers, rubbed their backs when they were sick, hugged them close when they had nightmares. He blows my son kisses at the bus stop every morning and swings my daughter up into the air when he gets home from work, covering her in giggly kisses. He is full of love and affection for them and I see their light shine when he is around.

He respects who they are and believes in them

The one thing my kids know for sure is that their dad will be there for them, guiding and supporting them in any way he can. He listens to my son when he cries that a kid teased him at school or when he’s frustrated with a basketball game loss or when he asks, “Why did God make the world?” Sometimes Dad knows the answers and will give some advice. Sometimes Dad will ask them for advice. This, to me, is the most important duty of any parent/caregiver/teacher in a child’s life: to really listen and to encourage a child to discover their true shining inner self and soul. This foundation of acceptance and security will help support them the rest of their lives and shape the person they will become in immeasurable ways.  For this, their Daddy is my hero.

This upcoming Sunday, I will celebrate the amazing father my husband has become over these nine years. And I will honor all of the other dads out there doing their best every day to show their kids how much they love them. Even if that means Oreos for breakfast.

Happy Father’s Day.

35 thoughts on “Dad: The Man, the Myth, the Legend

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you for adding “This upcoming Sunday….”, because my eyes saw “Happy Father’s Day” first and I said – out loud to no one – “Crap. Is today Father’s Day?” 🙂

    Sha’woo. I have the cards. I have the gifts. I have the plan ready – but if Father’s Day was today, it would not have gone as planned. (smile)

    Darla this was great. You got it right – those are the reason the kids love their Dad. Admittedly, those are the reasons I get annoyed with Dad. (I’m kidding. I’m kidding… but really? Two PB&Js for breakfast with cereal??) Great way to turn around what might frustrate Moms – okay, me – into something beautiful and memorable for the kids. You got it right! Thank you! ~ Lenore

    1. Ah, sorry for the mini-heart attack moment, Lenore! Yes, I had to write this ahead of time as this week I’m way too busy and I know I’d forget to get around to writing.

      I hope your husband has a great Father’s Day and PB &J isn’t so bad, grains/protein/fruit are all covered, right? 😉

  2. Hi,
    What a wonderful post, and so true for a lot of Fathers. I also have a great Father, I’m an old girl now, and he still considers me his little girl. 🙂
    Unlike a lot of Countries around the world, Fathers Day in Australia is celebrated on the first Sunday in September, I have no idea why.

  3. Dad’s have always seemed to get a bad rap. They typically aren’t portrayed the best on TV or in the movies. Mother’s day has always and will always be bigger then Father’s day. It’s all about the mother and child for the first 3 months, in conversation typically (even if the dad is present) no one asks how he is doing. Dad’s only get typically 2 weeks at best of paternity leave while the mother (rightfully so) mostly gets anywhere between 1 – 3 months leave.

    Mothers deserve all the praise in the world… I’m not saying that dads need to get more then moms because by far mothers do, do more then fathers.

    You’re right though in all of this!

    1. Rookiedad, I completely agree. Dads should be praised and respected just as much as mothers. Any caregiver/relative that puts the child first and nurtures them and helps them grow and learn are priceless and deserve kudos. I hope you have a fantastic Father’s Day, you deserve it! 🙂

  4. Great post. When my first came along and daddy zoomed them around like a rocket ship, I was a nervous wreck. I was absolutely convinced he was going to drop them or give them shaken baby syndrome (at age 2, mind you.) Nothing ever happened and they loved it, of course. By the time #5 got here, I was asking him to do it, just to give me a break

    I love reading a good dad story. There’s too many absent fathers on television and I hate that the ones that stick around are portrayed as morons. I love my daddy and my children’s daddy!

    1. I did the same, always worrying Dad was roughhousing a little too much. But the kids survive and absolutely LOVE him for it! I think that physical contact is so crucial for their development (even if I have to watch and age a few years here and there). I’m sure by the time you got to child number 5 you were fine with it…I am much more laid-back with child number two.

    1. Ha! Lisa, I had to laugh when I typed it because poor poor Jim always starts out okay, all gung-ho for a smackdown…then after a few minutes he gets winded and has to stop for a moment. He ain’t getting any younger. 😉 these kids just might kill him.

  5. You had me laughing out loud so much that I had to explain what I was reading to my Dh. He does well with breakfast, but could care less if our little man is in his PJ’s all day long. He is also our son’s favorite toy (next to Legos and trains). He was amazing when our little man came too early, necessitating horrendous daily drives to visit the little guy in the NICU. And some of the proudest moments are when my little guy says to me, “It’s ok Mom. You go take a break. Dad and I are going to spend some manly time together.” Love it!

    1. Oh, that is too sweet! Manly time! Our son was in the hospital too for emergency surgery when he was 6 weeks old and I remember Jim and how he never wanted to leave our son’s side, we’d take turns rubbing his belly and sleeping on the chair. Dads are incredible aren’t they? We are so blessed.

  6. Darrin Stairs

    Awesome post Darla! you are a terrific writer…this had me laughing and tearing up at the same time.

    I can’t wait to have Nancy and Caroline read this – Maybe it will explain a few things to them. 🙂
    -Your Lovin’ Bro, Darrin

    1. Aw, thanks big bro! I am happy you got a chance to read it. I hope this post does help clear things up for Miss Caroline and Nancy…might not actually give them concrete answers as to WHY dads do what they do… 😉 (I’m still scratching my head) but the good stuff far outweighs the not so good.

  7. Mary the OINKteller

    Lovely post! Your husband ought to be pleased. It’s the Perfect Father’s Day gift! (Tickle-fight was a favorite in our house too; until my husband accidentally knocked out Small’s bottom tooth with his knee.)

  8. Fathers have been an easy target for quite a while now, but it doesn’t surprise me that you decided to step out of the pack and say positive things — and do it with humor and style. Your writing gets better all the time, Darla. Enjoy that beautiful family, and Happy Father’s Day to your husband.

    1. You always have such kind things to say! Thanks, Charles. I really had a lot of fun writing this one, but my husband takes the credit for supplying great material. And I hope you have a fantastic Father’s Day as well.

  9. From what I’ve observed, it seems that the number one thing a father can do – even if he is absent all day and night for work – is to love his children and let them know that he’ll always be there for them even if he isn’t able to take care of them doing the daily routine stuff. Children really cling on to that idea and I think they keep it with them forever despite not getting to see their fathers as much as other caregivers in many cases. Your kiddos (and you) are so lucky to have a father/husband who does that, plus so much more!! Hope your family has a happy Father’s Day weekend 🙂

    1. Absolutely. And there are many stay-at-home dads out there. My own husband put in many an hour changing diapers and feeding them when he wasn’t working. Parents sometimes have to work long hours but as long as the kids know in their hearts they’re loved deeply and respected as individuals, they’ll turn out better than fine. 🙂 I hope you have a wonderful Father’s Day weekend as well.

  10. Priya

    It isn’t easy to have one parent do all the parenting. Clearly, in your family, you’re both sharing the responsibility. Someone’s got to teach the children that pink tutus too are quite okay, you know?

    Happy Father’s Day to you and to your loving family, Darla.

    1. Thanks, Priya. I agree, their Dad’s love trumps any pink tutus at wal-mart or Oreo breakfasts anyway. Some day, I hope he remembers to put a coat on them in the dead of winter though. 😉

  11. What a great post! Life’s been so busy lately that I was happy DH went out and bought himself a new bbq yesterday and announced, “I’m good!” when I asked him what he wanted for Father’s Day.

    You’ve just brought my attention back to his contributions as Dad to our brood of five. I take him for granted so often, completely overlooking how fabulous he is with our kids – especially when I think about how much I *don’t* miss my own father.

    Think I’ll come up with something special for him on Sunday. It’ll be tight. We have to travel 4 hours each way for a son’s football game. Thinking a big tailgate party might be in order!

    Thank you for the inspiration! (And the reminder of things more important than my typical to-do list…)

  12. My husband would be thrilled with a new BBQ and/or tailgate party. The kids and I ended up buying him The Family Guy Star Wars trilogy spoof though and made him french toast this morning, so he is a happy man. Hope you all enjoy your Father’s Day!

    1. Oh, thank you, your comment made my day! Gets me motivated to sit down and write again. Now that summer’s in full swing and the kids want to be in the pool 24/7, I really should invest in a laptop! 🙂

  13. Cocktails of History and Prose

    Feeding them crap…my husband does that! He also pretends not to notice. Kind of like spongebob…I don’t put it on, and I know my kids don’t know what channel its how come it is always on, in every room, every day my husband has off? Hummmmm…….

    Great post. As always. I love the way you tell a story.

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