Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Bit of Fatherly Advice

Dad and I maintained a "business relationship" throughout childhood.  A sort of pseudo-boss whose tutelage centered around an affinity for parsing action with skepticism, and perpetual armchair quarterbacking.  He inspired detailed cause/effect analysis and successfully passed forward a none too subtle disdain for group think.  We used to joke a bit, but there never came a time when our roles got confused ... until the day he dropped me off at college.

We took separate vehicles and caravaned.  Just the two of us.  For four hours I now like to think that the road over which our trucks passed were the first miles traveled under banner of a more complex relationship.  Having arrived, a sort of stoicism strained our two emotions, both knowing that nothing would be the same.  Dad's home would no longer be my home.  A First Mate had taken command of his own vessel armed with the practical knowledge that only a salty old sea farer could teach.  Yes, the training wheels were coming off.

We labored to carry everything up stairs, and ate a late lunch heavily steeped in bilateral feelings of uncertainty, and of change.  After moving everything into the room, Dad and I scoured the vehicles for any forgotten items, audibly rehashing a checklist of essentials:  computer, towels, cellphone, wallet.  Just a few more minutes to spend together, each second cementing the gravity of our mutual milestone.

I remember the spot where Dad shook my hand and passed into one of those handshake slash one-armed hugs that two dudes do so as not to be too emotionally showy.  Then he put a hand on the outside of each arm, just below the shoulder, and looked me square in the eyes.  After a brief pause meant to re-engage my role as concentrating pupil, he stated, 
Before you go off and do something stupid, always make sure to check out her mom.  She'll end up looking and acting just like her in the end.
I laughed a deep, hearty laugh as the weight of the day's emotional taxation briefly lifted.  He smiled and then did something he had never done before, resting a right paw open and to the side of my neck.  Another deep stare.
You're ready.
Challenge your kids, cherish your kids.  Show them the bedrock.