I've been a bit flaky with posting lately - between teaching piano, going to doctors appointments, trying to keep my house at least somewhat in order, look after my daughter and spend as much time as possible at the hospital with my Dad, I haven't had a lot of time to sit down at my computer...
Last week, the 'Toddle Along Tuesday' post was about traits you hoped your child did (or did not) inherit from you. Since my Dad has been on my mind constantly lately, I started thinking about the traits I inherited from him. I am proud of these things - even the ones that are not always flattering, and I hope that my daughter inherits them also...
1. Educating Yourself - Always.
My Dad taught me to read when I was 3. Really and truly, I could read full-length books before I entered kindergarten - there's a University study out there somewhere on me to prove it. My Dad never attended post-secondary, but always voiced that he wished he could go back - as an adult, when he understood the importance of learning, and had developed a passion for learning that he lacked in his earlier years. He was extremely self-educated, though. Although he had mild dyslexia, and had trouble reading, I remember him reading constantly. He learned how to build guitars and other musical instruments by reading books. When he watched tv, he watched documentaries and how-to videos. He spent all of his spare time learning. Recently I've discovered the same desire in myself. I've had to admit to myself that I rarely enjoy watching a movie - because it doesn't get anything accomplished. I'd really rather do laundry, or do some writing, or play the piano - because these things are productive - than watch a movie. Even when I'm watching a movie, I enjoy it much more if my hands are doing something at the same time... It's annoying for my movie-loving husband, but I'm ok with it. It's a good trait, and when it comes to my children - the desire to learn and 'do' will always bring more success than sitting around and waiting for things to happen for them.
2. Attention to detail
This sort of goes along with the first one. My Dad builds (or used to, anyway) musical instruments, which requires a lot of dexterity and patience. My Dad is not the most graceful person, and he sometimes makes a lot of mistakes when he's building, but he will always go back and fix it.
I remember my Dad learning specific songs on the guitar or banjo, and he would spend hours playing certain riffs over and over, making sure his fingers learned how to move exactly as they needed to. Sometimes I feel as though I could use more of this particular persistence to perfect things, but I also look back at things I have done - projects I have completed and songs I have learned - and realize there must be some of that in me after all.
This is also part of the first two... My Dad has an almost unending amount of patience. Actually, I don't think I can recall a time when he really ran out of patience. He had patience for himself when he was working on things, and he had patience with me when he taught me how to build with him, or when he was struggling through a particularly difficult book. He didn't give up, for anything.
I hope I have inherited this also, although sometimes I don't think so...
I almost never remember my Dad yelling at me. When he was angry with me, we would 'discuss' things. He has a bizarre ability to remain calm in almost any situation.
I was in a car accident when I was a teenager, and my then-boyfriend voiced his disappointment later at how calm I seemed, when he was hoping to comfort me but I really didn't seem to need it. Internally I was panicking, but I guess that didn't come across. When I called my Dad later that day to inform him of what had happened, the tone of his voice didn't waver. I heard a very calm and collected 'ok....ok....ok' as I explained to him that I was alright, but had been in an accident. My Mom told me later that she could see the look in his eyes and knew something was very wrong - but he was able to keep it together for me.
This has served me well over the years, as nothing can shake me. Sometimes I almost wish I could lose it - throw a huge, angry fit just to let off steam - but I know too well that it wouldn't really make me feel better, and I'm just not that kind of person.
5. The ability to laugh at himself.
My Dad never failed to embarrass me in a public place. Remember Mr.Bean? I hated that show. I hated that show, because so many of those situations had happened to my Dad when I was with him, hoping that no one I knew would walk by and see us. We were entering (or exiting?) a parkade once, and he had gotten his ticket and the arm should have lifted to let him drive pass, but for some reason it didn't. I don't know how long he waited, but there were people behind him so he got the brain wave to drive around the arm (we had a small car, he figured he'd see if it fit... or something... I don't actually have any clue what he was thinking...) and as he was trying to maneuver the car around the arm, it lifted and then lowered again - directly into the driver window. I have no idea how... I just remember how embarrassing it was as Dad tried to drive the car forward and backward in an attempt to free us from the parkade arm... I actually don't remember how we got out of there, but I was mortified - I remember that.
But Dad was never embarrassed. And you could always bring up the story later and he would laugh. There was nothing you couldn't bring up, actually. Once (when he actually did get really angry...) he started throwing apples in the house. (That's what was easily accessible, I think...). Mom jokes about how she was cleaning up applesauce for weeks afterward, and Dad laughs too. It doesn't bother him to bring it up - it's funny, why not laugh.
I think I'm this way too - mostly, anyway. And I hope my kids can always laugh at themselves also. Nothing is so serious in life, it's better to be able to laugh.
I'm sure I could think of more, but it's a pretty long post already, so I'll be done here. I just wanted to talk about my Dad a bit... Thanks!