Sunday, June 15, 2014

Boys Are Dumb, Don't Date A Plumber, and Other Things I Learned from My Father

     My father wasn't prone to giving advice.  

 He did once point out to me that if I didn't leave all of my crap on the floor in front of the door when I get home from school, then my Mama wouldn't come home from work a few minutes later and yell at me for leaving a mess. (Why I couldn't figure this out myself, because it happened EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. says something about me that I'm not particularly proud of.)

Other gems of fatherly wisdom:

"If you didn't do the job right [his way], then the job isn't done."

I have found those very words coming out of my mouth as I'm standing in a room that one of my children insists they just cleaned  that is still full of wet towels, wrinkled school papers, and dog-hair tumbleweeds.

"Go to college so you don't have to work outside in bad weather doing manual labor like your Old Man."

I remembered these words fondly as I was standing in a church parking lot during a monsoon moving 50 lb. bags of potatoes and crates of produce around in preparation for a farmers' market for food pantry clients. I didn't learn about this in college, I tell you what.

"There is nothing wrong with working in the service sector, but if you are going to be a waitress, work at the 5-star hotel on Nantucket, not at the diner in South Podunk."

This served me well, as I waitressed my way through college and the early years of my professional career when my entry level salary needed some reinforcing.  Working banquets at a PGA golf club was WAY better than my gig at the pizza place.

"Don't date a plumber.  They'll put their hands in anything and I don't want them touching you later."

This just makes me laugh. Especially when you realize that he advised my brother to consider BECOMING a plumber, because it is a recession-proof trade. "People are always going to need a good plumber, Mike."

The piece of advice I have re-shared most often, though, besides the "don't date a plumber" piece was this response he gave me when I asked him what to do about a bit of boyfriend trouble:

"All men are assholes.  Even the good ones.  Once you come to accept that, you can lower your expectations and things will go more smoothly for you."

Over the years, I have edited that to "Boys are dumb," because there are some situations where referring to someone as an asshole (like at a women's Bible study) isn't kosher.  It's actually a corollary to my training in developmentally appropriate practice, where early childhood professionals are cautioned to not expect a child to behave in a way they are not yet developed enough to manage.  Don't expect a child (man) to know something he hasn't yet been taught.   Don't expect a child (man) to be someone he isn't.  Don't expect a boy (man) to behave like a girl (woman.)

My father died almost four years ago, but the lessons he left behind stay with me. Thanks, Dad, Sir.

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