Sunday was Father’s Day, the day I get to spend appreciating my dad for everything he’s been for me and my family. It doesn’t make up for all the times I take him for granted, but it reminds me to keep things in perspective. I am really lucky to have a dad that makes his family a priority and who has been there for my brother and me whenever we needed him.
Saturday night, per my dad’s request, we ordered Jack Stack barbecue (the BEST in Kansas City) for dinner. Then my parents and I watched The Ghost Writer, which I wanted to see mainly for Ewan McGregor (see his address to activist youth here! Love that he is a UNICEF ambassador…. just like someone else was…).
The next morning, my dad had some special plans in mind; we headed out to the zoo! I was totally surprised this was his activity of choice for the day. He must be on an animal kick or something–we got him a bird feeder for Father’s Day, and he was all over it. Still, it was a really good time, despite the heat and the obnoxious children everywhere (that did it: I’m never having kids).
We saw the new polar bear exhibit. The bear, Nikita, kept doing circular laps over and over again. I thought maybe he was just getting some exercise, but then I came across this article from last September suggesting that the behavior is worrisome and due to the unnatural state of captivity.
When we went home, we rested and ate lunch before my brother’s baseball game later that afternoon. The night before (really at about 1 in the morning), I had made one of my dad’s favorite desserts, a chocolate pie. I’m not much of a cook or baker, but I’ve been trying to hone my skills. So, I was excited to see how it turned out (and hoping it made my dad smile instead of gag on his special day).
I brought out the pie after lunch, and my dad dug in. We both had a little trouble getting the pie out of the pan; it seemed particularly sticky. My dad started eating it and said it tasted great (in hindsight, I still don’t know if this was him being nice, or if he really did think the filling tasted good. That would have been the only good part, anyway-). But I was concerned about why it was sticking so much. “Do you think I put the filling in when it was too hot?” I asked my mom. She seemed confused: “You’re supposed to put the filling in when it’s hot… you mean you think the crust was too hot?” I gave her a blank look. “The crust? The crust was never hot…”
We both just looked at each other for a minute. I had used a frozen pie crust, and I had forgotten one key step…
“You didn’t bake the crust?”
Talk about embarrassing. I was so proud to make something my dad liked and for it to turn out well the first time I tried. My dad had even been impressed, seeing as I’m not known for making things from scratch (which the filling was, even if the crust was store-bought). I had to stop him about 3/4 of the way through his piece and tell him, “you probably shouldn’t eat that.” Then I just couldn’t stop laughing.
I used my sleepiness at 1am as an excuse. Still, I was determined to correct my mistake. Hence, chocolate pie, take #2:
The pie needed to cool for a couple hours, which was perfect timing since we needed to head out to the ball field to watch Clay pitch. Unfortunately, the team was a little off that day. Must have been the heat or something… they’re usually a good team, but Sunday wasn’t pretty. Still, it was fun to watch, since I hadn’t gotten to see him pitch yet this summer.
After the game we got pizza for dinner and just chilled out at the house; it was nice to have some relaxation time. But, I had to head back home earlier than scheduled because of storms coming toward Lawrence. That means I didn’t get to stick around for the second pie taste test. I took a piece home with me and it seemed good, but I still haven’t gotten the verdict from the family.
There are a few things I wanted to say about my dad that didn’t make it on here Sunday, given our busy day.
My dad makes me proud in so many ways. I’ve always learned a lot from his wisdom and his example of hard work and compassion, but lately in particular I’ve really begun to understand (somewhat, at least) just how lucky I am to have the parents I do.
My dad is always there for family and friends when they need help or someone to talk to; it seems like a lot of people are always going to him for advice. I don’t blame them–I know very well that he gives great advice! I don’t always listen to it, and he thinks that I think he’s old and silly or something… but I do value his opinion.
For the last few months or more, my dad has been volunteering as a mentor with the Prison Fellowship program. He’s not bringing them a message of God or faith; he’s bringing them hope for a new future and helping them become better people. He mentors a few people, some who are still in prison and a couple who have been released; all are sex offenders. He come to them with no judgment; he is upfront about his opinion that they need to serve their time, but he believes in their ability to turn their lives around. He also has developed a new understanding of just how warped the legal classification of sex offenders is in Kansas, an issue I have explored before (although it’s a much deeper issue than my column from last year reveals).
His compassion for these men is so inspiring to me. He has even been thinking about starting a nonprofit organization in order to help convicts get back on their feet in a healthy way once their prison terms are served. He has been able to get past his initial discomfort with men convicted of a terrible crime in order to see who they are as people and help them become good members of society. That is one of the most admirable things I’ve ever seen.
Now, I couldn’t write a post singing my dad’s praises without poking a little fun at him too. When we were in Oklahoma City visiting family a few weekends ago, my grandma showed us a compilation of my dad’s college essays and poems she’d found. I remembered one in particular; too hilarious not to share:
To be or not to be;
Not to be or to be;
To be not or be;
To be or to be not;
That is the question.
Besides that memorable piece, there are a few other ones worth sharing:
There my dog lays
At the side of the road.
There my dog lays;
His body is cold.
There my dog lays;
It’s been there a week.
There’s where my dog laid;
Now look at those fat maggots.
A book is a book;
It is not a hook.
A book is a book;
It is not hollow.
A book is a book;
It may be boring.
A book is a book;
It’s better if it’s short.
Poetry is not fun.
Poetry is not easy.
Poetry is not necessary.
Poetry is for a poet.
(Clearly it’s not for you, Dad.)
I don’t stand on my head;
The floor in our room
Is real dirty.
There are many bugs on our floor;
My head stays clean that way.
That’s what Composition 101 at a tiny Oklahoma bible college will get you.
I also particularly enjoyed the following essay on how to raise a newborn:
A very important thing that every parent should know is how to raise a baby. It seems that as we look around at our society we see where many parents have failed. There are many examples of this: Jimmy Carter, Billy Graham, Chet Huntley, and Mark Cosby, just to name a few.
The first and one of the most important steps that should be taken is a quick pick-up from the hospital. Within two days of the delivery of the stork should a potential parent pick up the kid. A quick pick-up will show the kid he is wanted.
The next step to be taken is the feeding of the first meal. This writer highly recommends a stop by your local McDonald’s on the way home from the hospital. The toddler may not grab his Big Mac and start eating. Don’t be discouraged, shove it in his mouth until it is not visible.
Another important step in raising a baby is giving him his first bath. He may not look like he needs one until you take his week old diaper off. Fill the tub up with warm water, and stick the kid in it. Give him a bar of soap, and then leave him so he can have some privacy. Come back ten minutes later and take him out and dry him off. Apply a new diaper after every bath. This should be done once a week.
The next important step should be his first steps. It is important to teach the kid quickly how to walk so he will not depend on his parents too much. The quickest way this writer knows is to take the baby outside and lay him down on an ant pile. This should inspire him to walk.
A baby should also learn how to talk at an early age. This can be done easily by the parents. Buy some English class albums and play these records every night to your baby. If you desire a very intellectual baby, you may buy some Spanish and German albums too.
Probably the most important step for you, the parent, to take if your child lives to be an adult is to carry a gun. Carry the gun at all times, even to bed. There is a good chance that your son or daughter may not have understood that you raised him up this way for his own good.
I hope to God he didn’t use those parenting tactics on me. His professor, bless her soul, did comment at the end, “I shall pray for your children.”
Clearly my dad didn’t have a future in creative writing. It’s sufficient to say, though, that I always have been and still am a daddy’s girl. Love you, Dad!