My Father had a peculiar way of teaching me things. I have come to call them "Hand Grenade Lessons". He'd pull the pin and toss me a nugget and later, sometimes years later, they would go off. I learned a lot from the old guy, but almost never at the time he tried to teach me. He set the bar very high and until today, left me wondering if I would ever feel the pride of a Dad done good.
My oldest worries me a little. He is forgetful, lackadaisical and can't remember to turn off lights, but he can figure out a video game with complexity of the Rosetta Stone, before the shrink wrap hits the pile of dead laundry on his floor. He does his homework while watching "C.S.I." and hardly ever brings home less than a 3.5 G.P.A.. I still feel a duty as his father, and to my working class Irish heritage, to raise his "dude quotient" to a respectable level. It is imperative that all men with my last name, accumulate tales of unbearable forced child labor, to pass on to their ungrateful sons.
The youngest, his Mom, and I, built a half pipe two years ago. He saved half the money and I put up the other half, plus two more halves, and so it was built. He was a good skater and I wanted to make sure he had the best of everything, that's how I roll. Now my if I had asked my Dad for a half pipe, he would have bought me a hammer and some plans and wished me luck. It was his way of throwing whatever noodle I brought to him (and there were many) up against the wall, before my enthusiasm and his wallet drained. These are the subtle arts you learn after raising six boys and one girl. Home boy had skills. They were lost on me, and I frequently played the misunderstood brat, to his Yoda.
I decided after the oldest over filled the pool twice in one week, that he needed to learn how to pull off a project. I announced that he needed to disassemble the ramp. The remnants needed to be stacked into piles for several other ill planned projects, to further ruin our back yard. We agreed on a price, negotiated a labor agreement between he and the youngest, and I gave them the tools. Now you should know that this kid lets out huge amounts of air when asked to participate in anything other than consuming pizza or my money. He is a world champion procrastinator, and an Olympic eye roller. He and his brother get along about as good as two cats in a sack and they can't agree on anything except their mutual hatred.
Words cannot capture my joy, after waking up at nine, and finding them hard at work, a pile of removed wood, rising in testament to my superior Dadness. They worked till they got hot and then took a swim. They forgot to eat lunch. They laughed and posed for ....wait for it.... A PICTURE! They worked together like brothers, a feat never before seen in this house. I had to let go, stay out of the way and let my boys work it out on their own, it's the hardest thing for me to do. I watched from the window, drank my tea, and beamed with pride. My boys were behaving as I always dreamed they would. My Dad would have loved it, I know I did.
Happy Fathers Day.