Lesson Learned. (Thanks Dad).

If I were on top of things, this blog would have been posted on (or before) Father’s Day. But, I am my father’s daughter and dad has never been on time for anything his entire life. Not church. Not graduations. Not flights. Not my high school prom. It’s just how he is.

So… in honor of Father’s Day I wanted to write about how my dad has shaped my life, even if I’m a little late.

There are a million things I have to thank Dad for, and trust me, I’ve tried. But my rave reviews generally either get brushed off or are followed up with a list of things he feels he could have, would have, should have done better.

Despite what he thinks, Dad taught me some of the most important life lessons that I still apply to my adult life. Here are just a few.

“Life Ain’t a Bowl of Cherries”
This was possibly the toughest lesson Dad tried to instill. I wanted to whine. Complain. I wanted things to be different. Better. Heck, even reversed. Things weren’t fair and I wanted them to be. You know… typical teenage concerns. He’d remind me that “Life ain’t a bowl of cherries,” which annoyed me further but ultimately got me to shut up about my first-world problems. I still chuckle when things don’t line up quite perfectly and imagine him reminding me…. “Life ain’t a bowl of cherries…”

Quitting is not an Option
There were a few things I wanted to give up on back in the day. I had played softball for a number of years and just really didn’t love it. Some days the ladies’ requests at the café I worked at were enough to make me want to throw a dried-out doughnut in my boss’ face and stomp outta there. And I came to the conclusion my junior year that choir wasn’t going to make me a rock star. But Dad encouraged me to stick with it, “do your best,” and see what came of it. I applied this to other areas of my life and now have a hard time coming up with more than about three things I’ve ever quit in my life. Off the top of my head I can think of one – golf, which I don’t feel deserves an explanation. After all, I stuck with softball. You can’t do both. I was proof.

Don’t bother keeping up with the Jones’
Dad taught me a lot about financial responsibility. Not through endless lectures or PowerPoint presentations. Rather, by his own lifestyle. A successful attorney, Dad could afford a lot of things. He could afford to buy an Escalade, but he drove an older Jeep instead. He could afford a brand new ski boat, but he settled for a 1979 Grady-White that worked… most of the time. He could afford to buy his kids the camera they begged endlessly for, but instead encouraged us to “save up you shekels” so we could buy it ourselves some day.

We were blessed, not spoiled. We had everything we needed, but weren’t handed everything we wanted. I will forever be grateful for him teaching me that conformity wasn’t the best route, that saving money was important, and that having the “latest and greatest” was almost always meaningless.

Look Before You Leap
Oh, the times I heard this one.  Dad would plead with me to fully understand something before I dove in. To think before I acted, make sure the rewards outweighed the risks and move ahead cautiously if there were any risks involved. And for the most part, I listened. And the times I didn’t…. I tried my best to keep it a secret from Dad. Which oddly never worked.

Don’t dress, act like or be a bimbo.
Seriously. Not an option. Embarrassingly enough, I tried. At about 10 years old, I recall trying to say the words “cross country” in an adult conversation. Not complicated, but I couldn’t get it out right.

“Crosh Crunchy.”

“Crotch Country.”

I began to giggle, thinking, of course, that it was hilarious.

It was the first and only time I was ever sent to my room. Dad felt I was messing up on purpose and was frustrated that I was being a goofball and making a spectacle of my stupidity.

Other times, when Dad would catch me wearing something slightly skimpy, a modest 2-piece swim suit for example, he’d ask one simple question that had me beelining it for my bedroom to find something a bit more… bulky.

“Nice swimsuit. Where’s the rest of it?”

Like I said, not an option.

Good Enough Usually Isn’t
I absolutely dreaded asking Dad for help. Whether it was practicing my saxophone or doing math problems, he was my absolute last resort, mainly because a 30-minute task would stretch out to 3 hours, making sure I had it down pat, that it was perfect and that I understood fully.

It was terrible. I would get to bed entirely too late and then when he sent me off to school the next day, he’d yell after me “work hard!”

Some nerve.

“I will Dad. I will.”

And, because of him, I did… and still do.

Shootin’ the Wit is a sporadic blog about everyday life that should never, ever be taken too seriously.