That Time You Thought You Outsmarted Dad and Didn’t

As kids, for whatever reason we all think we’re smarter than our parents; our fathers especially. Whether it’s our perspective at the time, or lack there of, everyone at some point thought they could outsmart Dad. I know I did. I still do. And even though I’m not an ignorant teenager anymore and the playing field has leveled a bit, I still sometimes hear that imposing phrase from my youth.

 

So help me understand something…

 

You want to talk about annoying? Seriously the man should have had those 5 words

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You know what else is annoying? Baby pics of you in a sailor suit. Dad’s take note. Don’t let it happen to your son.

trademarked! Once my Dad uttered that phrase not only did my sister and I know we were screwed, but Dad was going to make us look foolish. He’d take us to school! No matter how good our story was, how much we rehearsed our lines of denial, or bending of events, Dad always had one up on us.

 

We could be as confident as anything. Stand up straight, look him in the eye, and really “mean” what we said. It all came crashing down once he said…

 

So help me understand something…

 

It was like taking the stand against a seasoned trial lawyer twisting your words or thoughts of the situation to benefit their end game. Sometimes I thought he was going to break out a black robe and gavel. Or go out into the neighborhood recruiting jury members while I placed my right hand on a Bible and swore to tell the truth.

I never had to swear to tell the truth on a Bible, though. Maybe that was a good thing. And now that I think of it what a brilliant move on his part to catch me lying! Of course he had some practice. I’m the second child. Admittedly my older sister had it worse.

And it took me a while, (adulthood) to understand he wasn’t belittling us. He didn’t want to get the best of us. As a matter of fact I truly believe if we ever did outsmart Dad he would have let it go. What he was doing was what all great fathers do. He was preparing us for our future.

 

So help me understand something…

 

…was his way of mentoring us. It made us think about what went wrong or how we could have been better.

Make no mistake. We were still in trouble!

But he was coaching us on how to think for ourselves and do the right thing. He held us to a higher standard so we would hold ourselves to that standard on our own and not rely on others to do it for us. He prepared my sister and I to be independent, freethinking people who respected others regardless of race, gender, or opinion. He didn’t sugarcoat the real world and made sure we knew that out there we were entitled to what we earned not what we wanted.

Of course I didn’t know all that at the time. I was a bratty; know it all teenager my poor Dad had to deal with like most of you were.

 

Admit it, you were.

On Father’s Day we all take to social media and post a cute pic of us as a kid with Dad and kind words about heroes and sacrifices for what we have. (See above). But in place of all the physical stuff they gave us; the roof over head, meals on the table, allowances, toys and such, should we also reflect on and thank Dads for the mental aptitude they instilled in us as well? Is that their greater legacy as their children pay it forward? And what better gift to give Dad on Father’s Day than for them to witness their mentoring pay off, even when it’s never complete.

 

Because I may be smarter now than I was at 18. But I still never know when Dad’s going to ask me to help him understand something.

 

 

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