Just ahead of Fathers Day this weekend, I wanted to post a tribute to my Dad. This is one of my favorite memories of my Dad.
The moment happens in the days pre-internet. Days when the fountain of family knowledge wasn’t a computer in the corner but the encyclopedia, vast volumes of information stored in 20+ odd books sold to my parents by some traveling salesman who passed through our small town.
As a 9 year old, I loved those books. I would spend hours flipping through them reading about the most obscure of topics. Jai-Alai what’s that? Coelacanth? Oh that is cool. They opened up the world to me and I contribute my Cliff Clavin Trivial Pursuit skills to the many hours I spent reading our encyclopedias.
In those days, full colour photos had to be printed on special paper, so all the colour photos would tend to be grouped together on special insert pages. One of these special photo inserts was 3 pages of colour photos devoted to classic and significant cars throughout the years.
One winter night, my Dad and I were sitting around the kitchen table and, as usual, I was reading an encyclopedia I had snagged at random from the set. It was the encyclopedia with the car photos. My Dad, being a bit of an old car buff, shuffled over beside me and asked what I was looking at. I showed him the photos. He pointed at one and said, “your Grandpa had this one. It had a push button transmission. Oh, and this car here has suicide doors.”
“What’s a suicide door?”
“A door that opens backwards.”
“What’s this car, Dad?”
And off we went. For the rest of the night, Dad and I sat at the kitchen table, me pointing at photos of cars in the encyclopedia and Dad telling me everything he knew about them.
And that is it. My Dad and me, sitting at the kitchen table talking about cars. At the time, I didn’t think anything of it. But as the years have gone by, that memory and the significance of that time has stuck with me. It was my Dad spending time with me, passionately engaged with me.
It’s a moment that illustrates the primary rule of parenting – make time to be with your kids. Nothing we do as parents will have as much impact on our kids than the simple fact that we choose to spend our time with them. It doesn’t have to be big or extravagant. Just be there for them during those seemingly insignificant moments of the day.
I wish I could know what moments my kids will remember from their childhood, but, of course, I can’t. I don’t know what moments they will pick to remember when they are 40 and have kids of their own. But I do hope they will have a vast collection to choose from. And because of that, I hope they too will realize just how important it is to make the time to spend with their kids.
Thanks, Dad. Happy Fathers Day.