“You look just like your mom.” Those are always the first words out of anyone’s mouth who knows my mom and is meeting me for the first time. Admittedly, my mom and I have many things in common. Namely, a talkative nature and knack for strong opinions. But lately, I’ve been noticing more and more the ways that I’m like my dad.
On first glance, my dad and I don’t seem to have much in common. My good high school friend once half-joked that he had never heard my dad talk. That was obviously false, but had enough truth to it to be funny.
But for all that our personalities are different, his influence has definitely rubbed off on me.
An absurdist sense of humor
When I was a kid, my mom would play a game while we were waiting in restaurants: What Else Could This Be? In it, she challenged me to reimagine common objects. A sugar packet could be a doll’s pillow. A salt shaker could be a rocket ship. But no matter what the original object was, my dad always had the same answer: a pirogi. Yep, the Eastern European dumpling. When I was a kid, I would roll my eyes, but now I find that answer hysterical. Although I usually can’t reach that level of absurd humor, my husband is a master at it.
A deep pride in my work – and need to inform others
The other thing my dad always did at restaurants was actively notice their condiments. He worked in food sales, which is a bit thankless. But he would always comment, “Hey, that’s one of ours,” and show genuine joy when he saw a sugar packet or other product that he represented. (I kind of miss that now that he’s retired.) I work in a very different industry – communications – but also feel deep pride when I see my work posted somewhere. Instead of commenting at restaurants, I post links on Facebook and Twitter.
Tendency to have deep conversations in cars
My dad tends to sit back and listen when my mom talks. And like me, my mom talks a lot. So I always had the best conversations with my dad when my mom wasn’t there. Most of the time, those conversations were in the car. Years of driving me to the library and swim practice added up to many hours spent together in the car. While I don’t remember any particular conversation, I always felt listened to and comfortable. No matter what it was, my answers to his questions were always the right ones. Much of the time we would just listen to the radio and that was okay too.
Now, Chris and I have many of our best conversations in the car. That’s mainly because Sprout has difficulty hearing us when the radio is on. While I love talking to my son, not being interrupted constantly with, “What did you say?” is refreshing. As the kids get older, I’m sure I’ll have more intense car conversations with them as well.
Verbally identifying favorite music when it comes on the radio
When I was a little kid, I sincerely believed that my dad knew every song ever recorded. After all, he recognized every song that came on the radio or the speaker system at the mall. It didn’t occur to me that all of those songs were from a 20 year time span from the late 60s to the early 80s. Every time, he would say, “Hey, this is a great song!” More often than not, he would follow that up with a bit of semi-obscure trivia like “Did you know that Blue Oyster Cult’s original name was Soft White Underbelly?” (I know he’ll love this article from Rolling Stone.) These days, I hear myself saying, “Hey, this is a great song!” to my kids on a regular basis. I’m sure I’ll start throwing in trivia sooner rather than later.
Love of old fashioned newspapers
Even in this day and age, my dad regularly reads the paper. Often out loud to you. Even if it’s an article you’ve already read yourself. But you know what? So do I. After not getting the paper for years, I recently started subscribing to the Sunday edition (plus digital archives) of the Washington Post. When I actually find the time, I really enjoy sitting down with the physical paper, from the advice column to the comics. The regular presence of the paper in my childhood home definitely helped inspire my personal and professional love of journalism.
Being extremely enthusiastic about “treasures” from nature
Whenever we would take a hike, my dad would always manage to find a vaguely sharp rock and declare “it’s an arrowhead!” (I believe he’s already pulled this with my children as well.) While I tend more on the side of accuracy, I do get inordinately excited about rather mundane things. I have sincerely declared rocks, moss, trees, and bugs “so cool!” to my kids.
And then there’s the less obvious but deeper things: more of a tendency to think before I speak than I used to have, more flexibility in conflict, a willingness to give people the benefit of the doubt. In many wonderful ways, I am my father’s daughter.
Happy Fathers’ Day, Dad!