My parents’ divorce was finalized when I was nine years old. The court awarded custody to my sweet mother, which was a good thing, because my dad didn’t have his “ish” together (this link is worth the read for old and new readers of this site). What I didn’t know then was that drugs, alcohol, and womanizing was destroying his life. I have only interacted with him a few times in the 32 years since.
My mom did the best she could raising two sons and a daughter, but there are certain things that only a father can do to raise his sons to manhood. I think we did alright. My mom taught me how to cherish women for the gifts from God that they are. She also taught me how not to follow his example. As a result, I’ve turned into the type of dad that he wasn’t. There are things I missed out on that fathers typically teach their sons. He wasn’t there to talk to me about girls. He wasn’t there to teach me how to barbecue. He wasn’t there during the chaos of my adolescence. The one thing he did teach me was how not to be the type of man that he turned out to be. For that, I am eternally grateful. This is why I take every opportunity to teach my sons and daughter when I can. One such opportunity occurred earlier today.
My old Ford F -150 started acting up last weekend. I taught myself how to do minor repairs several years ago. He wasn’t there to teach me when I was a boy. For years, I was intimidated by auto repair. Even though I’m a pretty smart guy, I was always afraid to mess with my ride. However, I overcame that fear and don’t hesitate to jump under the hood.
I brought my oldest son out with me when I started this repair. We had to check Cylinder #2 because it was misfiring. Since I gave the “old girl” – that’s what I call my truck- a tune-up recently, I figured it had to be the ignition coil. Simple repair. Right up my alley.
After I explained what I thought the problem was, The Boy was surprised when I handed him the socket wrench and told him to get to it. He gave me his obligatory grumbling and complaining and got to work. I walked him through each step of removing the coil and replacing the spark plug (just for good measure). He then replaced and reconnected the coil. I reconnected the battery and we started the “old girl” up. Success!
After a quick test drive, he asked. “Dad, do you really think this is fun?” I answered, “Yeah, I think its fun. More importantly, we got to spend this time together and you learned something new. Now jump on Facebook and brag to your friends that YOU just fixed your dad’s truck”.
I think we reinforced something more than him learning how to replace an ignition coil. He was reminded that his dad is always here for him, teaching and loving him in every situation. This is the lesson my dad failed to teach me. Fortunately, I learned it anyway.
“Dear Mr. Man”