So, when was the first time you realized you could beat your dad at something? Anything? I mean really beat him and not because he let you win, but because you had grown up enough that your skill level had surpassed his.
How old were you before you thought you could take him if you had to? Sixteen? Twenty-four? Fifty? Did he have to be in a wheelchair first?
As boys, those of us lucky enough to have father’s in our lives are constantly using the Old Man as a measuring stick to evaluate our own growth. At some point, you realize that the list of things that dad does better than you is getting shorter. But no matter how short that list gets, does it every really disappear? There are so many things that I will never do better than my father. Tune an engine. Follow a schematic. Bluff with a busted flush.
These days, I seem to be working harder to keep my list of things I do better than my children from vanishing entirely. Suddenly they grew up to be competent and able and smart and really strong people.
When did that happen?
However, occasionally, on days like Father’s Day, I am reminded that I am still comparing myself to my father and coming up short. I remember him, sick as a dog, ill from a stomach issue, building a pool in the summer heat of Texas because I whined about wanting it. Helping me buy my first car. Taking me to the hospital when I wrecked it. Patiently explaining, again, the need to turn off the breaker before you work on electricity.
I look back at those days and know I’m not doing half as good a job as he still does. I snap at my kids too often. I have to call a tow truck instead of showing my son how to tear down an engine block and replace a timing chain or repair the brakes. The list of things I do better than they is growing shorter daily.
So maybe, instead of asking what would John Wayne do, I should be asking instead:
What would Dad do?