Today my dad turns 59! I am a “Daddy’s girl” and always will be. When I say ”a daddy’s girl” I don’t mean that he spoiled me and gave me everything I wanted. I have always admired and looked up to him. As far back as I can remember, I loved following him around watching and learning from him. For 32 years, he has helped me evolve into the person I am today. Feel free to send him comments, complaints, and/or suggestions about my behavior. Over the years, my dad has taught me some very important lessons that I would like to share with you.
Lesson #1 Tractor Driving- When I was younger, Dad needed someone to drive the tractor in the hayfield. The lesson I received; “Here’s the brake, clutch, and throttle. Let’s go” That’s it! Mind you there was a baler and wagon hitched up. My sister was given a similar lesson. Although we might not be champion tractor drivers, we are qualified operators.
Lesson #2 There are Plenty of Fish in the Sea- After a boyfriend and I broke up, Dad talked to me about it on the way to school. He didn’t say “You’re better off” or any other stereotypical responses. He simply said “There will be others” He was right.
Lesson #3 There’s Always Two Sides- This is a lesson I still struggle with. Even if he doesn’t agree with the other point of view, my dad can “see” it. This summer he reminded me to look at the other side, when my 9.5ft. inflatable dinosaur came to live with us. He tactfully pointed out that just maybe Josh didn’t find the dino as funny as I did. And because of that reminder, Josh and I had one of the best arguments of our marriage. If you need a refresher – http://thenuttybrowns.wordpress.com/2012/08/14/rwar-means-i-love-you-dino-style/
Lesson #4 Canoeing I usually tell people “Under no circumstances should you go canoeing with Dad”. As a birthday gift, I would like to add an amendment to this rule. Just avoid canoeing with Dad while the river is in flood stage or if you don’t want a swim. Canoeing has always (ok not always, let’s say mostly) been therapeutic for Dad and me. Before I would head back to college in Florida or if there was something bothering us, we would go canoeing. I cherish those times with Dad. We both have a way of putting on what our family lovingly calls “the Bailes Blinders” when there is a big problem or something sad. While canoeing, we don’t talk directly about the issue at hand, but we talk about good memories and wildlife and nature we see along the way. By the time we get back to the house, all is right with the world.
Lesson #5 Electricity- For those of you who know Dad, you know the following statement is very scary. All I know about electrical work in a house, I learned from my dad. When Heather and I were little, he would have us hold the flashlight as he worked on the breaker box. On one particular occasion, Dad said to us “If Daddy lights up don’t touch him. Go get Mommy.” So who needs an electrician?
Lesson # 6 Stubbornness- The hayfield tends to bring out the stubbornness in the Bailes Clan. It’s always a good time. One day he told Heather and me, that he had it all under control and would not let us come out to the field. Heather and I did not find this acceptable. We got Granddad’s old green truck. Neither Heather nor I were very good at driving a stick, so we teamed up. There was Dad with the tractor and wagon loading hay (yes just him driving and loading hay bales at the same time) on one side of the field. And there was Heather and I, on the other side, one operating the steering wheel and clutch and the other shifting and operating the radio. Both of us loading hay on the back of the truck. We were pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.
Another time, it was just Dad and I out in the field. We both were hot and tired. On the way back to the barn with a wagon loaded down with hay we hit a ground-hog hole and dumped the entire load. I was furious and started throwing bales back on the wagon. Dad said to take a break. I didn’t. So he sat down in the shade and refused to move, until I took a break too. In the end, he won the stubborn war and eventually the hay got loaded back on the wagon and taken to the barn.
Lesson # 7 Laugh at yourself- In high school I was upset with a friend. I wrote an email venting to a different friend and accidentally sent it to the one I was upset with. I wasn’t happy with myself. Dad was in the kitchen and asked what was wrong. I sat down in the hall and told him. Did he say “It will be ok”? No! Did he say “We all make mistakes?” No! He sat down with me and laughed. Before long I was laughing too. I learned you can laugh or you can cry and laughing is the better option.
Lesson #8 Hunting/Gun Safety- Many years ago Dad took Heather and I squirrel hunting. This was our first hunting adventure. Heather and I made as much noise as possible. We both learned shooting non-living things such as cans was way better. But the best lesson wasn’t directly taught to me. Being a witness to this one was way better. My cousin was visiting and we were shooting cans. My cousin picked up the double barrel shot-gun and asked “Do I pull both triggers at the say time?” Dad’s response “Sure” Lesson learned.
Lesson #9 Bug are food not friends- Most of you know Dad has a sophisticated pallet. Growing up we were expected to try everything at least once. Thanks to this rule I have eaten the following but not limited to – ground-hog, squirrel (the same one from our hunting adventure), rattlesnake (road killed by dad that a story for another day), bear, bison, turtle, frog legs, rabbit, snails, caviar, and cicadas (bugs). I now have the same rule for my kids although the list of items they are expected to try are far more normal. Things like asparagus, shrimp, onions, green peppers, etc.
Lesson #10 Life is an adventure- My Dad decided he wanted to teach outside of the U.S. So he and mom left for a year of teaching abroad. First they went to Taiwan. That was a little nerve racking for my sister and me. Taiwain was not playing well with others at the time. And then there was the crazy boss who took mom’s passport and other import documents. Dad retrieved these items and instead of heading home like I would have, they went to American Samoa to finish out their year. They had a wonderful adventure and I am glad they followed their dreams.
Dad, Thank-you for all you have taught me. Your unconditional love and crazy ways are just two things I love most about you. And all though I’m a little unnerved when I am told by people I remind them of a bald crazy man, I take it as a huge compliment. I kin ye!
(Note: The phrase “I kin ye” comes from the book Education of Little Tree. Dad recommended I read it and it is one of my all time favorite books. “I kin ye” means “I love and understand you”)32