Saturday, November 19, 2011

The parenting book I want to see

My expression at the thought
It's been a while since I wrote a "dad-bashing" entry.
Since my 88-year-old father moved into the Legacy Retirement facility in Taylorsville, there's been considerably less daily contact and he's moved from being the topic of the day in my mind to more of an occasional concern.
But Friday, he needed someone to drive him to the Veteran's Administration office to discuss his pension so we were riding along and talking.
"I think I'll write a parenting book," he announced. "I think there are things people need to understand."
I was dumbstruck.
Here was the man I try to forgive daily for ignoring his four children — including me — and he's thinking he did it right? He's thinking he has wisdom to share now?
I had no response for several minutes.
All the missed birthdays and holidays and special events he chose not to note flashed through my brain. I thought about how he cannot name my six children or more than a couple of his great-grandchildren.
I bit back some cryptic comments about comparing important golf dates to less important baptismal dates and christenings.
"The secret is to choose somebody with compatible goals," he added. "You have to agree on what you want for your children.
"I always tried to notice the positive and ignore the negative. That works," he said. "Look at how you all turned out."
I realize there's a backhand compliment in there somewhere but it still made me mad.
"Dad," I said. "You ignored us your whole life! What are you saying?"
He looked at me without any comprehension and went blissfully on, talking about cherishing and love and rewriting history before my eyes.
"You children were always my first priority," he concluded.
My goodness. Where was I this whole time?

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