I have yet to write about the lessons my father has etched onto my heart and mind because, well, there are so many that I get overwhelmed with the task and then just say, “Forget it!”
So, please keep in mind that these are just a very, very select few of the lessons from David Thomas Allen Ferrick to his eldest daughter.
Lesson #1: Parenthood is less about quantity of time and more about quality of time
Yes, kids need parents to be around to make sure they get their lunch packed and hair brushed every day. Yes, parenthood is about consistency and “continuity of care.” (health care talk coming out!)
My father was not around a whole bunch when I was younger due to extraneous circumstances that don’t need to be discussed here.
However, the QUALITY of the time I spent with him was untouchable. His ability to impact (and continue to impact) my life heavily in the (relatively)short times I am with him.
This gives me great peace when I leave my house Monday through Friday and leave my son behind. I know that my relationship with my son is more about how we spend time together than how much we spend time together.
Lesson #2: Do what you love and the money will follow
My father has always been ambitious (understatement of the century), but his ambition has seldom been monetarily driven. Having said that, my father makes good money. Great money. However, it’s because he’s great at what he does. And he is great at what he does because he loves what he does. Ergo, using basic rules of logic (if a=b and b=c then a=c), love what you do = make it rain.
Lesson #3: Who you are today is not who you were yesterday and is not who you are going to be tomorrow
Simply put: people change. And change is good. Change is growth. Don’t stop growing.
And, by extension…
Lesson #3(a): Grudges are stupid and a waste of time in the long run
Lesson #3(b): Don’t hold onto the past or let past decisions/regrets define your today
Lesson #3(c): Who you are today and who you want to be in the future are NOT inconsistent anomalies
Lesson #4: Do not light a spider on fire that is on a web. This will cause both the web and your palm trees to instantly ignite into flames.
Lesson #5: Vacations aren’t for relaxing. They are for jamming in as much walking in the heat to see really old buildings (or where buildings used to be) in a 24 hour period as possible.
My dad is simply a busy, constantly engaged guy and he is never un-busy. That’s why in Italy my pre-teen sister and I begrudgingly followed our father and step-mother around sweltering heat and humidity from sun-up to sun-down in too many ancient cities. Then, it was 60% awesome and 40% what could only be interpreted as manual labor.
Now I realize that it was 100% awesome and I can only hope that I can take my kids on my very own Bataan Death March in Rome while telling them that they’ll appreciate me for it someday.
Lesson #6: You don’t need more than one small carry-on suitcase and one backpack to travel anywhere, for any period of time.
Waiting for luggage is for heathens and the lazy.
Lesson #7: You can get out of a speeding ticket and illegal u-turn charges by paying your seven-year old to act like she’s really sick
And by extension…
Lesson #7(a): Waiting in traffic is for heathens and the lazy.
Lesson #8: My dad loves me the best.
And by extension…
Lesson #8(a): Being an excellent parent requires making each child feel like they’re loved the most, when in fact, you’re all tied.
Lesson #9: Don’t be a mindless consumer / victim of the marketing world.
We were in a grocery store. I can’t remember how old I was, but I remember I was sitting in the cart front, so I couldn’t have been older than five years old.
I was complaining going down the frozen food aisle that I wanted a TV dinner.
He must have gotten annoyed, but instead of just telling me to be quiet or to stop whining he just stopped the cart and pulled out a TV dinner.
He pointed to the cartoon penguin on the front of the box smiling and waving to my cute five-year-old self.
“THAT,” he said, “is why you want this TV dinner. Does the food really look delicious? It looks gross. The people who make these TV dinners put mediocre food into a package and slap a cartoon on the front and all of a sudden I am a bad father for not giving my child a dinner that comes in a cardboard box.”
I remember getting really quiet and really digesting (no pun intended) what he had said. He was right! I never looked at Happy Meals the same.
And I will always appreciate that my dad, regardless of my age, never stooped to cliché parent-isms of “because I said so” or “I’m the parent and you’re the child.” He just spoke the truth. And it worked.
Lesson #10 (just because 10 is a good number for a list): “Everyone just wants to go home and have dinner with their families.”
Just after September 11th happened I, like many of my young peers, became instantly globally aware of the eminent dangers that were looming constantly over our nation and our lives. It scared the heck out of me! My dad just sat me down and said calmly and honestly (he always spoke 100% honestly), “Yes, Kaitlin there are a lot of people in this world who wish to do a lot of harm. But, I always think that at the end of the day everyone just wants to go home and have dinner with their families.”
I don’t know quite why, but that gave me such peace that night. The conversation has certainly stuck with me.
My dad always had the ability to talk me down off a mental cliff.
My father ALWAYS appreciates my opinion, listens to my rants/raves, honors my decisions, and treats me like an adult. When we disagree it is more about how to derive at a practical solution instead of a battle of right vs. wrong. He listens to me. He has never judged me. I am never afraid to tell him anything or talk to him about anything.
In conclusion, my dad is cooler than your dad.