Well, it’s Fathers’ Day. My own dad passed away 14 years ago, next month, so this day is always a little bittersweet. I pointedly try to make this holiday only about the father of my daughter, but, I gotta admit, it’s a little tough to keep out the sadness entirely.
This morning, as I made pancakes for my husband’s LET’S SURPRISE DADDY WITH BREAKFAST IN BED!, I was overwhelmed by a memory of an evening when I was a teenage girl. On the very rare occasion that my mom was not at home for dinner, my dad would make Breakfast Dinner. Usually, he made his signature, pan-sized disk of an omelet – an inch-thick round slab of overcooked egg and cheddar, in the EXACT shape and size of our non-stick pan – but on this particular night, he was making pancakes. I sat on the counter in the kitchen watching him, his left hand on his jutted-out hip, his right holding the spatula. He told me a story about “this one fella” who worked breakfast mess duty in my dad’s Army Company in World War II. He described how this guy would pour the batter into the pan, let it cook awhile, flip it, and then SMASH down the pancake until it was as thin as possible. He described the SMASH with total disbelief and horror, turning down the corners of his mouth and shaking his head. I couldn’t help giggling. My dad was actually offended at this man’s deplorable mistreatment of the poor pancakes. He told me how he tried to gently instruct his fellow infantryman about the delicate chemical reactions between eggs, baking powder and heat, and how his strong-arming of the spatula was killing the fluffy soul of each pancake, but his advice fell on deaf, pig-headed ears. The flapjack squisher continued his reign of terror, and, almost forty years later, Tom Price was still telling the tale with all the raw emotion of his 18 year old self.
In my dad’s mind, as in his daughter’s today, there really IS a right way and a wrong way to do things. Put simply, in many, if not most situations in this life, right is right and wrong is wrong. Of course, my “right” may not be your “right,” and, you know what? We don’t all have to agree. Get clear on your own values and then, yes, IMPOSE those values on your children – it’s called parenting. I’m sure some politically-correct, morally-suspect pundit will give me an earful about letting my three-year-old child discover all of the many religions, schools of thought and possible life choices out there, but I respectfully disagree. My daughter will have her chance to listen, weigh the options and then agree or disagree with me when she’s older. For now, my job is to model my version of how she can live her best life.
Today, I will teach her as my father taught me – to show some respect for the pancakes.