- A Different Deadbeat Dad

 

See this man?  I don’t know him, but I don’t like him either.

For several hours, for several days, I watched him do two things:  read newspapers and ignore his kid.  For several days I watched his son, a sprightly, energetic boy of about 9, dig in the sand and run left and right, to and fro (whatever they are) with a football on the beach as his father either read a newspaper or napped in a beach chair.  The boy tossed a football in the real air while imaginary football players, presumably on the other team, tried to tackle him.  All while his father sat his ass in a chair doing nothing other than read and sleep.

It took great restraint for me to not go to the boy and say, “Hey, throw.  Let’s play catch.”  All while his dad caught nothing but Z’s.  I was afraid that someone would find it weird for a 40-something guy to approach a 9-something boy to play.  It may have seemed like the right thing to do, but it wasn’t worth the risk. 

I know a dad is entitled to his vacation too, and if he wants to read, he’s allowed to read.  But it’s not difficult to find reading time on vacation.  Play with the kid, tire him out, and read while he falls asleep in front of the television or goes to bed early.  Parents are entitled to many things, but kids are entitled to more.  They didn’t ask to be born, and if you didn’t want or plan to have a kid, then give him up to one of thousands who would die for the chance to be a parent.

My father didn’t do everything right.  He wasn’t capable, didn’t know everything, and did what he knew.  I can’t fault him for that, even though I know way more without knowing why I know way more.  He never hugged me said he loved me, but he was there at 12:30 in the morning in 33-degree rain when I got out of work and my car wouldn’t start.  He was under the hood while I feebly aimed the flashlight like an AV geek and he replaced spark plugs or cleaned a carburetor.  He was in the street playing football with me and my friends while other dads were raking over the books and receipts.  He knelt in the street with a piece of chalk and showed me how to run a button hook, a down-and-out, or a fly, flag, or post pattern.  My friends thought he was the greatest dad ever, but I was convinced they were way off, falling for the “show” dad.  Sometimes they were right, sometimes wrong.  I didn’t know it at the time, but compared to the dads I see today, my friends were way more right than wrong.

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8 thoughts on “- A Different Deadbeat Dad

  1. Yes, I agree that Dads like this really give you perspective. I also have great parents. This is verging on neglect, I think. Whatever happened to supervision? Let alone bonding. Good for you for wanting to play with the kid.

  2. Yes! This brings back memories–some great childhood memories and some not so good ones from my former marriage. Most kids just value engaged time with their parents–many parents need to wake up, literally.

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