Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The "Dad" in Me


If one looks very closely, in good light, there's no mistaking the mustache on my upper lip. I've never done anything to hide it, even taken comments from boys in High School with a sense of humor. My prom date's father said something about it on the big night, joking about mustaches and libido. But this story isn't really about the mustache that I have failed to hide. It's about wanting to name the uncomfortable feeling I sit with whenever I make bold statements to assert my power.

The Dad in me came out yesterday. I don't mean Dad as in my Husband "dad" but as in my father "Dad". The righteous, outspoken, non-negotiating authoritarian. Dad had lots of other gentle qualities but, for now, I'm talking about strength. The problem with this is that no one really responds the way I expect them to when I decide not to be so agreeable, complacent, so yielding and polite. So I sit here this morning worrying that I may have started an unnecessary war with two people whom I depend upon to assist me in educating and caring for my son---the teacher and my husband.

What is true strength? Is it knowing when to back down, let go, walk away? Or does life just require some real, face to face emotional engagement? Maybe I'm just bored and in need of drama. Here were the two issues that brought out the Dad in me yesterday:
A yellow dot in my son's planner. Yellow is not as bad as red, or purple, but the comment was that he was "making noises." The problem with this kind of communication with said teacher is that there has never been a single positive comment aside from "your child has shown improvement" on the report card. (Note the ommission of his first name.) I responded by writing "this space is also available for positive comments which you might make".

The second is related to a yearly problem we have with raccoons and possums visiting our back porch to snack on cat food and leave feces on my wicker furniture. Yesterday I heard our cat fighting with another animal (stray cat, racoon?) I was too chicken to watch. I sat there praying that I would not find kitty in the grass, wounded beyond recognition. An hour later, she came to the back door, intact. After this relief, the Dad in me came out. Why hasn't this problem been resolved in five years? Isn't this a "husband" job? What has prevented him from devising something to keep the wildlife out of the porch?

Perhaps it's time for the Dad in me to figure out how to use power tools.

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