Sunday, June 15, 2008

Daddy—



According to the Wall Street Journal, modern children should count themselves as privileged if they have a father figure in the home. My father was certainly not perfect (who is?) but he was a man who did care about the welfare of his family. From my earliest recollection, he was interested in me, and did his best to provide for all our needs. When my stick horse lost its ability to entertain me, he built a sturdy saw horse and stuck the head at one end so I could grasp the reins and be off on myriad imaginary adventures, even if the horse was stationary.

From an early age, Daddy taught me how to identify and use the tools in his tool box and his workshop. I can read a rule, saw a board with a hand saw or a radial arm saw, and design and produce basic and intermediate furniture projects, due to his tutoring. He also taught me to mow a lawn, ride a tractor and a horse, and yes, how to ride a motorcycle. Although he did issue verbal instructions and tell stories, he also understood that imitation is a great teaching tool. He would straddle one motorcycle, and as I sat another one, he simply said, “Follow me and do as I do.” One of my cousins laughed at the way I set up for a curve when on two wheels. “Pam, you ride that Honda like a it was a Harley.” That makes some sense, in that Daddy was originally a Harley rider, and I learned my riding skills by watching every nuance of his technique.

Although he had little formal schooling, Daddy tried to help us with ours. He willingly built gadgets for science projects and even a minature version of “Uncle Remus’ Cabin” for an eighth grade Georgia history project. When I wanted to go to college rather than a trade school, Daddy didn’t really understand, but he helped with the bills, and I never left home without him asking if I needed some money to get through the week. He even rescued me when I had car trouble, and over the years I was in college and graduate school, he made many trips to the mountains, with a tool box and a lot of skills not taught at either Piedmont or North Georgia College.

Later, he passed on parenting skills. “Pam, those children are smart. Don’t just tell them what to do, explain it.” Hubby and I differ on that point sometimes, but I do think that when students or my children know why I make the decisions I make, it is easier for them to be motivated. I use this when I teach and when I parent.

Daddy is gone, but not forgotten. Never.

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