Andy Taylor, Bill Cosby, and (Saints preserve us) Me.

Please welcome guest blogger, Jesse Dyer, husband of our Giveaway and Freebie columnist Cindy Dyer! I have put out requests for dad contributions here at the Mom Squad, and Jesse promptly stepped up to the plate! I’ll occasionally feature more columns from dads on fatherhood, and society in general.  Contact us if you’d like to contribute a guest column!

——————————————————————–

I had a dream.

I dreamed that I was sitting on a big front porch, talking with Heathcliff Huxtable and Andy Taylor, and they were telling me what a terrible father I was.

If you don’t know, Heathcliff Huxtable is the name of the dad from The Cosby Show, and Andy Taylor is Andy Griffith’s character in The Andy Griffith Show, although how you could be a Mom or Dad these days and not know of these two characters is beyond me. If you don’t know, this dream won’t mean much to you, and I’m sorry. I watched more TV than you did.

Anyway, Andy looks me over and says, shaking his head, “Boy, you are just sorry. Soooooorry!”Cosby Show

Heathcliff chimes in, “Yes sir, I’d have to say so also, yes I would.”

“Why?” I ask.

“I seem to recall,” Andy says, “that your oldest boy, oldest of four children, doesn’t know how to skip a stone, and you’ve never even taken him fishin.”

“You got that right,” Heathcliff says, “and you seem to put more into being a worker than a father, working on those computers and softwares or whatever it is you do.”

“I’m a software developer,” I say sheepishly, “and I keep meaning to get the boys out more often, it’s just hard to find the time.”

“Son, I was a doctor, and I had time for my kids.” Heathcliff says.

“You think I was just overloaded with free time, what with bein a sheriff and all?” says Andy.

I think about this for a second. Then I come back with, “Well, actually, Andy, I do.”

“Pardon me?”

I stand up and look over these two men who were, to me, Super Dads. Doctor Huxtable was the last of the good TV Dads; after that, we ended up with the like of Homer Simpson, Al Bundy from “Married.. with Children”, and heaven help us, Peter Griffin. The tube took a look at fathers around about 1990 or so, and decided that they were 450px-MayberryStatueall immoral, useless wrecks.

“First of all, you both are characters. Not real. No way does anyone in the positions you supposedly held has the kind of free time you’re pictured to have.

“Secondly, I do spend a lot of time with my kids. I may not have gotten out fishing yet, but they’re still small, and I do spend time doing the most important thing a father can do with his children.”

“And that would be?” Andy asks, drawling the sentence out a mile and a half.

“Talking. I think of my Dad, and while I can remember a few of the things we did together, the most important things we did, the things that stick with me the most, are talks. Maybe you did it outside more than I do, Andy, and maybe you did it funnier than I can, Cliff, but I do it, and I do it a lot.

“I teach my kids about everything and anything. I make sure my kids know that I love them. I’m silly with them, and I play with them. It may not be as much as you seemed to do, but you’re both fake, anyway.

“And besides, you weren’t perfect. Cliff, you were so henpecked that it’s amazing your kids had any respect for you at all. Andy, you made all kinds of mistakes with Opie in matters of trust, your attitude towards women, and while you always came up ahead by the end of things, it was purely by the grace of God. Or at least the writers.

“So don’t either one of you look at me like I’m some kind of failure. I’m the kind of Dad I’d have wanted, and that’s enough.”

I wake up, and realize that I answered a guilty feeling that had been plaguing me as a father. I don’t have to measure up to whatever mythical fathers I have felt inferior to, not even my own. I just have to be as good as I can be, and if my kids know I’m here for them, that’s enough. Little league, scouts, camping, soccer, all those things might be important, but it’s the talking that matters most to them.

It’s intimidating, knowing that you have little people learning to be themselves by emulating you. I see my sons walk and talk like me, and it scares me to death, but I don’t think about it too often. I just do the best I can.

I know that if I don’t, Andy and Cliff will haul me back onto the porch. They both love getting the last word in, after all.


Comments

  1. And btw, I _am_ taking him fishing and stone skipping as soon as it warms up. Hopefully not at the same time, but if so, in that order.

  2. As fathers, we really only have one true scale to measure ourselves against – our own dad. Assuming that we turned out ok, are we at least measuring up to what molded us and are we trying to do a better job?

    My dad used to take me fishing. I “kinda” enjoyed it when I was young (5-8) but I was usually ready to go home about 10 minutes after we started. This did not fit well with my dad’s plan to fishing most of the morning (or day) and usually made my day miserable. While I did learn how to fish to this day I hate fishing. So, was this a good experience? Maybe in the sense that when I actually do things with my boys, when they tire of doing it, I usually don’t make them keep doing it.

    So keep doing what you’re doing. The mere fact that it has been bothering you means you are trying to do it right.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing, Jesse! We moms AND dads beat ourselves up so much, don’t we!?

  4. I LOVED fishing with my dad. Girls may actually be better fishing partners than boys, because they’ll sit still longer. :0) I was a good fishergirl, but it drove my dad nuts when I caught bigger fish than he.