When I was a little girl my dad used to take me to 7-Eleven every Sunday morning. He would put the radio on and find his favorite oldies station where he sang the words to every single song. My dad used to sing like there was no one else in the car and I watched on as he continued driving with a constant smile on his face.
He would get a cup of coffee and tell me to pick any kind of Slurpee I wanted. We did this almost every weekend that I can remember. We’d drive home with him sipping on his hot drink and me half digging at my Slurpee and half drinking it. Sometimes he’d take me on a detour and say, “Meg, Meg. Let me show you something really cool.” We’d inevitably end up at some random place in town where he’d tell me some random story about how he met this person and knew that person. Our brief weekend trip to the gas station turned in to a life lesson and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Now that I’m a mother, I find myself saying and doing many of these same things with my children.
Like today for example, my kids and I were driving home from getting haircuts and I saw Krispy Kreme out my window. I decided to take a detour and get a dozen donuts because, well, why not? I could have listed the many reasons we didn’t need to stop or couldn’t stop but I decided to put my blinker on before I had time to think too much about it. The result was a car full of happy kids, breakfast already done for tomorrow, and a mom who couldn’t help but smile when she thought about how her dad would have done the same thing.
I’ve made some fun memories with my kids, too. Every year in gearing up for Father’s Day, I take my kids to the store and tell them to pick out something that reminds them of their dad. I think I get more enjoyment out of this than anyone else. Last year, my 3-year-old picked out a back scratcher and said matter-of-factly, “Dad’s always wanted one of these!”
“He has?” I thought. “Huh. Okay.”
I give the kids a few dollars each and tell them to think really hard about what daddy would like. The excitement builds and builds as the big day approaches and the kids try their hardest not tell dad what they got him. I let each one wrap their own gifts and I buy extra tape just for this occasion because I know they will use more than they need and for this one time only, I don’t say a thing.
As I get older, I see the parallels in parenting between my dad and I. I tell him every year how much he means to me and how I know without a doubt that I am the luckiest girl in the world. Since my dad lives on the east coast and I live in the Midwest, I try and do things with my kids that I know he would do with me.
I run through the Starbucks drive thru and grab a coffee because that’s something he would do. I run my car through the car wash just because – he would do that too. I make a random stop at a friend’s house unannounced just to tell them hello because that’s a trademark of my dad. I see how many conversations I can strike up with strangers because I like to pretend I can meet more new people than my dad. My most favorite thing of all, though? I say funny things to my kids so they know to say it back. Like, “See you later alligator. In a while crocodile.” I almost always try the piece of fudge I’m offered at a store because my dad never passes up a sweet and I never say no to Root Beer or Cream Soda because those are his favorites.
I can’t wait to see my dad again. But for now, I can say, Happy Father’s Day to the best dad in the whole wide world.