Fathers and Sons

What Fathers Day means to me and how my dad helped shape me as both a parent and a good man.

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IMG_0347When Father’s Day comes around, I instantly think of my dad and how he shaped me as a man. It’s as simple as that. While others celebrate your parenthood and try to give you rest and gifts, I always think of my dad and our interactions when I was growing up. Those interactions made me as strong as I am today. Without being overly stern or too soft, my dad taught me how to be a good guy and also be direct and blunt at the same time. My wicked sense of humor comes from my dad. My volume and the ability to take over a room with my voice comes from the old man. When you are given a good set of parents, it’s hard to mess up your relationship with them as you get older and take on responsibility.

When my son was born, I knew I was going to have to rely on my own instincts and abilities to make it work. It’s not impossible to be OWNED by a human being who stands up to your waist and doesn’t have to use a toilet yet. You have to be ready. It has been an interesting run and most of the time, I am coming up with a plan on the fly. Then again, I would be lying if I said I didn’t incorporate my own dad’s teaching when trying to discipline, protect and generally take care of my 2 year old son Vincent.

I am still close with my dad and that won’t change, which makes the idea of Fathers Day kind of trivial. I don’t need to have one day a year where I hang out and appreciate my dad. I do that pretty much on a weekly basis. That’s the way it should be. Only bad children disregard their parents when they get past the teenage years. Remember the next time you are embarrassed by your parents or don’t want them around that many kids are deprived of their parents at a young age or stripped of them at birth. Remember that thousands of children had their dad taken from them on 9/11. Remember the hundreds of thousands of parents fighting overseas and protecting our country on a daily basis who can’t be with their children.

When you don’t take advantage of a good chat with your mom or dad, there are few more sad things in life. When I am down and need a lift, I call my dad. I try to call him just for the hell of it and not just when I need help with a bill or a car repair. Good kids celebrate fathers day a lot more than just one day out of the year. That being said, call your parents more often. Trust me, they won’t get tired of hearing their kids filling them in on their lives.

IMG_1226In such a socially driven and fast moving world that we live in, small relationships like the ones with your parents can be fleeting. When you leave the house, the general idea is to find your own way and pay for your own stuff. That doesn’t mean forget that your parents exist. I have seen too many friends and strangers act like their parents exist as the bane of their existence. It’s so unfortunate. Sure, there are millions of bad parents out there and thousands of others that simply never could adjust to caring for someone else. When my wife Rachel got pregnant, I knew I was going to be in for change. Serious change. Being in control and responsible for a living breathing smaller version of yourself is the tallest order in the world. That’s why it can be intimidating to look at the families where the mom and dad have 4-6 kids running around. I just don’t know how they do it. Vincent is enough for me and my wife. He is adorable, feisty, smart and stands as far away from practicality as possible. He is a hot mess 95 percent of the time and that puts my wife and I on our toes on a daily basis. Have you ever sat on a couch and thought, “where did the air inside my head go?” That’s a daily regime for parents who give a shit.

My dad gave a shit and worked his ass off to provide for my family. Along with my mother, they worked unkind shifts while my brother Bryan and I were growing up and did it for a future that we as kids couldn’t understand just yet. That’s honest work. Hard work. My dad convinced my mom to stay in nursing school. My dad put in a basketball hoop in the back alley of our house to keep Bryan and I moving. He did all this while working a tough job as a Radiology tech at Barnes Hospital, which involved shifts in the ER and mostly taking place overnight. He saw some horrible things at his job and didn’t bring it home. When my dad was stern, there was a good reason for it. My mom and dad busted their ass and did it for the family. Whenever I think about quitting as a dad or even get overcome, I remember what my dad did for me when he was probably dog shit tired and out of breath. That’s Fathers Day to me. Remembering the sacrifice they put forth in order to make my life better.

That pushes me every day. Working a job in a hot ass warehouse. Pushing my writing career by night. Doing it all so I can one day make good money and give my wife peace of mind and a son a big college fund. It may never happen but I push myself on a daily basis and that started with an installation of purpose from my dad. Watching him do it for so many years and seeing how well rounded I am makes me look back at him with thanks and appreciation.

When you hear me talk, you hear my dad shining through. My love for the movies comes straight from him. We went to a lot of shows when I was a kid, and he would answer my brother Bryan and mine’s questions after every single show. He taught me how to throw a baseball and probably came close to Tommy John Surgery playing catch with me. When I watched my dad pitch in softball, it was an event for me. My blunt opinions come from him and my sense of humor doesn’t drift too far from his either. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. It barely made it off the branch.

Please, call your parents. Tell them thanks. If they aren’t that good at being parents, remember this world isn’t easy to raise a kid in no matter what era or decade youIMG_1321 lived in. If they made mistakes, remember it’s probably because they were spiraling downward and couldn’t even save themselves. Learn to forgive on Fathers Day. Give your dad a call. I will stay close with my dad until the end because that’s the way it should be. He is my best friend and always my first call to hang out with as I sit here 32 years of age.

I may have collected Superman comic books as a kid and idolized Arnold Schwarzenegger growing up, but it’s clear who my hero is in my life. It’s my dad. Plain and simple.

Thanks for reading.

Author: D. Buffa

A regular guy who feels a journalistic hunger to tell the news. I blog because its wired into my brain to write what I think in print. I offer an opinion. A solo tour here. Take regular stories and offer my spin on them. Sports, film, television, music, fatherhood, culture, food, and so on. Commentary on everything. A St. Louis native and Little Rock resident who wants to write just to keep the hands fresh and ready.

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