Some fatherly advice

Me, my father and my kid sister. Cutest bald head you will ever see!
Me, my father and my kid sister. Cutest bald head you will ever see!

Happy Father’s Day! Yes, today is the nation’s “day of dad,” the one day we formally tolerate their contributions to our lives.

I do have a father. He is pretty neat, mostly because he is the only person who reads this blog on a regular basis. To mark the occasion of this being the 21st annual Father’s Day he can celebrate being an actual, real-life father, I thought I would compile some of the best/worst/strangest advice he has given me over the years. Note—follow this advice at your own risk. I like to think I turned out okay, but you never know.  

1.  It’s just math!

My dad likes to point out the ways math is important in daily life. Yes, he actually does prove every math teacher I’ve ever had correct.

The year after I took geometry, my father built a shed in our backyard. He thought it was interesting to apply what I had learned in class and explain the Pythagorean Theorem and why triangles are the strongest shape and blah blah blah.

When I was 15 and learning to drive on the interstate, he would calculate aloud things like how long it would take us to pass a semi truck. “If a semi is XX feet long traveling at XX mph, and we are going X mph faster than them, then we will pass them in XX fractions of an hour, which equates to XX minutes, or XX seconds.” (I wasn’t really listening, as my eyes were as big as saucers and my white knuckles were tightly gripping the steering wheel.)

His most maddening use of math is in regards to health and weight loss. “It’s just math!” he exclaims. “Calories in + calories burned = weight gain or loss.” To him, a man, metabolism speed or type of food doesn’t matter. It’s just math. It is maddening, especially to me, an emotional girl who tends to stress eat Hot Tamales.

2. Know how to fix things.

Or know somebody who does. (I fall into the latter category.)

3. If you don’t meet your husband in college, you will probably be alone forever.

Yes, this was said to me. It goes back to No. 1—math. He argues that statistically speaking, college is a time when you will be around a large percentage of people with the same ideas, thoughts, socioeconomic status, values and goals as you. And, roughly half of them will be of the opposite sex. (Unless you go to Creighton.)

I get what he means, and I understand. However, I  choose to be optimistically opposed to this. I will soon be entering my senior year of college, and if his words are true, I am nearing crazy cat lady territory. (But would that really be so bad?)

He also says I need to get over my height issues, but whatever. It’s a work in progress.

4. Chocolate chip cookies are acceptable breakfast food. 

After all, they are basically pancakes. You would think this would contradict “It’s just math,” but dad is as trim and fit as ever. (“Whatever,” she said, rolling her eyes in disdain.)

5. No drinking, no drugs, no sex.

This is pretty self-explanatory. It was the maxim of my high school years. However, my parent’s really shouldn’t have been worried, as my usual Friday night plans generally involved watching Nightline and/or 48 Hours Mysteries and eating pretzels. My Friday evening routine may or may not have changed in college. Hint: it didn’t.

Also add to this category: Go to class; Don’t be the DGAP; Never wear penis-shaped accessories, not even during a bachelorette party; Don’t get pregnant. All sound advice!

6. Water weighs eight pounds per gallon.

Technically, it weighs 8.34 pounds per gallon, but close enough. He taught be this because I was whining one day. (Shocker, right?) One spring we planted a pine sapling that had been given to every kid in my class from the Arbor Day Foundation. It was my tree, so I was charged with keeping it alive during the long, hot summer.

Every day I had to water the tree and with two five-gallon buckets full of water. Once when I was whining about how heavy it was impossible to carry them both at once, he said of course it was! He then explained that ten gallons of water weighs eighty pounds, and that as a fourth grader I barely weighed that. I then learned the whole 8 lbs/gal thing, a piece of trivia that has served me well over the years.

7. It doesn’t take a lot to show people you appreciate them.

A small gesture can goes a long way. Always, always, always write a thank you note or send a kind email, just because. Pick up the tab; bring treats to a meeting; offer to drive. It’s just the nice thing to do.

8. Being smart is cool.

When I was in 9th grade, our family attended a wedding in Hawaii. Before we went (or was it after?) my father made my kid sister and I watch the film “Tora, Tora, Tora,” a 1970s black and white 144 minute movie about the Pearl Harbor attacks.

If you were wondering, 144 minutes translates to 2.4 hours. Take into account that it was half in Japanese. Yes, it was painfully long. Yes, it was boring. However, it was a wonderful film that put the attacks into perspective for my pea-sized 14-year-old brain.

I have seen a number of films like this, including the German-language “Das Boot” about German u-boats in WWII. I have learned a lot thanks to his insistence and unrelenting love of knowledge. And now I pay lots of money to go see artsy, foreign-language films. Thanks for the culture, dad!


My dad and I on our recent trip to San Diego.
My dad and I on our recent trip to San Diego.

Lest you think my dad is a genius, know that he did use to wrap duct tape around my thumbs to prevent me getting blisters while mowing the lawn.  While he may not be a genius, he knows a lot of things others don’t, like how to put up with my never-ending obnoxious stream-of-consciousness-spoken-aloud thought process.  He knows to always answer my phone calls and how to talk me down from one of my neurotic near-breakdowns. He listens to me cry and knows when to tell me that I’m being stupid (which generally makes me cry more because I know he is correct).

My father and I are similar in that we both like NPR but hate “A Prairie Home Companion,” and jam out to The Who, The Clash and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.  We are dissimilar on many, many levels I don’t wish to get into here (i.e. gun control).  Let’s just say that we never have a boring diner conversation.  He has given me many things, like my Cabela’s hat (the good), my horrible penmanship (the bad) and the genes that led to my scoliosis (the ugly).

So, thank you, father. Have a nice day. (And let’s face it—without me there to bug you every five minutes, you will probably have a relaxing Sunday.)



Note: this post was partly inspired by this.


7 thoughts on “Some fatherly advice

  1. Delphine brandt June 16, 2013 / 11:10 AM

    And if you find that “potential” husband material …the rule to marrie him is that he has to be taller, smarter, nicer than your dad ….good luck with that 😉

  2. Gary June 16, 2013 / 7:37 PM

    Thanks for the post. I see you were listening some. I know that my true reward for fatherhood is watching my girls become ladies. I am very proud of you.

    BTW – don’t ever let your dad get you mad by baiting you about gun control – even though I am right.


  3. Roz June 24, 2013 / 10:11 PM

    I realize that I read this excellent post about a week too late, but I love this! Go Mr. Brandt, except for the finding-a-husband-in-college thing. If that’s true, I’d better start buying those cats.

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