Captain Dad.

20 Jun

As he is every year, my dad is at Smith Mountain Lake for Father’s Day. It’s his favorite place to be, and in 62 days he will walk me down the aisle facing that very water and mountain that have been the backdrop of my childhood.  I’ve been lucky enough to see my mom the last two Mother’s Days, but since Father’s Day is usually trumped by high school graduations (and I teach the children), I rarely get to see my dad on his day. With all the changes happening so quickly in my life this summer (and some of them a bit scary), I am reminded of what is probably the most important lesson I learned from my dad:

Just because you don’t think you can, doesn’t mean you can’t.

When faced with things foreign to me, I either fake my way through until it makes sense, or hide in the corner. Do or do not: there is no try (thanks, Yoda). But there are some things you cannot fake. For example, driving a boat. Dad first taught me how to drive a car, but I never feared that–couldn’t get me behind the wheel fast enough. Dad, however, feared my lead foot during that first lesson in the high school parking lot. He also forgave me later when he discovered I was “practicing” without him. It was the dent in the cabinet in the garage that gave it away after an unfortunate forward/reverse mix-up. I misjudged how noticeable this incident was. Nothing like waking up to a good yelling at 7 a.m. on a Saturday (and Dad doesn’t yell).

But driving a boat was worlds different: there are no brakes. Make an error driving and you can slam on the brakes. Need to park on a windy day? No problem in a car. To make a boat stop, you have to carefully negotiate the wind and wake. Miscalculations lead to ramming your boat into the dock (or worse, other boats).  It was easy to steer a pontoon boat while Dad was still in the seat with me, but commandeering a speedboat by myself turned out to be a different beast. The subtleties of planing and weight shifting when people were on  board were difficult for me to grasp, though not impossible. But I started wanting to give up once we got to docking. “I can’t do this, Dad,” I used to exclaim in frustration. He then told me that when he first got the boat he didn’t know anything about docking, so he taught himself by coming up after work and practicing for hours at a time until he mastered it. “All it takes is enough seat time,” he said.

Whenever I get intimidated by tasks, I remember Dad’s words. Right now, I’m intimidated by selling or renting my house, and not having steady income at the end of August. By Tuesday, I hope to close my 7-year teaching chapter at Hanover (which will add more boxes), but this also leaves me time to focus on the beast that is my house. Just need a little more seat time. (Thanks, Dad)


One Response to “Captain Dad.”


  1. Mad Pen: a blog year in review « GOING SOFLO - June 24, 2011

    […] effectively, marriage is less compromise, more growth; spend Christmas in Virginia with my mom, dad, sister and family, Aaron’s parents, and our hometown […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: