A baker’s dozen of lessons learned and taught

Learning concept (Photo Courtesy Big Stock)

Learning concept (Photo Courtesy Big Stock)

Thirteen years isn’t a long time in the grand scheme of the universe but in the life of a dad, it’s a relative eon. I’ve been someone’s dad for that long now, a baker’s dozen worth of years, and while I’m still learning lessons about what it means to be a father, husband and a man, there are some lessons I’m prepared to teach my daughters right now, and some they are teaching me in return.

Here are 13 of those lessons in total, a yin and yang batch of collected wisdom from a dad and his tween & teen daughters.

1) Take every opportunity you get to travel the world, to explore the various cultures, lifestyles, foods and people of different countries. Do this to resist the dangerous nationalism and exceptionalism sweeping our country these days, but…

2) Also stay curious about our native lands, it’s many wonderful diverse communities, natural wonders and vibrant cities. Europe, South America, Asia and Africa can be exotic, no doubt, and you should spend time exploring each, but don’t sleep on the marvels that await right here in America.

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3) When you can, go ahead and spend the extra buck or two to buy local. Try to seize every opportunity to support, champion and speak highly of the small businesses in your own hometown and across the globe as you travel because it is those shops, restaurants, pharmacies and local family-owned treasures that make each place unique and special, but…

4) It’s totally okay to love walking the aisles of Target and enjoy the ease of shopping on Amazon too.

5) Please do your best to take care of others. Go out of your way to never intentionally make anyone’s life more difficult as a result of your actions or inaction, but…

6) Be mindful of yourself and your own limitations. In short, take care of yourself so that you are in a position to take care of others, just as the flight attendants instruct in the case of a loss of cabin pressure 🙂

7) Expect and demand to be treated with respect by those fortunate enough to spend quality time with you, reciprocate that same respect, and…

8) If and when you bring boys home, I’ll model the behavior I expect of others and will never play the hideous role of overbearing protector. There will be no threatening boys with guns or scary, weirdly possessive, intimidating conversations.

9) Respect the musicians, actors, playwrights, painters and other artists whose work you fall in love with, whose work will change the course of your life in tiny but important measures, but…

10) Stop short of idolizing those artists for creating that work. They are, at the end of the day, just people too, like you and me and your mom, people with their own flaws, problems, talents, and demons.

11) There are a million ways to define ‘success’. While making a million dollars is what society as a whole, and maybe a lot of your friends, might call ‘success’, that may not be what matters most to you. Find your own definition because you never have to chase down someone else’s dream.

12) It’s October 2017 as I write all this and the patriarchy unfortunately still exists. It fills me with rage to imagine any of this happening to you, but it is likely that as you venture out into the world, you may suffer injustice, harassment, and assault. Please know, and never doubt for a moment, that I will always believe you and that I will always stand beside you, with a hammer in my hand, to help you smash the patriarchy and any glass ceiling you find yourself beneath.

13) As Jason Isbell, a musician I respect, sings on his new album, “find something you love to do, a song to sing or a tale to tell, just find what makes you happy, girl, and do it ’til your gone. Something to love will serve you will.” I couldn’t say it or certainly sing it, any better. Some of the days ahead of you will be challenging and at times, you may want to give up, but if you have found something you love to do, it will absolutely serve you well. I know because I have found a love of being your dad. Doing that every single day for the past 13+ years has kept me going even during the darkest of times.

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