Most of the time, my father was right …
Even if I didn’t realize it till later. Or much later.
Even if he took whatever it was more seriously than I thought it was worth.
But there was one time when he was just plain old wrong.
I was a teenager, and my job was to work in the family rental property over the summer. Didn’t get paid in money, but I got a boatload of new clothes come school time. At any rate, my friend was having a party at her place (her dad was an ATF agent, so there was just clean fun). I went to Dad a couple weeks ahead of time and got permission to go, and to drive two of my friends. They had been giving me free rides all over the place, so Dad complimented my desire not to be a mooch friend. Yes, he used the word mooch. He told me I could have the car for the night.
However, when the day arrived, it was also carpet-laying day in the rentals.
Dad had never laid carpet before, but he was confident.
Would we be done in time for me to still take my friends to the party?
He was sure we’d be done by early afternoon. Absolutely positive. Absolutely, absolutely positive.
This was summer, so it had been several weeks since we’d had any friend time like this. I was excited and talked Dad’s ear off about it all day. Probably drove him nuts, but he was a good sport.
But come about 3:00, it was clear we were not even going to be done in time for me to give my friends a ride to the party.
Could I go call my friends and tell them I couldn’t give them a ride? (Dating myself, here. It was days long before cell phones…I would have had to drive to the diner two blocks away and use a pay phone.)
Nope. He wouldn’t let me even do that.
I realize now, even more than I realized then, that it wasn’t really the sort of job you could leave in the middle. And I realize that Dad had overestimated himself on a job he’d never done before (and no YouTube to learn from).
And I realize now that he was (internally) frightened about what the failure of the rentals would do to the family finances.
However, he was in the wrong. When we FINALLY finished and got home, Mom told me my friends had called an hour earlier, and she told them they should go ahead to the party without me. I was so furious over ditching my friends that, in my self-righteousness, I stomped around the house like a crazy woman as I showered and got ready for the party.
He didn’t didn’t punish me for my attitude. He didn’t even say a word.
Don’t get me wrong, my Dad was a good man, a strong man.
But there was a reason why, even before this, if he said something would take a certain amount of time, I would double the time and add an hour. He was no good at time.
And there is a reason why now, at the age of 50, I want to have a writing career, yet I am afraid. If I get a contract, there will be a deadline on that contract. A legal deadline on that contract.
What if I misjudge my capabilities and agree to a deadline I can’t meet? I already mostly don’t meet—self-imposed deadlines. I am like my Dad in this way.
Yet, I am also like my Dad in another way. I will not make a decision out of fear. As he did when he purchased the rental property, I will follow my dreams.
I will learn the art of fiction writing, as he learned to lay carpet.
As Dad moved from idea to landlord, I am moving from hobbyist to “real” writer.
I will write. And, eventually, I will sign a writing contract. (traditional or self-published)
And … hopefully … I will meet said deadline.
PS … Also like my father, I will make—and be forgiven for—parenting mistakes.
Because LOVE. Right, Leah?