Tue | Jul 23, 2024

Tony Deyal | It’s trad dad

Published:Saturday | June 15, 2024 | 12:05 AM

I went to a seafood disco last week – I pulled a mussel! I ordered a chicken and an egg from Amazon - I’ll let you know which one arrives first. Every time I take my dog to the park, the ducks try to bite him – that’s what I get for buying a pure-bread dog. To the person who stole my copy of Microsoft Office, I will find you – you have my word. These jokes are from a poll which found that the sense of humour of fathers is one of the things that our children love about us. You can take my word and experience for that.

While the second-most loved quality about fathers is our hugs, we are also loved and respected because of the advice we give our children, our support and our life lessons. One of the people involved in the poll said, “We may roll our eyes from time to time but there’s no denying that a cheesy dad joke makes us laugh. It’s no surprise that our dad’s sense of humour is the favourite thing about the father figure in our life.” This was supported by the British Psychological Society, “By continuing telling their children jokes that are so bad that they’re embarrassing, fathers may push their children’s limits for how much embarrassment they can handle.” That said, and my being given permission to proceed with gusto instead of gutso, let’s get ready to rumble with my four children, as well as you and yours. Many are the times mine shook their heads and said loudly, “Dad! Oh gosh, man. Ease us up please! Mom, tell him to stop!”

Just in case some of you don’t know how terrible dad jokes can be, and the boys get enough training so they would be ready when their times come, here are a few examples. I start with one from my favourite comedian when I was young, Jerry Lewis. He said, “When I was a kid, I said to my father one afternoon, ‘Daddy, will you take me to the zoo?’ He answered, ‘If the zoo wants you, let them come and get you.’” One youngster’s father told him that he wanted something different, something really groundbreaking for Father’s Day. The youngster gave his daddy a shovel. One boy said his father wanted to listen to music while they were fishing. So, he put on something catchy. Another father was so concerned that his son would buy him something that would be costly, he told the boy that he wanted a gift with no strings attached. The boy brought him a broken guitar. One father, who said that he carries pictures where his money used to be, was worried, “My children are buying gifts for me for Father’s Day. I’m not sure if I can afford it!” Another, on Father’s Day, decided to get his son to help him wash the family car. The boy’s mother ran out and shouted at her husband, “Can’t you use a sponge instead?” Perhaps the father was getting back at his son who, in the previous year, gave his dad some soap flakes instead of corn flakes for breakfast. When asked by a friend, “How did he react?” the boy replied, “He was foaming at the mouth!” So, now you’ve got the examples, when does a dad joke become a dad joke? When it becomes apparent!

INSTRUCTION BOOK

The fact is that life doesn’t come with an instruction book and that’s why we have parents, fathers especially. While the greatest thing a father can do for his children is love their mother, Robert Frost, the poet who wrote The Road Not Taken, did not take the mother as first in line. He believed that you don’t have to deserve your mother’s love, as they love you regardless. However, you have to deserve your father’s, and that is not easy. He’s more particular. This is why another great poet, William Wordsworth, who believed that “Life is divided into three terms - that which was, which is, and which will be”, was convinced that, “Father! to God himself we cannot give a holier name.” For that reason, it is believed that the greatest gift we have ever got from God is someone we call “Dad”. Sigmund Freud, the neurologist, was convinced, “I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.” But it’s not just men. Chelsea Clinton, daughter of Bill Clinton and despite everything he is known to have done, said, “[My father] has always provided me a safe place to land and a hard place from which to launch.” And television presenter Lisa Rogers put it into a broader context, “A man’s worth is measured by how he parents his children. What he gives them, what he keeps away from them, the lessons he teaches and the lessons he allows them to learn on their own.” In other words, and in the case of so many of us, when our fathers didn’t have our hands, they held our backs and did not have a belt in the other one.

This is why my greatest concern, and perhaps the one that affected me most because of my own experience, is that, for many of us and our children, when Fathers’ Day came, our fathers, and later our children’s fathers, were not ‘day’ or ‘there’ when they were expected and needed. The most confusing day in the Caribbean is Father’s Day. While the boys deal with the lack, or loss, of the father, with anger and even hate, the girls are totally devastated and may never recover from the pain and despair. It is true that Father’s Day is also in honour of stepfathers, grandfathers, uncles and even big brothers, but not having a father around on Father’s Day is tough on all children. One thing I have learnt is that, as Shakespeare wrote, we have to be true to our own selves and that is the only way we cannot be false to anybody else, especially our children, who, in many ways and almost every day, are the first heroes of their sons and the first loves of their daughters. It is why dads are most ordinary men turned by love into heroes, adventurers, storytellers and singers of songs, and also the reason for children losing their way forward.

It is true, as Billy Graham, the evangelist, believed, “A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.” In fact, I have learnt from Rita Rudner, the US comedian, who was serious with this one, “I gave my father one hundred dollars and told him ‘Dad, buy yourself something that will make life easier.’ So, he went out and bought a present for my mother.” As we say, that is man! It is why I am proud of The Fathers’ Association of Trinidad and Tobago, as well as those in other parts of the region and the world, for helping families to be, and remain, together.

Tony Deyal was a young teacher and had four theories that he kept telling parents they should use to raise and train their children. Now, he has four children and no theories. Send feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com