My dad listened. He held all my words in his ears. He wiped my tears. Then he held me. (from Alvin-Ho: Allergic To Birthday Parties, Science Projects, and Other Man-Made Catastrophes by Lenore Look)
My dad has this thing about the number of words men can use or hear in a day versus the number of words women can use or hear in a day. He always says men need fewer words. So if I was just talking in tween or teen jibberish about goofy tweeny things he would stop me and ask me to think first so I could reduce the number of words. Say it in as concise a way as possible. Because of this, I learned to think quickly and cut out the extras. I remember a time in the eighth grade when we were challenged by a teacher to go a whole day without using the word like inappropriately. We were each given ten stickers to wear and everytime we were caught using the word as a filler, we would lose a sticker. I didn’t lose a single sticker. I wasn’t allowed to use filler words at home so it was easy for me to speak without them everywhere.
It may sound rigid, but it was fine. And my dad was the only man in a house of estrogen, so I think he needed to cut down on the chatter a bit. 😉
But here is the wonderful thing about my dad: when it came to something that really mattered, he listened. He held all my words in his ears. It didn’t have to be a great world tragedy. It could just be a grade I wasn’t expecting, a slight from a supposed friend, a minor humiliation, confusion arising from the hormone high or low of the moment. If it really mattered to me, it mattered to him. And I could say umm or like and I could choke over my words and repeat myself and cry. And he would listen.
I love that.
And I love that when I took my son and my nephew to his house yesterday and I was completely flustered by the 104 degree heat and just in a bad mood for no good reason, he took my car around the corner and filled my tank. It changed my whole attitude just like that. What a great dad!