I suppose they were reasonable things to come from a father’s mouth. Still, they took me by surprise. “Only move one body part at a time,” I overheard my husband saying as he helped our young son up a ladder. “Grab it around the stripe; fingers across the laces,” he explained a few days later on the subject of throwing a spiral. That night, he gave an impromptu lesson in scooping unyielding ice cream from a carton: “Use the fancy spoons,” he said. “They don’t bend.”
The information floored me. I didn’t know these things. How did I not know these things? Was I supposed to have learned them from my dad?
I asked friends what their dads had taught them and was aghast to find that their pops had instructed them in physical feats like surfing and fishing, and practical tasks like changing tires and hammering nails. They’d insisted their kids give firm handshakes and pack only what they could carry. They spouted sensible maxims like “Finish what you start” and “There’s no excuse for being late. Ever.”