My childhood was probably pretty typical of a young girl growing up in the fifties and sixties. Mom stayed at home with us kids while my father was at work. Dad worked every day except Sundays. He had Wednesday afternoons off, but worked late on Friday nights. But, whenever he was at home, he was there for Mom and us kids one hundred percent. I have many cherished memories from those early years. Here are ten life lessons I learned from my father.
Dad taught me how to:1. Tie My Shoes
Untied shoelaces won't do. Dad taught me how to lace my shoes and tie them firmly in place. The laces need to be tied properly to give your shoe a proper fit and to make sure straggler laces don't trip you and cause a skinned knee from a fall.
What I Learned: From this I learned that life at times can trip you up. A little effort and preparation before taking steps down life's pathways will make your journey less treacherous.
2. Ride A Bike
My mom likes to tell me the story about what good little bike riders my sister and I were when we took turns riding on our shared bicycle. My older sister and I are Irish twins, I am ten months younger. Dad taught us both to ride without the help of training wheels on the sidewalk out in front of our home. Later, he taught us about bike safety when we became first graders and were given new bicycles to ride to school.
What I Learned: From this I learned about sharing, responsibility, and also the importance of balance.
3. Jump Rope
I was in tears one day after school because the other girls at recess would no longer let me play jump rope with them. I was a terrible rope jumper and was teased on the playground. Dad backed our car off the carport making room for me to practice jumping. He coached me on what I was doing wrong and helped give me the confidence to jump better.
What I Learned: From this I learned the importance of feeling confident.
4. Grow A Garden
In the summertime my parents had a large vegetable garden growing in our backyard. Dad toiled with the hoe, carving out the rows. My sister and I got down on our knees and pushed in the seeds with our "green thumbs." With my father's strong hands cupped over our smaller hands we covered seeded rows of radishes, carrots, beans, and corn with the freshly tilled soil. In the weeks to follow we helped to water and weed the garden.
What I Learned: From this I learned the importance of nourishment and caring for the bountiful earth.
5. Fly A Kite
My first kite cost 15 cents! It was yellow and I loved it. It came with a ball of string. Mom gave me a few strips of fabric to tie on its tail. Dad marched my sister and me across the street from our home to an open field where we could fly our new kites. He tested the direction of the wind and gave us a few instructions. After a few failed tries, my kite was soon soaring high in the sky.
What I Learned: From this I learned the excitement of being a part of something higher than myself.
6. Play Fair
Every child wants to be a winner. I was no different. My dad made sure that I didn't cheat or take short cuts to secure the winning prize. My family and I played lots of indoor and outdoor games together. It didn't matter what the game being played was (croquet, ping-pong, badminton, monopoly, or rummy), cheating was not allowed.
What I Learned: From this I learned how much sweeter winning is when the game is played fairly. And, I also learned the joy of play, win or lose.
7. Play Chess
My father taught me how to play many games. Chess is one that I never learned how to play very well, not for the lack of trying. But the lessons I learned from playing it have served me well.
What I Learned: From this I learned the importance of strategy. There are many different ways to win a game or survive a loss. And the most significant lesson that I took from this game as a young girl was realizing that the Queen (the female gender) had more moves than her King. Women are significant and powerful.
8. Shoot Hoops
Both my parents played basketball on their high school teams. To this day they are huge basketball fans, regularly attending the Hawkeyes games in Iowa City. I fondly remember shooting hoops out on the back patio before supper time. Dad patiently taught me how to hold the ball and aim for the basket.
What I Learned: From this I learned the importance of focusing on a goal, aiming for the best score, and most importantly that practice, practice, practice is an important element in becoming your very best.
9. Hunt For Mushrooms
Each springtime we would go trampling through the wooded areas looking for morel mushrooms. Dad would give my sister and me a few tips where to look for them. I loved these nature outings and often times picked more wild flowers than mushrooms. However, I fondly remember the afternoon I discovered a motherload of shrooms growing under a lush patch of mayapples.
What I Learned: From this I learned that some of life's best treasures come from nature... and they're free!
10. Save My Allowance
I credit my father, both parents really, about learning the value of money. I was given a weekly allowance but was not allowed to spend it freely. I was cautioned to save half of it each week so that it would accumulate into a larger sum. I was raised in a Christian home and was also taught about tithing.
What I Learned: From this I learned the importance of securing a savings account and about charity.