Back in the ‘60s when girls’ sport were taboo, my dad taught me how to throw a perfect spiral, pitch a baseball and shoot a basket. Each time he tossed the ball to my brother, he also threw once to me. He made sure to hit each of us an equal number of pop ups to field. He showed me how to hold a baseball glove, pump up a basketball and take a fish off the hook.
Like the Pied Piper, as soon as kids saw my dad arrive home from his teaching job, they lined up for a turn at bat. Soon he was pitching whiffle balls to the entire neighborhood. Instead of grass in our backyard, we had permanent dirt-patch bases, a diamond in the rough, the Field of Dreams for an entire generation.
Even though I never saw any other fathers in the yard shooting hoops with their daughters, I never thought it odd. Chasing grounders, running passing patterns and learning the baseline drive with my dad seemed as natural as breathing. After all, he was a coach and I was an athlete. So what if it took the rest of the society a few decades to catch up.
Today with the acceptance of girls’ sports and working moms the norm, dads’ coaching daughters is no longer an anomaly. The Women’s Rights Movement also liberated men to assume a greater hands-on role in fatherhood.
Today’s dads are free to coach Little League AND girls’ soccer, to build camp fires, make tree forts, piece together Legos, to change diapers, give baths, bandage cuts. They can also bake birthday cakes, read Good Night Moon, cook bœuf bourguignon and grill burgers.
Throughout our children’s youth, my husband worked the score table, drove the van for our daughter and son’s teams and prepared gourmet meals for all of us. Gérald never batted an eye about running a printing business during the day, and then wearing the apron at night. Though it may have been a typical behavior for a Frenchman, he paid the bills, balanced the budget and brought home the bacon, proud to be a family man.
Just as I witnessed my dad in multiple roles – caring teacher, inspiring coach, loyal husband -my children saw their father as tough and tender, demanding and nuturing, competitive and compassionate.
Kids raised in families with ball-playing moms and story-reading dads make for a balanced, healthy, wholesome childhood. Whether organizing car pools, building sand castles or playing catch, adults investing time in youth yields the greatest dividends. Worth all the gold in the world !
Your Dad was an Awesome man
He taught me a lot about life and sports
I had the honor to be coached by your Dad and your Grandfather
Gee thanks Mouse. Your comment was so touching. Any chance you’ll be in Sterling over the summer? I am still in school but fly over in July..would love to catch up!
He is still one of my favorite dads. He was my bestest neighbor and is still a good friend. He and your Mom helped me and my chldre through some tough times and has always been a smiling, happy, helpful person. I wish him and your whole family a happy Father’s Day and good times together.
Thanks Pat. And you were always a favorite neighbor and special family friend.
Thanks for sharing such a heartwarming story about your Dad.I loved it! What a great guy. I feel like I have met him thorugh your writing. Have a wonderful Father’s Day.
I am sure this day was bittersweet as your remember and miss your own dear dad. Writing helps us all cope with the inevitable transitions…so Write On, Sister and keep the HOPE alive.
Your dad was VERY progressive! And so involved. I love my dad dearly but he was more traditional and I suspect would be the first to admit he missed a lot by focusing on career when his kids were young. I’m glad your husband is also evolved. Your children are lucky to have you both.
Thanks Judy…yes I have been spoiled by a few good men in my lifetime. Taught me how to get up and walk it off…which has kept me fighting today.
I love this & you know I’m going to twet it! You have some special men in your life.
Thanks for the RT. Yes, I have some good men in my life and great sisters, too. Write on Sista!
You are indeed a fortunate woman…in many ways. Both a father and a husband that have been so involved is a gift.
Thanks Delana…yes I do feel gifted with many blessings. Glad to see you back at the blog and enjoying the South.
Needless to say, I already knew everything you said about your Dad. He was an inspiration to me in my personal and, by default, professional life. I just wish I had learned the lesson about career vs LIFE better. Love you and your blog (thoughts about the life/journey we are on).
Thanks Greg…this was so sweet… made my day and know it will mean so much to my dad too. My next journey will take me to back to Blue & Gold country…but first I have to survive until the end of the school year.
Sis, of course I know how richly blessed we were to be raised by a dad who was so caring and involved and who helped to break down gender barriers. No wonder we wouldn’t settle for less and went on to marry men who lived by those same principles. This was a beautiful tribute to Dad, Gerald, and all the dads everywhere who have helped influence their childern to become their “best selves.”
My son is 33, just welcomed first baby. It’s so cool to see this big guy all girlie over his little girl. I am so proud of his nurturing side. And my DIL is, too. When I stood in the card aisle at the drug store buying his first Fathers Day card it was to cry for. Good times!
Congratulations grandma! This is so heartwarming. I can just picture you in you in the card aisle looking for the perfect words to capture such a precious moment in time.
Lovely story Pat and a real tribute to your awesome dad and fabulous husband. And isn’t it nice that our daughters are not called “tom boys” for being athletic the way we were?