Sunday, June 15, 2014

I Am My Father

I am my father’s daughter, no denying it. I know that I look just like my mother, but the truth is that at my core, I am the female equivalent of my dad. There are times that this is a great thing, and times when I could kill him for warping me into the mess that I am. But regardless of how I feel about it, there’s no avoiding it. 

For Fathers’ Day, I thought I would honor my dad by naming the Top 5 ways that he and I are alike.

Thanks, Dad. 

1.      Magenta v Magneta

My dad always thought it was a lot of fun to purposely mispronounce words. Unfortunately, science has proven that the English language is acquired by listening to others speak it. We hear it, then we reproduce it. So if, for example, you’ve heard your father talk about the color “magneta” your entire life, you could potentially end up in a situation like this one:


               ME: “…and it was magneta, and…”
               MOM: “You mean “magenta”?
               ME: “No, magneta.”
               MOM: “Magenta.”
               ME: “No, I know there’s a color called magenta. This was MAGNETA.”
               MOM: “What color is magneta?”
               ME: “Sort of reddish, purplish…”
               MOM: “That would be magenta. There is no color called magneta.”
               ME: “But dad always says…”

Sadly, I was in high school at the time of this conversation.

Afterward, I always vowed that I would NEVER do this to my own children. But low and behold, the other day, I realized… I DO THIS. Not in exactly the same way, or I would have realized it before. But I do mispronounce words by putting the emphasis on the wrong syllable. I do it a lot, actually. And I have never thought anything about it until Andy repeated something I said in the exact wrong-way I had just said it.

And all I could think was, “MAGNETA!”

2.      “A Better Way”

No matter what we were working on as kids (or teens, or young adults, or presently…), Dad always had a method that would make things better. Repeat—no matter what. So, you’re folding towels? Try it THIS way instead! It’s better! Cooking? This way would be better! Enrolling in college? Teaching school? Trimming your toenails? Raising children? Washing the car? DAD’S WAY IS BETTER.

That used to drive me nuts.

But now, I’m married.

And have children.

I am sure that one day, my children will complain about me (I am sure my husband already does) and how I always made them re-fold towels to fit my specifications, or re-wash dishes until they met my standards of cleanliness (more on this with #3), or whatever. But for now, it is easier to warp them too rather than fight against my own warped-ness.  

Besides, my way really is better. Probably because it’s the same way as Dad’s.  

3.      Sanitation

My dad is a freak about things being clean. And by “clean”, I don’t just mean sparkly white and “good enough”. I mean, no germ could survive upon it. He has actually used the phrase before, “I should be able to drink out of it,” to describe the condition the toilet should be in after you finish scrubbing it. One of our family’s favorite stories tells about how he used to carry his own dishes with him when he would stay at others’ houses because he didn’t feel like theirs were clean enough.

So, needless to say, the average person’s cleaning style isn’t going to cut it in Dad’s world. That’s okay because he has developed his own, better way (see #2) of guaranteeing that things are up to his standards.

Let’s talk dishes, for example.

1.      You use one sponge to knock off food from a dirty dish.
2.      You use a separate sponge to clean the dish with soap.
3.      If your hands aren’t covered in third degree burns by the end, your water’s not hot enough.
4.      If raw meat touched it, it still goes in the dishwasher.
5.      You use a separate towel to dry your hands than you use to dry clean dishes.

Now, to me, this seems completely normal. In fact, I am in total agreement with Dad—this is the best way. It’s probably even the ONLY way if you’re wanting me to eat off your dishes. But, I am a graduate from Professor Dad’s Home Economics Class. (Where I received an A, by the way.)

Apparently, this is not the norm. I only know this because dish washing was a HUGE source of contention for about the first five years of my marriage. For five years, I watched my husband try to “help” by doing dishes. He would fill a sink with water and soap, stick every dish inside of it (without rinsing first! What the heck???), and start scrubbing. And as he scrubbed, the sponge would collect more and more food residue. But that didn’t seem to bother him in the least. I guess he figured that since the sponge was soapy, and the food bits were gone from the dish itself, the dish was clean. 

There were several times that I walked in towards the end, and I could see the sink full of tepid water filled with floating food chunks and the sponge covered in soapy food bits. And I would be nauseated knowing that I would never be able to find every dish that he had just “washed”, plus all the ones that those dishes had touched and contaminated, so that I could start over. 

And my sweet, helpful husband would turn to me, expecting a huge kiss and overflowing gratitude, and instead would find me holding back tears and vomit as I collected ruined sponges and threw them in the trash.

I finally called my mother for help. I explained to her that I had tried my best to train Ken for FIVE YEARS, and that in FIVE YEARS I had not been successful, so apparently we were doomed to eat off sparkly-yet-secretly-death-trap dishes FOREVER, and that I didn’t know what to do!

And do you know what she told me? She told me that HE was normal and I was the weird one! 

               ME: “But mom, this is how Dad always taught me…”

               MOM: “Catie, your dad is not normal.”

And now I know—I am not normal either.

(If you’re wondering, I did finally solve the dish-washing problem. I banned Ken for life from doing dishes. Our marriage immediately improved.)

4.      “If you can’t get your feelings hurt at church, you ain’t got no feelings.”

This is one of my father’s favorite quotes. I am not sure if it’s an original, or if he stole it from somewhere, but I am convinced that it is absolute truth. Church people can be downright mean. And I used to think that was all Dad meant when he said this. But eventually, I started to figure out that Dad really never did get his feelings hurt at church. In fact, the whole congregation could be in an uproar about something, and there was my father, just as cool as a cucumber.  

And that’s when I started to realize that, all this time, he had been trying to warn me, “Honey, I don’t have any feelings.”

And that’s when I figured out why I had never been able to cry my way out of trouble, or, as I got a little older, play on his sympathies when I would need a little extra cash, or make him feel even remotely guilty about anything, ever. It was a blow to realize that I was probably the only girl in the world who could not wrap her daddy around her finger.

But of course, it didn’t hurt my feelings to know this. Because, like my dad, I don’t have any feelings.

In our home, my husband is the sweet one. He is the one who is more apt to cave if the boys cry enough or if they make a cute little face when they ask for something ridiculous. I, on the other hand, am the hard-butt disciplinarian whose “no means no”. Unfortunately for them, I am the one who stays home with them day in and day out, so they NEVER get to cry themselves out of trouble or sweet-talk their way into things.

Poor kids.

On a happy note, I really enjoy our church since I never get offended there.

5.      SWEETS

My father and I have the same amount of self-control when it comes to Blue Bell ice cream and homemade chocolate meringue pie. And that amount is exactly zero. Dad often quips about how “everyone’s gonna die someday, and chocolate pie/Blue Bell seems a pretty good way to go.”

I can’t find anything in that statement to disagree with.

Unfortunately, our affinity for these two items means we also sport nearly identical bellies. So maybe I don’t look ONLY like my mom, after all.


  1. Thats my wonderful and honest daughter in law and i love her. Even though she is a little quirky she's a wonderful wife and mom. Her favorite Mama in Law.

  2. And I think that I picked up a lot of my ways from my parents. I'll bet your children will pick some of their personalities up from you and Ken too... So, the moral of the story of life is: Be careful who's eyes are watching when you do the things you do. :-)