What I learned from my father (so far)

Happy Father's Day! My dad (called affectionately "Babbo" which is Italian for "Dad") is wise as well as fun and today seemed like a good time to honor him in my own way. Here's to the man who is an amazing friend to this grateful daughter, flew 1800 miles to go to father/daughter dances when I was in college and rescued me from car trouble more times than I'd care to admit. These are some of the important things I've learned from him (so far): 

1) Stuff is just stuff - Babbo is the best example of not holding too tightly to possessions. He has been known to give things away quite freely and most importantly without regret. What a great role model in such a "stuff oriented" society! People are so much more important.

2) If it's your job, do it the best you can - I can honestly say my work ethic comes from him and it was not so much what he said but what he did that left the biggest impression. At work or even just mowing the lawn, he's always hardworking and deliberate about how he does things. There is no cutting corners, no "flaking out" on your coworkers and as long as it takes to get it right, that's as long as it takes you to get it done.

3) Playing is important, too! - As good as Babbo is at working hard, he is equally good at unplugging and playing hard. The minute we'd leave our street to go on a family vacation, he was in "holiday mode" (complete with his patented "Woohoo!" yell we came to expect and love) and ready to enjoy our time together free from the distractions of clients and e-mail. The two always have their places and don't overlap: work is purely work and rest is purely rest.

4) Chocolate is a vegetable - Obviously it grows on a plant and is therefore a veggie. Case closed because Babbo said so and who am I to argue? :) 

5) Bullitt is a classic - Here I'm not sure I can wholeheartedly agree because I sort of get bogged down in the numerous chase scenes-and, well, I'm female-but this is Babbo's favorite flick. It pairs strong, powerful characters with one iconic car. You can't go wrong with that.

6) A father is your first hero - This isn't anything he's ever said but just lived. Whether it was childish woes: a playground bully and (true story) the blonde Ken doll losing his head or adult ones: flat tires and a boyfriend making me lose my head, he's been there to be the hero.

7) Parents are human beings - This is a conclusion I hope my children can come to as well. As Babbo has said many times: kids don't come with an instruction manual and you don't really know how to parent until you've been one. Parents are going to make mistakes but you can't let the mistakes of others bog you down or dictate your path in life. After awhile you have to take responsibility for your own actions. As an adult one also has to understand that your parents have feelings, dreams and desires just like you. It's important to realize that after a certain age they aren't the "enforcers" anymore but human beings who need to be treated with love and respect and who probably would love to spend time with you without having strings attached.

8) It's okay for an Italian to go Scottish once in awhile - For whatever reason I was obsessed with Scotland as a youth. Probably the romance of the landscape and the stories of Highlanders (blame Rob Roy and William Wallace). For my birthday several years in a row, Babbo always indulged me by taking me to the Highland Games where we'd immerse ourselves in all things Scottish including kilts and bagpipes (he still has bagpipe music as the ringtone on his cellphone when I call). And then he was instrumental in making sure I finally got to see Edinburgh when I was an adult. I still maintain that that we Italians have the best food but I still like being an honorary Scot once in awhile.

9) Women are valuable and should be cherished - In addition to my Scotland obsession, Babbo first had to put up with my feminist streak. Not that he ever harbored any sexist ideals, it's just another ridiculous phase I had to pass through on my way to adulthood. In fact, I'm just taking this opportunity to sincerely apologize for going Gloria Steinem on you, Babbo! Hands down he set the most amazing example by the way he opens doors for ladies, makes sure his "girls" (i.e. my sis and me) get flowers for Valentine's Day and would do the car maintenance, moving, or whatever needed a father's touch without complaint. Definitely a hard act to follow for anyone who dared to love his daughters.

10) A man who loves you will watch Jane Austen films even if it's just to fall asleep - Babbo says he's not really sure what what happens beyond the opening credits of the BBC's Pride and Prejudice (the good one with Colin Firth) but he does know the music is good enough to listen to while drifting off to sleep. The fact is that he's willing to concede the DVD player in favor of a period drama because he loves Mum and knows it's something she enjoys even if it's like an Ambien for him. Maybe Jane Austen could have written in a few carriage chase scenes?

11) Reading the Bible should be a priority - First thing in the morning Babbo can be seen reading his Bible over coffee and oatmeal. He doesn't shout it from the rooftops or brag about it on a social media, he just does it quietly and faithfully which is how we all should.

12) When children grow up, you let them go - This reminds me of the saying "if you love something, let it go free" (Doug Horton). Obviously, there are circumstances (illness, spousal abuse, etc.) where you need to step in but overall, you have to release them to the wilds of the world. Let them take what they've learned and go do their own thing (right or wrong) because then they're old enough to be held responsible for their own actions. Babbo is really good about not interfering in anything his adult children are doing (again: good or bad) unless we ask for his help or his advice. And then he gives really good, impartial advice.

Love you, Babbo!

What have you learned from your father? 

(photo by intrepid95)



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Mansfield Park
An Assembly Such as This
Eight Cousins
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Little House in the Big Woods
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On the Night of the Seventh Moon
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The Diary of a Young Girl
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
I Know What You're Thinking: Using the Four Codes of Reading People to Improve Your Life
A Room with a View
Northanger Abbey, Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon

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