Dedication to dads

Picture of melanie Dooner

melanie Dooner

Melanie has worked as a teacher in Catholic secondary schools and now works as a writer and editor

On Sunday September 5 we celebrate our dads. In what has been another topsy turvy year because of COVID-19, any excuse for a family get together is a good excuse. Majellan asked two of its regular contributors, Melanie Dooner and Kate Moriarty, to share their feelings about fathers.

Melanie writes: Reflecting on what makes a great dad, especially when you’re a mum, is no easy task. In fact, in reflecting on my husband, Mick, as a dad I’ve found myself pivot between seeing him as a great example for a reflection on being a dad, to ‘Really?

How on earth can I be expected to write nice things about you after you let our child put stickers all over our kitchen cupboards?’ But the truth is that Mick is a great dad to our two kids Benjamin and Nicholas, not because he is the model of whatever a “perfect dad” is seen to be, but because our kids think he is.

In fact, I believe our kids worship the ground he walks on.

Being in lockdown and having the chance to observe Mick in his best dad moments, I realise how simple his parenting strategy is:  Love them, love them again, and love them more. Mick loves our boys “all the way to the moon and back to the power of infinity” as this mathematics-classic children’s book-loving man attests to every night as he kisses them goodnight.

He is a “go-with-the-flow” kind of dad. He takes each day in his stride and adapts his expectations of our boys to whatever is going on for them personally. He has a strong sense of when it’s time to push them to talk, and when they just need space to think and process whatever is going on in their world.

Mick’s sometimes maddening laid-back approach is revealed as just a cover when I discover that he has a plan mapped out that will ensure our boys can pursue their passions if they desire. Rugby League for one, and an emerging creative love of all things Minecraft for the other, not to mention the ‘How to teach children Chess’ strategies he is methodically teaching them under the guise of play.

Mick is a “keep-your-cool-until-they-will-no-longer-listen” kind of dad. His patience is (almost) endless, which he explains as being because he’s not around them as much as me, but knowing our boys as I do, this is no less than a superhuman feat.

He is also an involved dad – whether that be managing our eldest son’s football side, dressing up and doing karate alongside our youngest to encourage him to stick at it during lockdown, or trying out the latest iPad game so he knows the online world they are dabbling in.

I could go on, but as the saying goes, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” and so it makes sense that one of our boys should have the final word …

Nicholas, aged six, loves the fact that his dad plays with him. “I love dad because he plays Minecraft with me, he plays with me, and he gardens with me. He reads to me even when it’s after my bedtime and gives me kisses and cuddles when I’m going to sleep. I want my dad to know that he is the best dad in the world, he’s the best dad in the galaxy, and he’s the best dad in the universe.”

When nine-year-old Benjamin was asked why he loves his dad, he said, “My dad is the best dad because he always gives his time to help me with what I need. I love that my dad loves Mathematics, sport, Minecraft, us kids, mum, and all his relatives.

“I love that he wants to play with me and spend time with me. I think he is a great dad because he uses his time for us not for what he needs. More than anything I want my dad to know that it’s not his outside that I love, but that I love what is on the inside. His inside is lovely because he has a big heart.”

Kate whose work has appeared in publications such as Australian Catholics magazine writes: I saw a sign outside a shop saying “50% off Men’s Trousers”. Turns out they were selling shorts.

I love Fridays. The last day before the weekend, the DA crossword, and the Yellow Arrow Dad Joke. My two youngest siblings are in business together. Yellow Arrow doesn’t trade in paternal humour, they run leadership workshops for schools and businesses. But every Friday, they share a dad joke on their socials.

My sister finds a goofy photo of our dad, superimposes a speech bubble with an even goofier dad joke and posts it with the tag #dadjokefriday. I can attest to the fact that these come directly from the source. It seems my dad has an endless supply of daggy jokes that make you both groan and laugh begrudgingly. Dad is a master at putting everyone at ease.

As a teenager, my dad was the cool dad. Not because of how he looked. Tall, bald and skinny, Dad was more ‘Beardy Computer Nerd’ than ‘Classic TV Dad’. Still, my friends loved him. For 20 years, my parents were the adult support couple for our local youth group.

Our house always seemed to have extra teenagers in it. Dad would cook rounds of ham, cheese and tomato jaffles late into the night. You might say you don’t want one. You might say you just had dinner. But once you smell them cooking, you’ll find yourself putting your hand up for the next batch. And you could always drop in for dinner on a cold Saturday. You wouldn’t need to call ahead. Dad would be making his famous soup and there would be plenty.

Once I had children of my own, Dad levelled up. Grandpa, or “Grandpa Chicken” as he’s often known, is fun, imaginative, and full of whimsy. All of the little ways in which dad enriched my childhood long ago are somehow magnified and concentrated in Grandpa Chicken. In the past, dad had to work hard and shoulder the weight of responsibility. Now, Grandpa can be pure fun.

Dad’s an excellent grandfather, but he’s also still my dad. I still need him, even at forty. Knowing that he has my back, knowing that I can look to him when I’m struggling in a new stage of my life, that he will express quiet confidence in me with his trademark warmth and pragmatism, means everything.

What’s made of leather and sounds like a sneeze? A shoe!

The Yellow Arrow Dad Jokes make Fridays wonderful. My brother and sister were surprised to see what a high level of engagement the posts get. Perhaps it’s because my dad is so universally loved. The various young people who sat in my childhood kitchen eating jaffles are now adults making their way in the world. It makes our week better to know that on Friday we’ll see my daggy dad in our newsfeed with another one of his daggy jokes.

Happy Fathers’ Day, Dad. May your jokes always be just that little bit terrible.


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