When I was a child I was afraid of some of my friends’ fathers. They would yell and scold and didn’t seem to have a tolerance for children. My own dad was not like. I was not used to a yelling kind of household.
My first playmate, a neighbor girl, had a dad who saw us having a birthday party for our dolls. He told us that dolls don’t have birthdays so it was a lie and we’d go to hell. I was 6 years old. I had to ask my mom what hell was. From that day on I always left before he came home from work. He went on to father five children. I wondered if it was intentional or lack of good birth control. His wife was the nicest person but I avoided her father like the plague.
In my teens there were fathers who would do favors like drop us off somewhere but it would be with attitude. Grunts and body language that clearly said we were disturbing their sports game watching or their beer was getting warm. I remember one friend asking her mom to ask her dad if he’d drive me home. I wondered why she didn’t feel comfortable asking him herself. We were best friends for years and I don’t think he said more than 50 words to me.
Not all dads were like that. Certainly mine wasn’t but I had another bestie and her dad would plop down at the kitchen table and chat with us. We were 14 at the time so how exciting would that conversation be? Shades of nail polish, hot guy on the team? It didn’t matter he was right in there (except maybe not for the nail polish!).
There is an art to doing someone a favor. You can negate the whole thing with negativity, make the other person feel uncomfortable and projecting control. Head tosses, eye rolls and “let’s get going, I have things to do” fit in this category.
After a lifetime of this sort of exposure I’m not good at asking for favors. I’ve had people say “call if you need anything” but if I do, they are unavailable. Of course they are very sorry but clearly unwilling to change anything in their life even if it’s a medical emergency.
Since my auto accident I’ve been without transportation. The beloved husband has altered his schedule and dropped things to accommodate me. I am very appreciative. Best of all there is no head shaking or tsk-tsking as he escorts me to Starbucks for my much needed mocha every morning.
My brother and a few friends are like that too – not about the mocha but there if I need them. Everyone has stuff going on. No one wants to be inconvenienced but they truly don’t seem to mind. If they do, they keep it to themselves. It’s only a good deed if you don’t make the person feel badly about asking.
I’m glad that my family wasn’t like that. I often wonder how my friends coped. As a teenager you need to catch rides especially to places out of bike range or in the evening. Maybe you learn how to work it but I’m glad I never had to.
As a strange twist to this story, one of my adult friends had a “grumpy” father. I was always polite and pleasant but avoided his company even though I was in my 20s. One day she told me that he liked me best out of all of her friends. He sure had a helluva way of showing it!
The beloved husband is a keeper for sure. A man who cleans the kitty litter and drives you to Starbucks (which is really hard to justify as critical) without snark is a keeper.