Anyone who knows me knows how I feel about my dad.
HE’S THE BEST.
My parents are super supportive and I love them both more than I could ever express.
But my dad and I definitely have a special bond.
One of the reasons for this is that I can look back on the 48 years I’ve been on the planet, and I literally cannot think of one mean thing my father has ever said to me.
I cannot recall a time he lost it on me, a time he insulted me, or a time he even yelled.
I know I make him sound perfect.
He’s not perfect. Nobody is. He’s got faults, just like the rest of us.
He was probably too permissive when we were kids. He often has a hard time saying no to people. He worries.
But my father is the kindest person I know.
And he also has the biggest heart of anyone I know.
He gives everyone the benefit of the doubt and second, third and fourth chances.
When I am suffering or when one of the kids is suffering, it’s possible he’s hurting more about it than we are.
He feels everything extremely deeply.
Being his daughter, I know this about him.
But sometimes I wonder what other people pick up on.
I also wonder how observant my kids are.
Especially the boys.
Maybe that’s a stereotypical or sexist thing to say, but it’s been my experience as the mother of both boys and girls that the girls tend to pick up on how other people are feeling, and the boys are usually just completely oblivious.
In particular, Number 3 is often totally unaware not just of how other people are feeling, but of anything that is going on outside of his thirteen-year-old existence.
Number 3 is also obsessed with hairlines lately.
My brother and my dad are both a little bit challenged in the hairline department.
And I think Number 3 is afraid the same thing will happen to him.
So he jokes about it often — not about himself but about other people who have receding hairlines. It’s annoying and it’s not particularly nice and sometimes I’m a little concerned that he’s got no internal moral compass when it comes to the amount of hair people have on their heads.
I know some of it comes from a place of worry.
People can’t control the amount of hair they retain as they grow older.
So the other day we were driving to swim practice, and it’s a 45-minute drive, and Number 3 and I have lots of time to talk.
And inevitably the topic of peoples’ hairlines came up.
My uncle — my dad’s brother — had recently been up to visit from Texas, and he has a much fuller head of hair than my dad does.
Of course Number 3 noticed this.
And he said to me, “Papa (my dad) did not win in the hairline department.”
“No, he didn’t,” I replied.
“But you know what department he did win in?” Number 3 asked.
“No, which one?” I answered, expecting him to make a joke or say something sarcastic.
“Empathy,” said Number 3.
He does get it.
I was floored. Shocked. Impressed.
And also extremely relieved.
Because it became crystal clear in the car last week that Number 3, thank goodness, isn’t nearly as clueless as I thought he was.