Not As Young Anymore: Not Cool Dad
Some parents try to be that ‘cool mom or dad’ to their kids. I’ve tried a different approach. Hopefully I will become the same father I had to my son.
This past weekend my son Chase and I decided to make a surprise visit to wish ‘Ole Pa’ Doren a happy 79th birthday. My dad, Chase’s grandfather, is the biggest reason as to why I am the man I am today. I’d be proud if my son someday said the same thing.
No matter how hard you try, I’m convinced that no parent will ever achieve the coveted status of ‘cool’ in their kid(s) minds. Some might try and tell a convincing tale that they are that one and only ‘cool parent’ that was able to be awarded the ‘Cool Parent Badge’ by their offspring. I have yet to meet the child that has actually admitted that their parents are cool.
Try as you might, being that one lone cool parent is a herculean effort that few, if any, has ever been able to achieve. I know I haven’t climbed to the top of Mount Cool Parent, but that being said, my goal was never to be that cool parent. I aspired for something different with my son. I want to be his hero.
To be honest, I never, and I mean never, viewed Ole Pa Doren as cool. How can a man wearing a ‘wife-beater’ tank top undershirt, bright orange shorts, black socks, and blue shoes, lest I forget the bright yellow hat, standing in the driveway barking at everyone to get into the motor home for the next Doren Family excursion be seen as cool? The best you can hope for is that your friends don’t see the spectacle of the latest ‘Doren Family Circus’ as it is about to embark on its next adventure.
That being said, I’m still very proud of the things that I learned from that loveable orange-shorts wearing man. Despite his fashion blindness, he did teach me countless things. He taught me how the world looks at you. He taught me that only you will look out for you… just to name a few things.
The most important piece of advise that he unintentionally taught me was that, “… if a deal starts bad, it ends bad.” Those are the words that has governed my entire life.
I laughed when he first said, “… as you get older, I’ll get smarter.” I’m not laughing anymore. Those seven words were the loudest words he ever said to me. It’s a curse that rings true in my ears ever day. Despite me not wanting it to be true, that’s exactly what has happened. He’s become the smartest man I know.
I said those exact same words to my son about six years ago. Ironically he was about the same age that I remembering hearing my ‘old man’ sharing that very same wisdom to me. Yes he laughed at me as well. It took me twenty years to finally understand what he was trying to say, but I finally got it. Hopefully my son gets it faster than I did.
He may have been the fashion embarrassment in our driveway, and he may have had an odd way of sharing his knowledge (in my eyes anyway), but he knew what he was talking about. That man has been, and will always be my hero, and I’m not ashamed to to admit that.
I am my father’s son. That being said, I’ve vowed to never be caught wearing a ‘wife-beater’ tank top undershirt, bright orange shorts, black socks, and blue shoes, lest I forget the bright yellow hat in my driveway.
Despite my better efforts, I’m sure that my son will still find something that I’ve done to embarrass him, and it will be burned into his memory for ever. Hopefully he can see past my ‘non-coolness’ to learn what I hope to teach him just as my ‘old man’ taught me.
Chase, I will get smarter as you get older. I promise!
Dale Earnhardt Sr. & Dale Jr Over the years