Twenty years ago, our older daughter, newly out of college, went with two of her friends to a wedding several states away. I, of course, being a good father, drew her a map of how to get to their destination, even though I had never been there myself. But I studied the Rand McNally road atlas, a freebie from State Farm agent Stan McMorris, and that was all I needed.
Mary Beth said that when she arrived at the home of Diane, who was going to drive, she and the third girl both were studying the maps that their fathers had drawn for them. None of the three maps were the same.
What they had in common was the concern, and directional enthusiasm, of the fathers.
I thought of that this morning as I emailed daughters and grandson [granddaughter does not have a car] to check their anti-freeze and otherwise winterize their cars.
That is what fathers are good for, directions concerning cars, either their movements or their maintenance. That’s about all we are good for.
Parenting is still done primarily by mothers, with some significant exceptions. A whole lot of kids are raised in single-mother homes, and a remarkable number of them turn out just fine. That’s because it’s nice to have a father, but you really don’t need one.
Especially with the advent of GPS systems. Any map a father provides will just be obviated by Maude, the lady in the dashboard, who tells you how to “arrive at your destination.”
Without the need for maps, the only known use for fathers is reminding children, and grandchildren, to check, in autumn, the anti-freeze in their cars. I have been reminding my daughters for almost forty years now. I have worried about what will happen to their engines when I am no longer here to remind them.
At one time I started to arrange for my friend, Jerry Stout, a lawyer, to send them reminders each year even though I was dead. It seemed like something a lawyer should do. Then I remembered Jerry is even older than I, so that wouldn’t work. There is probably an “eternal antifreeze reminder” app, but I don’t know how to find apps, although there is probably a “can’t find apps” app, too.
So, in case your father or grandfather is not available to do so, I’ll remind you to check your anti-freeze. Also turn your clocks back an hour before you go to bed Saturday night. And change the batteries in your smoke detector. And…