So, my dad thinks he can survive anything. He’s in his sixties and has had the attitude his entire life that he can tough out anything. It’s the boot-strapper attitude. “You pull up your bootstraps and keep going no matter what.” It’s why I have this ridiculous work ethic. Both myself and my brother have it. I am a full time English teacher and author. He has three jobs: a college basketball coach, a banker, and a bartender on the weekends.
I always find it funny when my dad tells us we need to find time for a life. Especially when he tells me I work too hard writing those “damn” books. Or my favorite, “You need to set boundaries for teaching. You’re working too hard.” A psychologist might call this projection.
See, my dad has owned a business of some sort all my life and most of his. The last thing he did was work as an owner operator, aka truck driver. He worked for himself, so he could work as hard as he wanted to. He’s retired now and has filled his life with all kinds of projects. (One day I came home from teaching and my deck was gone. Literally, gone! He then informed me that I needed a new one, and I had to go buy supplies so he could start on it right away.)
His mind lately is always on what he’s making for dinner. He has begun watching cooking shows and likes to try new things. (I don’t mind, I get invited to dinner.) The problem is that he thinks he has to go to the store everyday to get the ingredients for his new dish.
Under normal circumstances, this would be fine. I get it, he’s bored. If you want to go to the store everyday, go for it. (Did I mention, he cooks for me? Such a wonderful dad.)
We’re in the middle of a pandemic!
He has COPD and spent last year in the hospital after a hypertension incident that almost killed him. (It mirrored a stroke because his blood pressure got so high.) The nurses who saw him when we brought him to the emergency room thought they would never see him again. He was catatonic. Yet, somehow, against all odds, he made it. He’s doing better than ever. (Thanks to some amazing doctors and nurses at Mayo.)
So everyday we’ve had some form of the argument,
“Dad, you can’t go out. You need to stay home.”
He grumbles that Covid isn’t gonna get him, he has things to do. Blah, Blah, Blah.
(I’ve heard similar conversations from a few of my friends, so I have a feeling many millenials are having this conversation with their boomer parents.)
Yesterday was a classic.
We were watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding. (I had a small existential crisis when Tula was sitting in between her two parents watching TV. Oh my God, I need a life! See picture below.)
I would like to mention before I go into it, that I bought the house across the street from my parents so I could help them. My mom has never driven a car, and my dad used to be a truck driver, gone for weeks at a time. My mom’s twin lives next door to her. We’re a pretty close knit family.
Here’s how our conversation went:
Dad, “I got to go to the store.”
Me, “No you don’t!”
Dad, yelling, “I need my pop and popcorn!”
Mom, “I think we need to make him a mask.”
Me, “I think we need to find the duct tape.”
Dad, pointing to the kitchen, “I got that, it’s in the drawer right there.”
Me, “I don’t think you thought through telling me where you keep the duct tape.”
I, of course, went to the store for him, again. I may have bought four twelve packs of pop and four large packs of popcorn. I swear if he asks me to go again in the next two weeks, I will use that duct tape. I love my father, but sometimes he can be a big kid.
To all the grown-up kids trying to keep your stubborn fathers home. I salute you, may the odds be ever in your favor! Also, if you lose the argument, you know your dad is storing duct tape somewhere. That shit fixes everything, including a stubborn parent.