We were getting ready to attend my son's high school graduation and he needed help with his tie. I can only do it if it's around my neck, so I took it from him and started wrapping and knotting. My brother, who was going to the ceremony with us, seemed surprised that I knew how. "Well, yeah--Dad taught me."
Throughout my childhood it seemed my mom was the main teacher, from learning to read to making a bed, but that evening I realized Dad had a hand in some important life lessons.
My father started his career as an algebra teacher, so my math skills came from him. He was instrumental in me not failing second grade arithmetic; I owe all my long-subtraction abilities to him. Thanks to calculators and computers I rarely have to use this skill, but I'm ready should the need arise.
Dad was also in the Navy Reserves while we were growing up, putting in a weekend a month and then several weeks every summer on his ship. He always told me "There's the right way, the wrong way, and the Navy way." When I asked him if that meant the Navy way was not the right way, he laughed. I think what he really meant is things aren't always black or white--sometimes you just have to find what works for you.
Dad taught me that my sense of humor had merit. He used to to say I was a smart ass, but the look on his face told me it was a good thing to be, indeed. (When Mom heard him say "smart ass" she'd snap "Bud!" and he'd amend it to "smart aleck," but Dad and I knew that I was a smart ass.) I was the youngest of the family with no obvious talent or beauty, but I had to learn to use the gifts God gave me (and maybe that was just making my dad laugh).
Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. Never think that your kids aren't learning from you--just by being present in their lives shows them that they are valued.
And don't forget to teach them how to tie a Half Windsor.