Author: Cornish, Rick

Fathering Fathers Day Week

Good morning from Whiskey Creek, where for one month and three days Lynn and I are dog-sitting a nine-month-old pup names Rufuss. Ted Silverman, well-known mando player who lives in the City, has gone off to Europe with his family and we’re up to five. In many ways, having five dogs to live with isn’t a lot different than having four; in other ways it’s a sea change of incalculable proportions. But that’s not what my column is about this morning. Instead, I want to tell you what I fell asleep last night thinking about.

As I sometimes do, last evening, just before heading off to bed, I checked Facebook one final time and happened to notice a post done by Brandon Rose. It was a little four-image collage of he and his wife’s two children and it carried this caption…” A day in the life of an almost one week old Lola — with Jessica Rose.” The Rose’s have just added another member to their family.

I went to bed thinking about Brandon, who, with his pop Ron camped along side of my family at Grass Valley through much of his childhood…and my own kid’s childhoods. I thought about all their crazy stunts, about the troubles rounding them all up, (we had a BUNCH of kids in our encampment,) at bedtime. About the stories I would tell the eight or ten of them before they went off to their separate tents for the night. And I also thought about Brandon and Phil and Pete (my two) and how each in his own way had grown into extraordinary parents…two girls, two girls and a boy and girl respectively.

As I lay in bed I pictured each of them huddled around the campfire with marshmallow roasting sticks in hand and great big saucer eyes waiting to see what bizarre thing would happen next in that night’s story. (I told one long story each Fathers Day week, with episodes each night and the grand culmination on Saturday night, the night it was all over until another June came around. What, I wondered, had we, (Ron and I, Bill Schneiderman and John Erwin and the other dads and their families who camped together done right. Was it something we even thought about? If so, I don’t recall doing it. Certainly don’t recall ever thinking, now what shall I do today to improve the likelihood that Phillip and Peter will be good daddies? No, they sure weren’t schooled by me on how to be loving parent. Rather, they just sort of sat back and watched and listened and took it all in. And happily, what each of them saw…and what all the kids in our camp situated each year at the foot of Pilgrim’s Hill at the Nevada County Fairgrounds saw year after year after year were dads crazy in love with their kids.

Now, I’ll only speak for myself. I was not a great parent parenting-skills wise. I certainly knew how I wanted my two boys to turn out but I don’t recall ever thinking about what in particular I could do to make them who I wanted them to be. Both of my parents came from very large families-- mom, ten brothers and sisters, and dad, ten brothers and one sister—and from what I could tell their fathers weren’t exactly textbook examples of experts on child rearing. (My dad’s dad, for example, was an itinerant Baptist minister with a serious drinking problem who would stay on the preaching circuit pretty much full time and return to the sod house on the Nebraska prairie only long enough to re-impregnate my grandmother. My mother’s dad, also a man who liked his hooch, was a saloon keeper, prize fighter and prison guard, sort of all at once, which meant that he didn’t have a whole lot of time to shower affection on his brood of eleven.

So what I’m saying is that my father, whose name was Bebe, wasn’t exactly a role model when it came to state-of-the-art child rearing, but fortunately for me, he too was crazy in love with his kids. And, in the end, that was really all that mattered. What really mattered was that my father showed me in his own unique way that I was what mattered most in his life. And that, I feel so fortunate to be able to say, is exactly what Ron and I showed our kids.

Posted:  8/5/2014

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