We learn a lot from our parents

My dad was a great man, and the best father I could have asked for. He was quiet, but a very dedicated man. He enjoyed the simple things in life. His faith was very important to him, although he never talked about it much. He was incredibly invested in his family, and would drive for 3 hours to see one of his kids play in a sporting event. He loved his job as a PE Teacher — he taught at the same school for 34 years before he retired.

My dad taught me a lot of things, as any father does. Some things you know exactly when you are being taught like: How to shoot a basketball, how to ride a bike, and how to count to ten. But there are other things that parents teach you that are a little deeper than skills. They are the characteristics and habits that make up who you are. These things you often don’t realize have been taught to you, but I believe that you can almost always trace these traits back to very simple and specific times growing up. Some days, I feel like my dad is still teaching me things. I say this only because on a very regular basis I look back and remember a specific time that something happened, and I will remember how my dad responded, and it is only in retrospect that I realize what that teachable moment did for me. These times are when I feel enlightened by the wisdom that my dad had in raising me. One of those times was when I was a freshman in high school. My dad taught me willpower. I think that most people would say that you can’t teach willpower, and that it is either something you are born with or you are not. However, I think my dad taught it to me. He did it through his actions not through his words.

Early morning workouts

One of the best memories I have of my dad was how he would always go to the gym in the mornings before work, I really want to emphasize morning, because it was really early. The gym we went to growing up opened at 5:30am and my dad was one of those people that would get there at 5:27am and literally be waiting for the manager to open the door. When I was a freshman in high school I was just beginning to take interest in working out, and I really wanted to play basketball on the varsity basketball team. My dad always encouraged me to workout, but he never forced it. He always invited. One day, My dad asked me if I wanted to go to the gym with him in the morning to lift and shoot. I’m pretty sure that I probably turned it down once or twice, but then a few weeks later he would plant the seed again. Finally, one day I said that I wanted to go, and I asked him if he could make sure that I woke up in the morning. He told me that he would come in and tap me on the shoulder one time and say “time to get up, Chris.” But, he made it clear that he wakes up early to go to the gym, NOT to beg one of his kids to get out of bed. So, if I wanted to go it would be my decision.

The first night I got my bag all packed and ready (just like my dad did), and I went to bed a little later than I should have. The next morning I woke up to the sound of my dad’s car pulling out of the drive way. I jumped out of bed, looked out the window and there was my dad’s tail lights disappearing around the corner. I was pissed, my dad left me! He said that he was going to wake me up! I remember getting really made, and I was thinking of what I was going to say to my dad when he got home (he didn’t have a cellphone that I could call him on). I remember the most frustrating thing was that I literally missed getting to go by like 2 minutes. It wasn’t like I slept in till 7:30 and got up just in time for school. I actually watched his car pull away from me. When he did get home, I asked him why he didn’t wake me up, and he said with a smirk on his face, “I tried.” I was in disbelief there was no way he tried to wake me up. “Yes I did,” he said, “just like I said I was going to, I tapped you on the shoulder and said time to get up. If you want to go next time maybe you should set an alarm or something.”

The next morning, getting up wasn’t easy, but it was entirely my choice and my decision. I remember waiting at the front door for my dad because I had beat him downstairs. I was still half asleep, but I was going to the gym.

Growing up

I don’t know what went through my dad’s head in times like this, but I like to think that he was smiling, and happy that his son was just beginning to grow up and have some autonomy. Now, I’m not going to say that I never missed a day of working out after that, but what I learned that morning that I got left was that in life when you want something you have to make it happen. Blaming someone else, or looking for something to complain about doesn’t get you anywhere. Literally the only thing it does is wastes more of your time, and decreases your postpones any chance you had of taking back control of the situation. I wanted to blame my dad because he didn’t wake me up, but who’s fault was it really?

I wonder how big of impact little moments like that have on people when you are growing up. It takes a wise parent to look for these teachable moments, and use them to make their kids better. If my dad had drug me out of bed that morning, would I have ever learned that lesson some other time? Would I have ended up playing varsity basketball, or college basketball? Would I have started my own business? Would I be where I am today?

I’m not sure, but I am glad it all happened the way that it did. Thank you, dad, for making me the man I am today.