"The Best Dad in the World": A Rubric for Dads Everywhere

Today all across the globe people are saying, writing, typing, and skyping "You are the best Dad in the whole world." I'm sure most everyone really means it, but sincerity doesn't make it true. A statement of such weight warrants defense, explanation, evidence. Before you tell your dad "YATBDITWW" this Father's Day, take some time to carefully consider why he is such. If you need some inspiration, consider the rubric and scoring for Brian Payne below:


Every Dad has their culinary idiosyncrasies. My dad's in order of descending awesomeness:
  • Smoked meats- Phenomenal, it doesn't get any better than meat smoked to perfection with TLC by Brian Payne. If you blew off all three of his children's grad parties you missed out big time, and you still owe me $20.06 for my Dell Inspiron 1505. (+75 points)
  • Homemade Ice Cream- Despite Mom's attempts to sabotage make it "low(er) fat" he's held strong and still makes the best ice cream I've enjoyed to date. (+55 points)
  • Venison- "Providing for his family" old school style with a basement freezer full of meat he killed (+50 points)
  • Chili- A large hole in his game: in our family my Mom makes the chili. (-30 points)
  • Vegetables- Sadly, with age he has succumbed more and more to healthy eating and strayed from the traditional "Ron Swanson diet" that typifies fatherly eating values (-45 points)


What's more iconic than a father and son playing catch in the backyard? Can't we collectively agree how awesome it is Peyton/Eli Manning followed in their father's footsteps to play quarterback in the NFL? (sorry Cooper) Well, for the first 18 years of my life I chose two sports my Dad initially knew (and cared) very little about: soccer and tennis. Had I chosen basketball, baseball, football, golf, or even volleyball we would have had those traditional backyard sessions of passing down athletic wisdom.

As it was, my dad had to go a different route. Rather than teaching his son the art and nuance of a sport, he became a learner. He watched every game not only to support me, but also to understand and appreciate the sports I loved. After years and years of watching both sons' soccer games, I'd wager my dad could coach as well as (or probably better than) any coach I had growing up, especially in ball movement and spacing. At the time I remember feeling strange knowing more about a sport than my dad. Looking back, I realize how great a service it was for him to forgo the instructor role and engross himself a subject important to his son. (+175 points)

Breaking Bad

  • Watched all 5 seasons (+20 points)
  • Loved it (+35 points)
  • Got my mom to watch it... (+100 points)
  • ...and love it (+3,000 points)

Shared hobbies/interests

Big game hunters

My dad and I share some interests, but we're nowhere near an "A River Runs Through It" fly-fishing level. My dad loves hunting. He owns no less that 15 guns, manufactures his own bullets, traveled to Africa just to hunt (no lion unfortunately), and our house accumulates more animal heads every year. For me, hunting registers between "I'd rather not" and "Sure, sounds alright" depending on the temperature and time of day. He did all he could to help create a love for hunting in me: started young, bought me a gun, always had stashes of candy bars on our hunting trips, hiked for hours though the woods at 5am (while I sat half sleeping/half eating candy bars) to push deer towards me. It just didn't work.

I'm sure he would prefer for me to love hunting, just like I hope my children and I have shared hobbies. Common interests create experiences and conversations you otherwise wouldn't have, and what father wouldn't want that with his kids? But I never felt like he was disappointed in me. I always knew I was free to choose my own interests and have fun how I wanted to have fun. More than anything he wanted me to be my own person. Shared hobbies are great, but a dad who encourages his children to become who they were made to be, that's Grade-A material. (+225 points)

Fanny Packs

If you don't have a photo of your dad with a fanny pack, he's clearly not in contention. Nothing says "Yep, I have kids" quite like this:

You may think they are just bad taste from a past era, but there's so much more to a fanny pack: they symbolize the true spirit of a dad. Men all around the world who could once upon a time choose their wardrobe based on appearance find themselves on vacation and responsible for the inevitable overflow of children's personal items that can't fit into Mom's purse. Cameras, tickets, sunscreen, inhalers, bug spray, wallets, sunglasses, keys, phones...can you think of a better option? If your dad donned the pack in service to his children, give him the mad props he deserves this Father's Day. (+300 points)

Sage Wisdom

At least in the traditional sense my dad doesn't run away with this category. Not because he isn't full of wisdom, but because in some ways I still don't know how wise he actually is. He doesn't have lines you could put in a movie, and I don't have many "I'll always remember the time my dad told me..." moments.

My dad has always erred on the side of allowing us kids the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them rather than trying to teach us his "right way" of doing things beforehand. I wonder how many times he decided to hold his tongue as he watched me make the wrong choice, but decided allowing me to choose for myself would help more in the long run. The best teachers aren't those who know the most, or even those who express knowledge well, but those who teach others how to learn. Rather than try to pass down all the wisdom he accumulated over his lifetime, he taught us how to gain wisdom through the circumstances we meet along the way. (+500 points)

To be a Dad: Never Take, Always Give

Reflecting on all these rubric items left me with one resounding thought: a dad is one who never takes and always gives to his family. Whether it's learning a new sport, painfully watching your kids make mistakes, or looking stupid in a fanny pack, the call of fatherhood is one of selfless sacrifice, never expecting or wanting anything but love in return. 

Even now that I'm 25 and a dad myself, I still meet a small measure of resistance when I try to give my dad things. For a while I thought maybe he was too proud to receive, but now I realize our entire relationship over the past 25 years has been about him giving to me and not taking anything for himself. It's instinctual, you can't unlearn what you were made to do.

The beautiful truth is, when you love someone you can't lose. In a way, my dad never "sacrificed" for his kids, he loved us too much to feel like he lost something. In love, forsaking yourself becomes self-serving because it's the only thing you want to do. So dad, when I buy you a Cadillac for you'r 70th birthday, it's your own fault. It's not a sacrifice, it's a joy. That's how you taught me to live.

1 comment:

  1. Justin, I LOVE this! Happy Father's Day and God's blessings to you and your family.

    Sherry Millen