On being a Dad

I remember it like it was yesterday, the call from the Principal…”Mr. Pixley we need you to come and get your daughter she is being suspended today”…it wasn’t the first time but it was the last mainly because it was the last year of the last child in public schools. I texted her, asked what she did, and headed over to the school…

The Principal and I respected one another, we didn’t always see eye to eye but I let him know I appreciated and supported him as a parent…so the conversation was short and sweet…

“Whad’she do?” I asked (already knowing the answer) “She called her teacher an asshole”…”Ok whats the punishment?” “She’s suspended for a day”…Ok…

“You know I am not going to punish her right? This is like a vacation to her…”

“Why not?” he asked…

“Because I agree with her, he is an asshole, he drew first blood by calling her a name in front of her peers, he lost his cool and he should not have”…

The Principal looked down and said…”I agree and he will be reprimanded, but we cannot have students calling teachers assholes”…I agreed, we shook hands and I left…

It was at this point I realised that my job as a parent was pretty much over…my kids could think for themselves, would not sit idly by while people abused power and were not afraid of the consequences…

At the graduation I had at least 4 teachers come up to me as happy as the kids graduating, all saying the same thing “I am so glad you don’t have anymore kids, the Pixleys gave us the biggest fits and I don’t think I could take another one”…

What they meant by that was my kids were not afraid to research and call out bs when they saw it…what they meant was “Your kids think for themselves and it’s hard to keep them in line with the rest of the herd”…

Later I would discover that they had not been buying into the BS theology I had raised them with…they “thought it through” and realised that if God was a Father he would love you no matter what, you would always be his kid and hell was some kind of confused illusion they no longer supported they did not have an answer but they knew it did not jive with the picture that Jesus portrayed of the Father…” They knew the tithes and offerings were a joke because they saw where most of it went, to the “ministry”…they knew the spiritual politics and the using of people was wrong…they simply did not buy into the evangelical schtick because…well they thought for themselves.

Over the last many years we have all had in-depth and profound discussions as I have finally grown up…we have taken a hard long look at the theology and have been honest about it…and that brings me to my second memory…the times I came home from being away and had to make dinner with only a bag of frozen tater tots and some bacon that they did not want to cook…mainly because I got home AFTER the one horse town had closed its store and they had not managed to cook for themselves. In those moments I discovered I could be a gourmet chef with a creative mind and tummys would be filled and well, really, all gourmet recipes probably start out of a creative necessity…that necessity truly is the Mother of invention…and in that I learned that I was never limited, not by the cupboard or the clock and that there’s no such thing as “no answer”…

I’ve watched that idea translate into kids who fear nothing…rear-ended in LA traffic, told they would not get to the car rental place in time, they take out a red crayon and a cooler lid  stop traffic defying the odds of crazy drivers, LA heat and stupid rental car policies, because they were parents now themselves and refused to believe the schtick of some sales rep or tow truck office and simply would not accept life on the terms it came at them, they loved their own kids to much to acquiesce.

My own natural father packed his suitcase and his guitar when he found out my mom was pregnant with me…that is the last time we saw him, and I never did…so maybe it was a desire to fight the genetic absentee trait that made me take my kids in the divorce and do my darndest to be there for them…THERE being in the Principals office or the hospital room, there being anything they needed that I have, be it time, money, hugs, or trinkets…

They are my friends now…and as I glance over our storied history of diapers and homecoming crowns, principals office as well as doctors offices, basketball courts and municipal courts, from Junior High to Juris Doctorate it was really me who has been learning the most…they’ve taught me who I was when I had no idea how to be anyone else.

Being a dad is the most exciting and humbling adventure I have ever been on…and I am more Christ-like because they have shown me what love is supposed to look like…

My own son has his first child, he was honestly the one I worried about the most, he was so “male”…but observing him laugh and cuddle and just adore his daughter even as he changes her poopy diapers…I know the torch has been passed on…because really that’s the main thing about being a dad…it trains you in the fine art of adoration.

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