Amy Roberts: Daddy issues
June 10, 2014
The only Father’s Day tradition in my family is the annual conversation we have where I call him and say, "Hi Dad. What would you like for Father’s Day?"
And he replies, "Nothing, save your money."
Then I ask to speak to Mom so she can tell me what to send him.
With Father’s Day quickly approaching Sunday, I decided a column dedicated entirely to my dad’s unique child-rearing methods would accomplish two things that will make him happy: (1) He won’t need to return it and (2) I didn’t spend any money on it. So here are a few of my favorite chapters from the Jon Roberts School of Parenting.
When I was in junior high I went through a phase where I refused to make my bed before school. Exasperated by my utter disregard for his rules, my dad called a place for troubled youth to inquire about sending me there. It’s called Boys Town and it’s where kids who kill their parents go. When he explained to the admissions counselor he wanted to send me there for a semester to "shape me up" she asked what I had done. He told her I wouldn’t make my bed. She replied, "If you send her here, she will make her bed. But she’ll also learn how to make a shank out of her toothbrush and she’ll use it to stab you by the time we send her home."
Then there was the time I went to my Senior Prom, and my dad, who is a hunter, decided to clean his shotguns on the front porch as he waited for my date to arrive. For some reason, he also made the poor guy prove he could change a tire before letting us leave.
A week before I turned 18, my dad announced he was taking me somewhere special. I assumed it was an early birthday gift — maybe we were going to my favorite restaurant. Instead, he took me to the county jail where I got a private tour of the facility. "In one week, you’ll be old enough to get locked up here. And I won’t bail you out, so don’t do anything stupid," he told me.
When I went to college, my dad had two rules. He said, "Don’t get pregnant and don’t get a tattoo. Everything else I can fix." I didn’t get knocked up, but I did get a tattoo. It’s on my ankle and apparently I just figured I’d wear socks around my dad for the rest of my life. But he saw it when I was home for a weekend and was so mad, he refused to send me money for the rest of the semester. When I explained to him I wouldn’t be able to eat, he sent me back to school with 92 packages of Ramen Noodles — four for each day left in the school year.
A few years after I graduated from college, I was living in Chicago and got a call from my dad. He was furious with me and informed me I was grounded. Since I was now 24 years old, and he was 500 miles away, I wasn’t too worried about him enforcing a no friends or phone rule, but I was curious what I did to upset him. Turns out, he’d received a notice in the mail explaining he was going to have his license revoked and there were warrants for his arrest, due to several outstanding speeding tickets in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. Which just so happened to be my exact route home to Omaha from college. I had tickets in every state I’d never paid. The car and the insurance had been in his name, and I naively assumed I was in the clear given the two-year delay. He paid them and made me pay him back, and charged me 28 percent interest for his "pain and suffering."
Lastly, a few years ago my dad and I were in South Africa for the FIFA World Cup. Between soccer matches we took a stroll through the streets of Cape Town and came across a strip mall where a waxing salon was advertising various treatments. My dad read the signage and asked me, "Amy, what’s a Brazilian?"
I was not about to tell him the truth, so I told him it was a fancy eyebrow wax. A few months later my mom and sisters called me freaked out, saying "Dad just told us he wants to treat us all to a Brazilian wax!" I think he is still traumatized by my little sister’s more accurate description.
In closing, I’d like to thank my dad for giving me just enough emotional baggage to work in a creative field, but not enough to be a prostitute. Happy Father’s Day!
Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley.