Jack Averty: Who’s the daddy? The modest man who hides under a bushel
If mothers are fascinating beings, the fitting focus for any great David Attenborough documentary, then dads are your polar opposite.
Plain, simple, what you see is what you get.
Favourite TV show? Only Fools and Horses; Favourite band? The Rolling Stones; Favourite sport? Football.
They are easily drawn as well – average height, average weight and average receding hair line depending on age.
But dads are anything but average.
You might greet your friends or mum with a hug, while dad will take a strong handshake – nothing more, nothing less.
You say you have become a vegetarian, dad immediately cooks up a bacon butty.
You’ve called a man to carry out some DIY, dad will appear at your door telling you ‘I’m your man’.
We jest – kind of – but we all know dads are fantastic because, like mums, they care about one thing – you.
They just take an alternative approach to parenting – the no-nonsense approach.
They don’t really do pity or empathy, they come from a different era and will not have you moping around while life passes you by. That is not to say they refuse to accept the occasional moments of sadness and self-doubt, they are just firm, or, to use the phrase of a possibly-soon-to-be former Prime Minister, strong and stable.
There is far more to them than their simple approach to life – most dads are incredibly sly.
Not meant in a sinister way, dads are just very good at hiding things. You need a surprise kept under wraps, dad is your man.
You come home one day and find your bedroom has been redecorated, or the kitchen knocked through, or a new giant TV plonked in the living room – dad decided they needed to be done so they got done.
For the retired dads or those with a few days off alone, sitting back with no work and endless re-runs of sporting entertainment just is not going to cut the mustard.
“Dad, what’s this letter here from the Salvation Army for you?” Yes, it turns out dad has been donating generously to charity every year for decades and never thought to mention it.
But why would he? What is to be gained by telling the world and his wife that he donates to charity? He knows it’s the right thing to do so he does it, no bells and whistles.
It is a fascinating contrast given millennials and the rise of social media – we crave praise for even the most mundane acts of kindness. We expect a Nobel prize for picking up a bit of litter.
Dads do not like to overstate things and many of us will be completely oblivious to some fascinating facts about their lives and what they have done. Some may pop out years later when you’re randomly sat at dinner and asking, what you think is, a dead-end question. Then out comes how they’ve met countless celebrities, cured the common cold and been knighted – twice.
His response to your barrage of questions about how on Earth he never told you all of this?
“I didn’t think it was that important.”
That’s not being modest, he genuinely believes it was not important. Why? Because the most important thing in his life now is you, whether he shows it or not.
Mums are the obvious moulders of your life, the ones who you can literally see pointing you in different directions, teaching you life lessons and riding the roller coaster of life with you.
But the thing is dads do the same, they just keep it hidden. You will find yourself doing things, such as maybe holding doors open for other people or donating to charity, not because you were ever taught to do it you just witnessed your dad doing it and it stuck. No sit-down talk, no deep life-assessing conversation, just a bit of watching. He never impressed on you that you should do these things, you just saw your dad doing it and knew what was right.
One thing that is vital this Father’s Day is that those of us with dads tell them how much we love them and how much we appreciate what they have done for us. They will give a limited response and you certainly won’t be getting the fanfare you expect for saying the nicest thing you have ever said to him.
That’s not the point of it, the point is, as millions across the country will tell you, many do not have a dad. Their dad has either sadly passed or was never there in the first place.
In day-to-day life your dad is just there, you would struggle to list on one hand what he does for you each day while with mum you would run out of fingers. He does not rush around after you picking up dirty laundry, he just keeps a watchful eye from a distance and makes sure all of his nuggets of wisdom are passed on as subtly as possible without you even realising you have picked them up.
As you get older you can look back and realise actually just how much your dad did, or still does, for you. Because of their understated parenting style you may not fully appreciate it at the time.
But imagine if you look back and never had any of this growing up? Many didn’t and really because of that, through what you think have been life’s trials and tribulations, you have had it easy.
When you tell your dad how much you love him tomorrow make sure you are in touch with another emotion – appreciation.