When I was a baby, my mom had a well-deserved night out with friends while my father watched me. Upon my mother's return, she found me fast asleep in a diaper held together by electrical tape. Apparently, when changing my diaper, my father used so much lotion that the sticky tape on the diaper was no longer sticky. Hence my dad's parenting credo: You may not do everything perfectly as a parent, but as long as the job got done and no one got hurt, it's all good. And really, more than anything, I'm just grateful he used electrical tape and not a staple gun.
Here are a few other valuable parenting/life lessons I've learned my father:
Nothing is as hard on you as it is your parents. If I'm tired, my father is utterly exhausted. If I'm hungry, he's starving and hasn't eaten for days. If I hit some traffic, he was stuck in bumper to bumper while having to pee and the next bathroom wasn't for miles in sight. Bottom line -- you can't win. Don't try.
Don't be afraid to improvise. Similar to the electrical tape story, on one occasion, my father was sent to the grocery store to buy some milk. He came home with loose leaf paper. I'm still unclear as to how that happened but as my father explained, I was welcome to express my disappointment on the paper provided. This incident may be why I became both a writer and lactose intolerant.
Any baseball player who is Italian and from Brooklyn is the best player ever. Now that I have a son, this self-explanatory sports lesson has come in handy.
Be an involved parent. Anything I was involved in or interested in, my dad was right there with me. Whether it was chaperoning my high school dance (where he danced to Salt-n-Pepa's "Push It" and taught my more delinquent classmates how to play craps), the field trip where he yelled at a cop (thus winning over my entire fifth grade class as a hero) and, when I showed interest in stand-up comedy, he even began writing a few of my routines. Admittedly, I always loved having his support; he's a great writer as well as very funny, but the routine about my gynecologist was just one step too far.
All of our relatives look just like my dad, even when they don't. My father has brown eyes, dark brown hair and tannish skin. My son has blue eyes, light brown hair and fair skin. If you ask my dad though, my son is like a mini-him. For father's day, I'm taking my dad to get his eyes examined.
Parents are always looking out for you whether you know it or not. One of my favorite memories that I've actually never shared with anyone (so it makes total sense to share it here on The Huffington Post) is of a class trip to Washington, D.C. We were on a bus late at night heading back to New York and I was sitting next to my father drifting in and out of sleep. Someone nearby turned on a light and I heard my dad say, "Excuse me? Can you shut off that light? My daughter is sleeping." It was a simple gesture but that moment showed me that even when he doesn't know I'm listening, he's always looking out for me.
Details aren't important. The big picture is. Out of all of my teachers, friends or any musicians I've been a fan of, my father has never gotten one of their names right. My math tutor, Mrs. Hollander was referred to as "Hollandaise," my friend David was known as Joe and the popular rapper, Pitbull, is "Redbull who may give you a headache but he gives me a blinding migraine."
Expiration dates are optional. There are salad dressings and mayonnaise older than me in my father's fridge. I think when you can start celebrating birthdays for your condiments, it's cause for concern. Regardless, I admire his sense of loyalty towards anything he owns be it a jar of mustard, a dated 1970s polyester suit or his 8-tracks of Neil Diamond.
Keep the family no longer with us alive in your heart. Few things are better than my father's stories about growing up in Brooklyn, his parents or the mischief his brothers and he got into. Despite many of the characters in his anecdotes no longer being with us, they continue to live on whenever we talk about them. Of all the greatest gifts, this is the one I most cherish and I'm so grateful that my father is such a character that I'll have stories about him for years to come.
This post is part of HuffPost Parents' Father's Day series, exploring the lessons our dads taught us about parenting.
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