41: Cool Dad

41: Cool Dad

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Dad

Cool Dad

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought;
and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.

~G.K. Chesterton

My stomach dropped. There was nothing I wanted to hear less than the words coming from Mrs. Nelson’s lips.

“This is just a reminder that Shadow a Student Day is tomorrow!”

“Dear God, please, oh please, help Mom to be free tomorrow so Dad will not have to come!” I prayed. What would people think of him? I put all negative thoughts aside with the determination that Mom would be able to come, and that was the end of it!

The bell finally rang and relief swept over me. This was one of my favorite days, when soccer practice was cancelled and I could go home, having extra time just to relax.

I walked in the kitchen door and smelled fresh bread. It was one of Mom’s baking days! She met me with her usual warm greeting.

“Well, hello there! How was your day?” That along with two hot slices of bread with butter hit the spot. Junior high was turning out to be a little worse than my expectations.

“Oh, it was all right,” I mumbled.

“Anything exciting happen?”

“Not really. It was just another day. . . .”

Her face showed her disappointment, but then at the same time her eyes kept probing mine trying to read if I was being truthful. It worked. She saw there was something on my mind.

“Heidi, are you sure you have no news for me?”

I explained that Shadow a Student Day was tomorrow. And go figure, Dad was walking in the back door just in time to hear the news. I quickly asked Mom, “You are free, aren’t you?”

“Well Heidi, I have lots of errands to run and commitments I’ve already made for tomorrow. Maybe Dad will be willing to go.”

“You better believe I’ll go!” Dad grinned. I loved Dad’s upbeat spirit and enthusiasm. He had made life so exciting and adventurous for the family and I adored him for it. But would people see him the way I saw him?

His thin body and practically bald head, with a weak attempt at a comb-over, was not exactly what my friends would consider a “cool dad.”

Dad was also much older than most of my friends’ dads, who were closer to the age of my older siblings.

Their dads would be professional businessmen, doctors, dentists, or engineers. Dad was a draftsman and he worked in an office at home.

His choice of clothing was not anything close to stylish. Faded jeans with an old T-shirt was his daily outfit, so he could juggle the farm and handyman jobs around the house as well as draw plans in the office without changing clothes. Dad was very efficient and would do the most practical thing that would save him even the slightest amount of time throughout the day.

“Do you want me to come with you Heidi? I would really love that!”

“Sure, Dad. That would be cool.” He was either a really good faker or he really did not notice my lack of enthusiasm as his face brightened and he started talking about how much fun it was going to be. I did my best to make up for my rude reaction and smiled. Don’t get me wrong, I really would have been stoked about the idea of spending a day with Dad, just as long as my friends and their dads didn’t have to meet him and spend the day with us.

Well, whether I liked it or not, the next morning came. Dad was ready long before I was. He was sitting in his usual position in the kitchen, as he always did when anxiously waiting on someone in the family to go somewhere — usually Mom. He perked up as I came up the stairs from my bedroom.

“You all ready to go?” He was smiling from ear to ear by then. My half smile didn’t quite compare. The car ride to school was practically an interrogation.

“Who are all your friends? What do you like to do at lunch? Do you like all your teachers?”

Dad was doing his best to get a sneak preview of the portion of his daughter’s life he was about to see.

Walking onto campus, Dad led with his confident brisk walk. I realized now where I had learned to walk so fast, but today I lagged behind.

We walked into my first period science class with Ms. Hall. My predictions were not too far off, as Dad definitely stood out visually and vocally. As soon as he entered, he was making friends. The once awkwardly silent room soon began to buzz with conversation. Dad had some way of relating with each of the parents there. Whether he knew them, their cousin, or their brother’s wife’s dog, he made the connection.

I looked around the room, checking my friends’ expressions and reactions. All of my classmates looked at Dad with such wonder. But it was not the confused, freaked-out wonder I had expected. They liked him!

“Your dad is so cool!”

“I love your dad!”

“Your dad is so awesome!”

My classmates actually liked him! I was in shock!

Dad and I walked in sync, side-by-side to my next class. Pride surged through me just to be walking beside him. My friends were actually interested in his crazy stories of catching the skunks that frequently stole eggs from our farm, and how he put an owl box up in the old cottonwood in our backyard! How had I been so oblivious?!

The things that I was most embarrassed for my friends to see in my dad were the same things that made me love him the most! I turned and looked up at him.

“I love you, Pops!”

~Heidi L.R. Zúñiga

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners