My dad is a seriously cool dude.  A guy who once played an impromptu jam session in a dive bar on the south side of Chicago with none other than the Chuck Berry. He is also quite the hero, literally, having saved countless lives over a thirty year career as a firefighter. Dad plays eight instruments, is an accomplished painter and taught me some of  life’s most important lessons.

lesson one: diversion trumps persuasion (and is far less work) 

Dad mastered the art of getting his way with this mental slight of hand.

Example: Mom has always dictated the dress code for any outing. Dad dutifully heads to his closet ahead of each public appearance, pulling out his best vintage hobo-meets-hippy couture. One look at self-styled volcanic ensemble of leisure suit meets biker chic and mom will happily allow him to wear his jeans and a “nice polo” no matter the occasion.

Dad for the win.

I put this wisdom to use with my kids, starting off any session of getting ready to go out with the most hideous of outfits. The resistance to those matching sweaters I bought melts like a snowball in South Beach when faced with corduroy overalls.

lesson two: punctuality is over-rated

My father is a man of many talents, being on time for anything is not one of them. Save for the wrath of his wife, being late never really caused all that much pain. I don’t sweat the clock, though I do set it ten minutes fast (like mom taught me).

lesson three: duct tape is magic

More than magic, in fact. My father firmly believes that all things can be made whole or better with properly applied duct tape. I’ve seen the man fix everything from broken glasses to broken bones (via a splint on a kitten’s leg) with the stuff. Dad has proven that duct tape is to Muggles what wands are to Wizzards. The new hot pink leopard print has chosen me.

lesson four: love is all you need

If mothers can kiss away the pain of any boo-boo, a hug from dad can make anything bearable. From a broken heart to the worst nightmare, having your dad hold you while you cry is a salve like no other. Those hugs still work.

lesson five: let her win

This one I’ve passed down to my husband. He hasn’t quite gotten it yet, but I have faith… and a credit card.

I’m now the mother of a nineteen year old who is headed off to boot camp, a high school freshman, and two grammar school kiddos. All that I am, have or aspire to be is built on the foundation of the lessons my father has taught me.

With the Day of Dad upon us, the cacophony of cliches about fatherhood is reaching its annual fevered pitch.  At what point did gratitude for the men who helped teach us so much, take the form of power tools and bad Bermuda shorts? I say we take back Father’s Day and find ways to thank dad that are befitting of the awesome.

Every day.