Remember When You Drove Your Dad Crazy?

Author:
Dr. James Dobson


When I was seventeen years old, the state of Texas granted me a license to drive. It was a bad decision. My dad had recently bought a brand-new Ford, and he let me take it out for a spin during lunchtime one day. That was another big mistake. Hundreds of my fellow students were milling around my school as I drove by, which gave me a great opportunity to show off. I also wanted to test a theory that had intrigued me. In our little town, there were huge dips on both sides of certain intersections to handle the flash floods that occasionally swept down our streets. I reasoned that if I hit the bumps at high speed, my car would sail over them. I was a big fan of Joey Chitwood, who was the Evel Knievel of that day, and I had seen him catapult his car over obstacles at the state fair. If Joey could do it, ... why not me?

Obviously, there was much that I didn't understand about the physics of three thousand pounds of steel hurtling down the road. I approached the intersection helter-skelter and careened into the first dip. There was a violent reaction. Kaboom! went the bottom of the car! Then I blasted into the second canyon. Kabang! My head hit the headliner and the car convulsed up and down like a gigantic yo-yo. My entire life passed in front of my eyes. But my Texas friends were awestruck. They said, "Wow! Look at tha-yet. He got ar under his tars."

A few weeks later, my good ol' dad came to me and said, "Uh, Bo," (that's what he called me) "I just took the car to the mechanic, and he said all four shocks have blown out. It's the craziest thing. Shocks usually wear out little by little, but the car is new and they're already shredded. Do you have any idea how this could have happened?"

The only thing that saved me was a momentary lapse of memory. At that second, I honestly didn't recall that I had hit the bumps, so I said no! He accepted my denial and I escaped with my life. A few weeks later, I was driving near our home when the steering column broke, sending the Ford into the curb. Fortunately, no one was killed. It was years later before I realized that I had blown the shocks and probably cracked the steering post during "the great physics experiment." Who knows what other damage I did to Dad's new car on that day.

By the time I admitted to myself that I was the guilty party, the statute of limitations had expired on my crime. My dad had forgotten about the episode and he never mentioned it again. Nor did I. My father went to his grave unaware of the stupid thing I had done. So Dad, if you're watching from up there, just know that I'm sorry and I won't ever do it again. I'll save my allowance for six years to pay for the damage. It was the only time I ever got "ar under my tars."

Boys have a way of frustrating and irritating the very souls of us dads. They leave our best tools out in the rain or they scramble them on the workbench. They lose our binoculars and they drop our cameras. Many of them are sassy, irresponsible, and hard to handle. Or they do things that make absolutely no sense to the rational mind, such as little Jeffrey hiding under the bed while his family ran through the neighborhood shouting his name. Of course, we fathers shouldn't complain. We were boys once who drove our own dads crazy too, so we should cut our sons some slack. Despite all the challenges associated with raising a rambunctious kid, one of the greatest privileges in living is to have one of them hug your neck and say, "I love you, Dad."

General Douglas MacArthur, one of my heroes, would agree with that sentiment. He was among the greatest military leaders of all time. He led the Allied armies to victory over the Imperial Japanese army in World War II and then commanded our United Nations forces in Korea. His surprise landing at Inchon was one of the most brilliant maneuvers in the history of warfare. These accomplishments on the battlefield explain why MacArthur is revered today, many decades after his death.

But there is another reason for my admiration of this man. It can be traced to a speech he gave in 1942, after he had been given an award for being a good father. This is what he said on that day: "Nothing has touched me more deeply than [this honor given to me] by the National Father's Day committee. By profession, I am a soldier and take great pride in that fact. But I am prouder, infinitely prouder, to be a father. A soldier destroys in order to build. The father only builds, never destroys. The one has the potentialities of death, the other embodies creation and life. And while the hordes of death are mighty, the battalions of life are mightier still. It is my hope that my son, when I am gone, will remember me not from the battle, but in the home." That is precisely the way I feel about my son and daughter.

From Dr. Dobson's book
Bringing Up Boys

Related Resources

Dad's Vital Role In Building Character Into His Sons 

Time Is The Greatest Gift To Your Child

Every Dad Has Some Regrets

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