A Weekly Column

By Joseph Walker



What are Dads for?

According to at least one respondent in a recent not-so-scientific survey, they exist for one reason and one reason only: "To take out the trash."

Of course, other respondents -- children in our neighborhood ranging in age from 3 to 11 years old -- had different ideas when the question was posed as part of a Father's Day project for our church congregation. Michael says we have Dads "so they can play with us." Kelsey is much more pragmatic. She says we have Dads "to go to work and get money for us." Ashley thinks Dads are there "so you can ask them questions," and Colby says we have them "to help us when we have problems." But I sort of like Kyle's answer. He says that "Dads are for being nice."

I'm glad that's true for Kyle. I wish it were true for all children especially mine.

The children also had different ideas about what their Dads do all day. McKenzie's Dad "works and golfs." Nathan's Dad "plays with toys at work." Levi's Dad "gets paged." And Auraleigh's Dad "goes to work where he eats all day and looks around for his wife" (I've got to talk to Raleigh -- Auraleigh's Dad -- about where to apply for that job).

Asked "What is your Dad's favorite thing to do?" most of the childrenresponded with play: basketball, four-wheeling, golf, water skiing, hunting and fishing. Watching sports on TV was also big, as was fixing cars. Jordan's Dad "likes to play around with reptiles" (remind me to stay away from the Price residence). But Leah seemed the happiest to report that her Dad "really likes to go outside with me and play games with me." Lucky Leah! Lucky Leah's Dad!

Some of the most interesting responses came when the children were asked "How will your Dad change once he turns 60?" (I guess 60 is the generic age for Really, Really, Way, Way Old, although I must tell you that the closer I get to 60, the less Really Way Old it seems). "His hair will be a little gray," said McKenna. "He might have a beard," said Nathan. "He will get kinda saggy on his face like all grandpas do," said Justin. "I think he'll get more serious and might slow down," said Rochelle. "He won't be as hyper," said Michael. "He will be like . . . confused," said Jonathan.

Uh, that was from Jonathan Walker. My son. And I'm already confused.

The question "What does your Dad say all the time?" was pretty revealing about family dynamics. Lots of Dads were quoted for those quickie commands we all use from time to time: "Put your shoes on!" "Roll up the Nintendo controls!" "Go to your room!" On the other hand, Frankie remembers his Dad saying, "A job worth doing is worth doing well." Justin's Dad says, "You're great, Just!" Adam's Dad says, "You know what I like about you? Everything!" And Chandler's Dad says, "I'm really proud of you." Wouldn't it be great if all our kids remembered "I'm proud of you" more than "Let me just say one more thing" -- the best-remembered fatherly phrase of the Walker children.

Reading the survey, unscientific though it may have been, I learned a few things. I learned that there are different kinds of Dads who impact their children's lives in different ways. I learned that it's the simple, common, ordinary things that seem to have the most impact (there wasn't a single reference to fancy houses, expensive cars or costly trips). And I learned that God gave us Dads to "love us" (Kyle), "take care of us" (Allyson), "protect us" (Madison) and "to walk us across the roads" (Tanner).

With or without the trash.

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--- (c) Joseph Walker


Look for Joe's book, "How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen? Home Remedies for an Ailing World." It is available on-line through and