Not Superman, But Still My Dad

I don’t know how many people will read this column, but I do know of one person that will definitely give this one a look. That would be my father, Arnie Rosen. Don’t worry dad, I won’t use your first name again in this column.

Now my relationship with my dad is not your typical father-son relationship, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing. I have a bit of a chaotic relationship with everyone in my family, but it’s especially the case with my dad. It’s not like my dad and I hate each other, and it’s not like my dad ever abused me or anything like that. It’s nothing serious or personal, it’s more of an inconvenient relationship. Let me explain.

When I was born my dad was 51 years old. Fifty-one years old exactly in fact, as my dad’s birthday just so happened to be the day I was born, Sept. 19. So my dad and I share a birthday, and I am 19 years old. In case you’re really bad at math, that means that my dad is currently 70 years old. I know, there are not many 70 year old fathers out there who are trying to get their kid through college.

It may just seem weird to you that my dad is so old, which it is, but it does have a pretty adverse effect on our relationship. It’s a cruel fact of life that after a certain point our age begins to catch up with us. It’s difficult to explain in writing, but the best way I can put it is that due to my dad’s age he is not always mentally there. He is basically stuck in the 20th century and has no idea how to fit in with modern society. It pains me to say it, but he is one of the most socially incompetent people I know, and trust me I realize how terrible that is to say about your own father. But, I can make an entire list of things he has done and does on a daily basis that make me hit my face out of both embarrassment and frustration.

This tends to cause me a lot of stress whenever I’m in public with him. I don’t have social anxieties, but it sure feels like I do when I’m with him. He’ll ask complete strangers questions that I already know the answer to, such as directions or help with a problem we may be having. But he doesn’t just ask, he sometimes badgers the person if they seem unwilling to help. Now this may not seem like such a big deal, and maybe it isn’t, but for me it is. I’m someone who is very self-conscious about whether or not I’m bothering another person, so whenever my dad does this I just get very uncomfortable.

I always feel better if I’m left in charge, but I know he wants to be a dad and handle things for his son. But more often than not, he doesn’t handle them all that well and I step in to fix things. A good dad is supposed to be like your superhero, helping you out and taking care of you whenever you’re in a sticky situation. But that isn’t the case with me, I hate to say it but with many of my problems, it’s hard for me to rely on my dad. And when we find ourselves in a bad situation, it’s like I’m the dad taking care of the problem at hand and he’s the son who needs help. His age just really affects his ability to perform even the most basic tasks. Not being able to view my dad as my reliable superhero is something that has always, and sometimes still does, bother me. It’s not easy to see him struggle with basic problems and social situations.

My dad also has the tendency to bring out the anger in me. Anyone who knows me has very rarely seen me yell, let alone yell at another human being to their face. But if they saw how I interact with my dad sometimes, they would think I’m a completely different person. Believe me, I feel like crap whenever I yell at my dad. I feel like a bratty teenager who doesn’t appreciate his own father whenever I yell at him. But he has a tendency to annoy me in a variety of ways, and sometimes I can’t control my emotions and I get frustrated with him. He’ll ask for my help with the most basic tasks, especially anything related to technology. He’s also constantly reminding me of things I need to do that literally do not have to be taken care of for another week. Again, I know this sounds petty and doesn’t seem like a big deal, but when I’m working on a paper I’ve been stressed about and my dad comes to my room to tell me to make sure my car has a full tank of gas before I leave for school when I’m not leaving for another week, or asks me to help him send an email for the fourth time in the past hour, you may be able to see why I get frustrated. It may not be terrible, but it is annoying and having to live with it for the entirety of your childhood through your teenage years will irritate you.

Now with all of that being said, I still love my dad to death and he has done so much for me. Aside from the obvious fact that he has kept me sheltered and fed me for my entire life, he’s helped me become the person I am today. Ask anyone to describe me and one of the first things they will tell you is how much I know about baseball. Well, I learned all that from my dad. When I was 11 and first started following baseball, my dad told me so many stories about old players, teams, and just really interesting facts. I got my love of baseball from my dad, and it’s something I still get to share with him today. He brings me to so many Mets games every year, and though we’ve seen them lose many more games than we’ve seen them win, there is nothing I love more than going to Citi Field with my dad.

I also know that even though he is a pain in my ass and causes me a lot of stress, he means well. The reason he is constantly reminding me of things so far in advance is because he’s looking out for me. He is always offering to help, and even though I very rarely need it and he often overdoes it, it just means he cares about me. He’s always asking strangers for help not just to make everything okay for him, but to make everything okay for me. What’s most amazing to me is that for all of my angry outbursts towards him, he never retaliates. He never yells back at me or gets angry at me because I’m angry.

My dad has taught me some extremely important lessons because of all of this. I always try and help out others whenever possible, I just make sure to not overdo it the way he does. The reason he doesn’t yell at me, aside from the fact that he loves me, is that he understands I’m not perfect. There’s only so much I can handle and sometimes I lose my temper because I’m a human being. So if someone loses their temper or makes a mistake, I find it easy to forgive them because my dad taught me that we’re only humans and we’re meant to screw up. Just because we do bad things, it doesn’t mean we’re bad people.

So dad, you may not be my superhero and maybe I can’t always count on you for help, but you’re my friend, my baseball buddy, and I try to be a better person because of the lessons you’ve taught me. I also know that you love me more than anyone else does, and it means everything to me that you make me feel so loved. It’s not your fault that you’re not always there mentally and that your son thinks you’re socially incompetent. A lot of 70 year olds are like that, and there’s every chance that when I’m 70 I’ll be the same way you are and my son will think that I’m socially incompetent. It’s not your doing, it’s just the way life is. I can’t promise you that I’m going to get frustrated with you less frequently, and after you’ve told me how much you loved this column for the seventh time I’m probably going to get a little annoyed and ask you stop bringing it up. But I know that one day you’re not going to be here anymore, and when that day comes what I can promise you is I’m going to cry more than I ever have in my life and I’m going to feel terrible for all of the times that I yelled at you. But until that day, let’s enjoy all of the great times that we’re going to have together, even if there’s a lot of frustration for me along the way. I can’t wait to start going to baseball games with you this season, and I can’t wait to see you when I come home for spring break. I love you dad.