What I didn’t learn

A FEW years ago I would use two examples to describe my dad’s failure with me: he didn’t teach me to kick a football and he didn’t teach me to shave.


Growing up in country Victoria Australian Rules Football mattered. The social life of a small town revolved around its club and the ‘cool’ guys at school played. I don’t remember having a football at home until my sister decided she wanted one when I was probably nine. I must have learnt something from my dad then, but not how to kick properly. You, dear reader, may not understand the importance of kicking properly. At family gatherings and school it was not uncommon for someone to suggest a bit of the dreaded ‘kick-to-kick’. In the end I could do a retarded kind of kick on the few occasions I accidently ended up with the ball.


On Sunday afternoon I planned to have a kick of a soccer ball with a teenager from church. As we headed out to the small town footy oval I discovered unpleasantly that he was bringing a footy as well. When I ended up with the ball in my hands I said something like, ‘I can’t kick properly. Can you tell me what I do wrong?’ and then he spent the next half an hour or so teaching me. It was great and I discovered a few issues with my technique. In the next few days I plan to practice a bit more. I guess I see being able to kick a footy as an important masculine attribute.


Now to shaving…I was the kid who started growing thick black hairs between my lips and nose about age 11. Rather than be delighted a sign of my maleness had arrived early I resented it. Every few days after school I would stealthily borrow my mother’s small silver nursing scissors and cut off any early signs of a moustache in front of the bathroom mirror. If a family member happened to walk by I’d pretend I was doing something else while I hid the scissors. This went on for a couple of years until someone, mum probably, noticed I needed a shaver and purchased one.


So I started shaving with my electric shaver. (I think I’m now on my fourth). And never did my dad give me a shaving lesson. Part of my desire for one is no doubt a romantic notion a father should teach his son to shave. The truth is I could shave okay, so there was no need for a hair removal lesson. I use the word ‘okay’ loosely, because even today I frequently miss spots. Once every few weeks I would get to work and discover a patch of little black hairs I’d missed that morning. Last year a man I admired at work ‘revealed’ that his dad didn’t teach him to shave during a discussion on what the modern man isn’t taught. I was like, ‘wow, even some cool guys had to teach themselves to shave’.


I began this post with a mention of my father. In some ways these two issues show that he isn’t someone who will initiate a course of action. He waits for circumstances or someone else to ask, or force, him to act. I’ve probably picked up a tendency to do the same thing and it’s something I need to be aware of and prevent.


The next morning I spoke out some further thoughts on my father and me:

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8 thoughts on “What I didn’t learn

  1. Likin’ the beard!

  2. You sound just like I imagined you would!   I don’t usually get it right, but that’s pretty much the voice I hear when I read your stuff.  Yes I read your stuff in my mind with an Aussie accent.   How odd you’re dad didn’t teach you to shave.  Even my father taught me to shave.   As far as sports, my dad didn’t teach me anything either, so I know what that’s like.   

  3. I loved this post, mostly because I can 100% relate. My dad never taught me a lot of things, shaving included. And I can’t totally second everything you said in the audio post too. My dad literally functions like I’m supposed to be psychic and telepathic! Not only does he expect me to know his thoughts but also have things figured out before he even does. Like if I’m working with him and he realizes he needs a hammer then he’ll expect me to already be standing there with it for him to grab. That’s always been a major point of contention in our relationship. So yeah, I’ve realized that even thought I hate that part of his personality I’ve sort of subconsciously absorbed it and often do it myself. Ahh! lolThanks for sharing! 😀

  4. Audio entry! Nice. Loooove the accent. Put me in the ranks of people who weren’t taught to shave by their fathers…well, he did teach me, but it was like waaaay later than he should have. Grateful that he did play catch and do other outdoor activities with me, though.Nice thoughts.

  5. Yeah….knowing about my dad’s background….that he pretty much raised himself and was on his own by 17 explains a lot about his parenting skills.  No, he wasn’t hands on.  He wasn’t comfortable talking about sex, or puberty, or girls, or feelings.  Much was unsaid.  I too was both looking forward to and embarrassed by puberty.  The silence surrounding the subject just seemed to make it that much more taboo.  I’m sure they were respecting my space and privacy but I was looking for answers and afraid to ask the questions……so things went unsaid.  Yeah, I learned to shave maybe 4 years ago at the age of 24 when my girlfriend suggested I start shaving with a razor.  Not a difficult undertaking….I did google it (among many other things that weren’t taught/learned naturally).I’m still amused at how each of our ‘deciding factors’ for maleness seem so silly and petty to each other but so gravely incriminating to ourselves…..it’s so good to air out this bad logic and expose it to the truth of who God is and who He’s made us to be.  Awesome post.  Glad you’re getting the hang of kicking a football! and dude, what’s in the background!?  A barn!?

  6. Just stumbled across the audio…yeah, it’s amusing!  That Aussie cadence strikes me funny (especially the blurbs I just couldn’t understand!)….thanks for posting an audio clip.  Is there any chance your dad is afraid to exert his authority….afraid you might challenge him and that’s something he isn’t unwilling to engage in?  As in he’d rather infer and be gruff at any failure to pick up on his ‘inferred/expected commands” than verbally state them and be defied?  I always approach these situations as what would it take for me to act like that….and work backwards from there.  I’m tempted to say that our father’s still need parenting in some areas……and that involving them on our journey is just the thing that walks them through their issues as well.  I choose to see a parent’s refusal to walk/be willing to help bring healing and restoration in their children as a failure and a refusal to address/acknowledge a weakness in themselves…a deep-rooted seed of bitterness against themselves that they’d rather not face…not because of our junk but because of their own.  That stubbornness and refusal and defiance and hiddenness is where many of us got it from (or so I’d like to assume).  Enough of my pontificating….off for some Roast Beef po-boys because that’s how we do down in Louisiana.  Great post Chris.

  7. @ward139 – Yeah, I reckon my dad’s upbringing has a lot to do with the way he acts and thinks. The pain in his life has created the man he is today. But I find it sad that he hasn’t been able to deal with more of these things and I hope that I’ll be able to redeem some of them. In the background of my pic is a hayshed. There is a barn nearby, but it’s not in the picture.When I watch American TV shows and an Australian comes on I always have to listen really closely to understand what they are saying, haha. I’m thinking ‘why can’t they speak normally?’I don’t think my dad is afraid of me challenging his authority in the examples I gave. I don’t think it’s really as complicated as having a reason like that behind it. More I reckon he just doesn’t think or it’s just not his habit. Thanks for the feedback, Eddie!

  8. My dad taught me a LITTLE bit about shaving…but he’s an electric guy…and I’ve always been a manual razor sort of guy.  Gillette Mach 3 for me! (or something like it)

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