As a member of a network support group, I was called out one evening when the network went down. Because my wife was also out, I took my six-year-old daughter with me. I had isolated the problem to the power unit, but I was stymied for a while as to how to reset the system. Amanda tapped my arm and asked, “Daddy, will this help?” Then she handed me the manual for the power unit, and I reset it in minutes.
—Stewart Clark, Winnipeg (from Virtual Hilarity, 1999)
While on vacation, my wife, teenage son and I were strolling down a deserted beach when we saw a fisherman standing waist deep in the water, repeatedly casting a net into the surging tide. But it seemed every time he pulled it in, the net was empty. “Look how hard he works to support his family,” I observed. “We can learn a lot from his perseverance.”
“Aw, Dad,” quipped my computer-savvy son, “he isn’t working — he’s just netting the surf.”
—Patrick Louis, Toronto (from Virtual Hilarity, 1999)
My mom is a sixth-grade teacher. I was on the bus one day and realized two of her former students were sitting right behind me. As we came to my house, we could see big black circles of ashes where my dad had burned the leaves that had fallen. “What are those?” asked one of the boys, pointing to the circles. “Probably detention students,” his friend replied.
—Marian Elder (from Tales Out of School, 2002)
When I was a child, my dad was a manager in a supermarket and our family called him Head of the Meat Department. His title became a major issue one day when my bemused third-grade teacher showed Dad my latest composition, “All About My Father.” In a nine-year-old’s vain attempt to master contractions, I had reduced Dad to a “meat-head.”
—Barb Galbraith, Oakville (from Tales Out of School, 2002)
My co-worker, a third-grade teacher, asked her class to write about chores they did around the house. One child approached her and quietly inquired, “Miss, how do you spell bitch?” Taken by surprise, the teacher asked her to repeat the question. The student did. Deciding she should have a look at what the girl was writing, the teacher walked over to her desk and looked down. “At my house,” she read, “I help my dad when he has to take out the gar-…”
—Madelyn Lee (from Tales Out of School, 2002)
My eight-year-old nephew John came down late for breakfast, still in his pyjamas, and said that he was feeling ill. His mother felt his forehead but couldn’t detect any fever. She told him to get ready for school, then she’d check him again. Half dressed, John returned complaining that he felt worse. This time his forehead did seem a tad warm. “Better have your father look at you when he gets out of the shower,” she said. A short time later, John’s dad went to see him. His panic at finding his son slumped on the floor quickly faded when he realized that John was warming his forehead on the radiator.
—Alan Bonnell (from Tales Out of School, 2004)
For homework, I gave my Grade 7 geometry class a textbook assignment and had them correct each other’s work the next morning.
When we came to a question regarding the naming of lines and angles, one student began to giggle.
The lines and angles in the homework she was correcting were named Robert, Nancy, Beth, Mary and so on. I pointed out to the student who’d done the homework that alphabetical names such as line AB or angle EFG were needed and asked him why he hadn’t asked his parents for help.
“I did,” he answered. “My dad helped me when I ran out of names.”
—M.A. Polachok (from Tales Out of School, 2003)
My co-worker, a Grade 3 teacher, asked her class to write about chores they did around the house. One child approached her and quietly inquired, “Miss, how do you spell bitch?” Taken by surprise, the teacher asked her to repeat the question. The student did. Deciding she should have a look at what the girl was writing, the teacher walked over to her desk and looked down. “At my house,” she read, “I help my dad when he has to take out the gar-…”
—Madelyn Lee, Petty Harbour, Nfld. (from Tales Out of School, 2002)
One of my 16-year-old son’s classmates had just received a new textbook. She sniffed it and said, “This smells good.”
My son took the book and exclaimed, “This smells just like my dad!”
I operate a printing press.
—Reg Giesbrecht, Rosenort, Man. (from Tales Out of School, 1999)
Frequently I’m told how much I resemble Abraham Lincoln. Once, I was downtown waiting for the “walk” signal on the traffic light. A couple of teenage girls standing beside me suddenly greeted me by name. Surprised, I said: “I don’t know you. How is it that you know my name?”
“Your son, Aaron, is at Queen Elizabeth High School?” one asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
“Well, Aaron says his father looks more like Abraham Lincoln than Lincoln does. So you must be Aaron’s dad.”
—Bruce R. Roper, Calgary, Canada (from Tales Out of School, 1997)
One morning my neighbour’s four-year-old asked him: “Why are you making Mommy breakfast? Is she sick?”
“No, dear,” replied her father, “it’s Mother’s Day.”
“Oh,” she said, “then is every other day Father’s Day?”
—B. Stromquist, Calgary (from Reader Contributions, 1998)
My dad loved the fishing rod my daughters had given him for Father’s Day. The first time we went fishing, however, it accidentally fell overboard. He was devastated. I continued fishing, and soon I caught a big one. I reeled in my line-and pulled up Dad’s rod.
—M. Helps, Burk’s Falls, Ont. (from Life’s Like That, 1998)
For Father’s Day we decided to give my husband an extension ladder. My teenage daughter and I drove to the store to buy one and managed on our own to get it out to the car. Only then did we wonder how we were going to transport it. We finally rolled the windows down and slid it through, but decided we shouldn’t drive that way.
Just then a young man stopped and offered to tie the ladder to the roof of the car. He spent 15 minutes securing it with rope.
We were very grateful. But as he drove off, we discovered our good samaritan had tied the rope through the open windows and around the doorposts of our car. We couldn’t get in.
—Margaret Wilcox (from Life’s Like That, 1992)
Nine-year-old Kimberley and Michael, her dad, were comfortably seated in the restaurant she had chosen to celebrate Father’s Day. After they had had a chance to select from the menus they had been given, the waiter asked Michael what they would like. Indignantly Kimberley told the waiter that she was taking her father out and she was the patron he should speak to. Contritely the waiter addressed Kimberley from then on.
When they were finished, Kimberley asked the waiter for the check. Upon his return, he solemnly presented it to her. “Thank you,” she said–and handed it to her dad.
—Bruce Hayes (from Life’s Like That, 1996)
For Father’s Day, my colleague suggested our Grade 7 class make her foolproof strawberry freezer jam. With the recipe printed on the chalkboard, we began. Unfortunately, instead of adding two cups of crushed strawberries as required, the children measured out two cups of whole berries, which they then crushed. The resulting jam was gritty and pale pink, but I told my disappointed kids they could add more berries at home to save their jam. Stoically they bottled the crunchy gloop and stuck on their homemade labels.I enjoyed checking the labels before they left until I found one that said: “Roses are red. Violets are blue. I wouldn’t eat this stuff if I were you! Happy Father’s Day.”
—M.A. Polachok (from All in a Day’s Work, 2004)