An open letter to the dad in the driver’s seat of the grey Toyota Tercel

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

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Until yesterday I had never felt the urge to write an “open letter to (insert important person to you)” or to thank a person in “(airplane row)(airplane seat)”

Yesterday though I saw the P&G commercial thanking moms for all they do for maybe the ninth time, and for whatever reason, I finally felt too frustrated with something about it to keep from writing out my thoughts.

The commercial on its own is great. It shows a child grow from baby to an Olympian and shows a mom nurturing the competitive spirit in the child and documents her support through the tough times and the good ones. I have a mom who did those things and while she didn’t console me all the way to the Olympics, I never felt it was her fault that I didn’t make it.

So, I do like these ads. I am grateful that I have a mom who I also think of as a best friend and a mom who supported me. I’m sure others look at the commercial the same way and think about how great their mom is. I only like these ads individually though because I always assume they’re part of a two, or maybe even three (for grandparents or something) part series that eventually thanks my dad.

But that part never comes. Others have talked about why it’s important in this day and age to include dads in the conversation way more eloquently than I’ll ever be able to. But what I hate the most about this commercial isn’t something from this day and age, it’s something from the day and age of the 80s and 90s that has gone unrecognized that makes me angry.

It’s not me the dad they’re insulting—I still need to earn my supportive Sports Dad badge and promise to work hard supporting my girls (at sports or whatever they need supporting in) as they grow. For me, it’s my dad the Sports Dad who is being so woefully underrepresented and so blatantly ignored.

My dad the elite amateur athlete who raised another elite amateur athlete (my brother). My dad who took us to hockey practices at 6 in the morning. My dad who coached my soccer teams, my curling teams and who skated in our father and son hockey games. He’s the reason I can’t watch these commercials without saying something any longer…

“Dear dad, or the man in the driver’s seat of our old grey Toyota Tercel as we make our way to a hockey game, soccer practice or curling bonspiel

I’m not good at salutations at the best of times but I’m sure you can identify with this greeting. You remember the car, the one we crossed the border in sometime as I sat excitedly in the passenger seat, ready to take my Canadian hockey skills to northern New York state. Those were fun days for sure. I know those drives weren’t short, so thanks for driving me. It was a lot of fun for me to play these games and score those goals even if I was just on the house league team and was never going to play in the NHL. Those moments built my confidence and increased my love of sports.

Thanks for coaching me for so many years of soccer as well. I enjoyed the opportunity to play forward so many years even if midfield was probably a position better suited to me. I’m even thankful for the one time you had me play in goal. Even though I was terrible because I still wanted to score goals, it was humbling to spend a game as the last defense for our house league team. I can’t imagine it’s easy trying to coach 16 8-year-olds, especially when there were flowers on the field to be picked and smelled, but I was proud you were the coach. You taught me how to be a member of a team instead of an individual on the same field as other people wearing the same coloured shirts as me.

Oh, and thanks for the curling memories too. Like the time you drove all three of us to the provincial school championships. And the time we won our club championship as a family. And then, just last year, when me, you and Zach made another historic run to the City of Ottawa finals. Not everyone thinks of curling as a sport but I’ve learned that that’s irrelevant if you’re having fun and making memories that last a lifetime. Our curling moments are as memorable as any I’ve been a part of.

I just wanted to thank you for putting in all those miles and spending all those hours with us in case you’ve been watching the commercials that play during the Olympics and have been waiting for the Thanks Dad one. It doesn’t come, I’ve watched long enough to figure that out. So I’m hoping this thank you can take the place of that commercial.

Because my thanks isn’t just from me, it’s also from my kids. The great thing is that because of you, they don’t have to worry about me struggling to find out what it means to be a Sports Dad. You’ve set the mold for me. You’ve made sacrifices and I’ve seen them, taken note and am ready to help my kids grow through sports. All I need to do is take the lessons you’ve taught me and apply them to my own children.

Thanks Dad.”

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