There are many important traits needed to be a good father. But clearly, the one that stands head and shoulders above them all is the ability to be Awesome On Demand.
When a dad exhibits AOD, you can see it in the children’s face. Their eyes light up and their mouths go ajar and they stare in fascination as they realize that their dad is the most awesome dad ever.
I learned the art of AOD from my dad, who could pull off ridiculously awesome party tricks, such as shooting a tin can with my pellet gun. Backwards. Over his shoulder. Using a mirror. Seriously. He turned his back on the can, flipped the gun on his shoulder, lined up the sights and – boom. One shot, one ping.
And the key part of AOD is the finishing move – he merely set the mirror down and casually handed me back my pellet gun, much the way someone would hand you a phone when the call is for you.
He could also do cool tricks such as throw a pocketknife and make it stick into the side of a tree. And it always only took one shot for perfection. That’s how dads being AOD do it.
I have fortunately received the ability to be AOD, and I enjoy making my children believe that their dad is, in fact, overflowing with awesomeness. Because let’s be honest – I am.
Take, for example, the time I was walking up the driveway, having just retrieved the mail. My son was in the driveway shooting hoops with a few other neighborhood kids. He said, “Hey, Dad, catch” and sent a bounce pass my way. Without looking up from my mail, I took the pass and in one smooth motion fired off a 20-foot hook shot. I never had to look up, as I knew from the whooping and hollering that it was nothing but net.
The other night, I had a similar event. My son was playing with his slingshot, shooting small acorns at various objects. (Nothing living, nothing breakable. Rules are rules.) There is an abundance of acorns in my yard, as the few oaks I have produce roughly 85 percent of the world’s acorns. I based this on the fact that during autumn, the steady stream of acorns onto my roof makes it sound like a torrential rainstorm, and driving out of my driveway sounds like you are driving over bubble wrap.
I watched as he eyed his current target, the basketball goal. He fired one after the other, each shot missing, his frustration growing.
I watched him take a few shots and analyzed his technique. “Lemme see it,” I said. He handed me the slingshot. I studied it for a second, a little flair technique to add some style to my form. I picked up an acorn, loaded up the slingshot, and raised my hands eye level. I pulled back the acorn, lined up my shot, and let it fly. One shot, one ping.
I lowered my hand, extending the slingshot to Parker. “Front hand steady, line it up,” I said.
Parker had the AOD response look on his face. “Go on,” I said. “Hit it. First shot.”
He loaded up the slingshot. He held his front hand steady and pulled back the acorn.
He proceeded to rattle off seven of the next 10. Awesome is contagious.
So I will continue to exhibit AOD for as long as it is effective and has a wow factor. Granted, it’s more effective with a 10-year-old boy than a teenage daughter, who often finds such displays of amazingness embarrassing. (Who knew spontaneously juggling canned goods in the middle of a grocery store could elicit such different responses from two individuals.) But my hope is that one day, they will be able to share the AOD with their children, who will stare in amazement at making impossible feats possible. From one generation to the next, it’s good to be awesome.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.