Dave Meurer says he is “just a dad.”
Now, people who haven’t had the chance to read his books might think he’s dismissing his role of fatherhood, waving his hand in the air as if it’s just routine, like another day at the office, mowing the lawn, taking out the trash and other manly duties.
But doesn’t his description of himself remind some women of how they used to or still might casually introduce themselves to a group of strangers at a party: “Oh, silly me, I’m just a housewife and mother of five kids. That’s all.”
Meurer turns the world of fatherhood upside-down in “Boys Will Be Joys,” with splendid true stories (mostly) and a wonderful sense of humor (well, he thinks he’s funny, and it turns out he really is one heck of a humorist) about raising his boys, Mark and Brad.
From babyhood, the toddler and teen years, to college and manhood, Meurer spills the beans with much gusto. He even lets his wife, Dale, write a chapter. (His book contains 29 chapters.) Wow! What a guy! (Actually, it was blackmail from his
publisher, that if Meurer didn’t feature a chapter from his wife his book would not be published.)
“Boys Will Be Joys” is Meurer’s second book. His first, “The Hair-Raising Joys of Raising Boys,” received some general, outstandingreviews from men and women alike.
Once readers check him out, they will likely discover that Meurer is a devoted husband, who tries his darnedest to be fair to his boys, although the boys often disagree with their dad’s definition of “fair,” but will often inform him that what he enforces is “not fair.” Then there will be much pouting, double-talk…you get the idea. Sometimes it’s dad’s turn to pout and be quick to anger. But, being the optimistic Christian that he is, he knows there is a time to apologize, a time to admit he had been wrong, a time to show his sons that they are special,
a time to reprimand them, a time to forgive and ask for forgiveness, and a time to really listen and hear about their accomplishments, fears and hates.
On a more serious note, Meurer offers an excellent piece on the hazards of hatred found in the chapter titled, “The Day Everything Changed,” in which he explored his personal feelings and the emotions from others during and after the 9/11 terrorist’s attacks.
He had to face his own anger, and in doing so lost control temporarily by lashing out at those who shared a philosophy of “It was meant to be.” “It was the work of God.” “Why did God let this happen?”
Meurer was and is to be commended for his honesty in telling friends and others that he was swept up in the 9/11 minutes and lost his temper. His sons learned a great deal about the heart of their father and hownoble it is to not judge others.
The author gives other fathers a realistic representation of life in the Meurer household. To be in his sons’ lives meant and still means everything to him, from pretending to be “the mummy” and stalk his toddler boys at the playground, to accepting the fact that his boys have entered manhood. Being with his sons had been fun and crazy when they were little. He becomes sentimentally lost much later, seeing how his boys are no longer the kids he once chased at the playground, that they are grown men with their own lives to lead.
Why is it hard or embarrassing to get down to the child’s level and play with them? Meurer noticed how the fathers who brought their children to the playground and sat on benches, as if they were in their own separate dimension or space, and not in the world of imagination.
Some fathers were surprised to see how much fun Meurer and his boys were having.
Even the other children came up to Meurer and wanted him to be “the mummy” and chase them, too.
It seems so simple to understand, but who fully understands fatherhood in the first place?
Here are just several things that Meurer has learned about himself and his role of friend, husband and father:
1. It is never easy, but it is so easy to love his wife and kids.
2. Bringing Mark and Brad home from the hospital after their birth was the best that life had to offer and also the worst.
There’s nothing like having the babies spit up on daddy’s favorite shirt.
There’s nothing like changing soiled diapers, preparing the little boys’ bottles and/or singing off-key to soothe the screaming tots at 10 p.m., midnight, 2 a.m., 4:30 a.m. and 6 a.m., when suddenly the sun bursts through the window and the alarm rings…it’s wakey-wakey! Time to get ready for work while daddy glances enviously at mommy sleeping…then he pouts: it’s just not fair.
3. Boys will be boys, and there are days and nights when he makes a wish for girls, but, thankfully, it’s only temporary.
He’s stuck with the boys through thick and then, and that’s okay.
4.He adores watching his sons grow, learning “do unto others,” to be kind and respectful. He is proud of their progress in high school and college. He also says it’s okay to joke around and laugh.
There’s just not enough laughter in many households. But, do not overdo the jokes.
5. He hates watching his sons enter manhood. He turns into a sniffling, sentimental ‘ole fool because his boys are men and will one day leave home.
While he knows they can always come home on holidays or to visit—that they will always be welcome—he also knows the emptiness she will feel knowing they are gone.
Meurer never claims to be an expert at fatherhood. There are “wwaaayyy” too many parenting guide books around for that, enough to make any father and mother spin in circles.
Meurer is only stating a fact: “I am just a dad.”
And that suits him just fine.
Carol Wright is a freelance writer and resides in Winfield.