In my recent ruminations on fatherhood, I have been thinking more and more about my own dad, and how much I actually owe to him, for teaching me so much, even though I had no idea he was doing it until pretty recently.

I read a quote once, and sadly, I do not remember who said it, so I cannot give due credit for this little gem. I may not even be able to remember exactly how it went, but I will do my best. Just, anyone who reads this, know up front that a wiser man than me said this originally.

“When I was 16, I thought my dad was the stupidest man alive. When I was 21, it amazed me how much he had learned in just five years. Now that I’m a dad myself, I realize he was the smartest man ever born.”

I was that kid. At 16, I believed my Dad was the most clueless moron who ever drew breath. It may have taken me longer than five years to realize that I was the clueless moron, not Dad.

I felt like my dad was over-protective, too concerned with what might happen to actually live life, and just a general stick in the mud. Not to mention that he was a very strict disciplinarian who would not put up with any crap off a hardheaded teenager like me. Dad was lost, out of touch, just not cool.

Now that I have three boys who remind me a heck of a lot of, well, me, I really get Dad now. I understand that his over-protectiveness was about love, about wanting me to be safe. Having lived through his, I have learned to watch out for a lot of worst case scenarios myself. The time my toddler daughter thought it was a good idea to drop a nickel into her newborn brother’s throat comes to mind; had I not been alert and watchful, I might not have noticed that bluish tint that was creeping into my son’s complexion.

Another thing that I picked up from Dad that has served me well: holding the kids’ hands on walks. I have snatched each of my four children back from darting in front of a car at one time or another.

Sorry, readers, but I am going to cut this short and call my Dad and tell him thanks. I wish I had done it 22 years ago.