Parents never think their kids are listening to them. They’re convinced our whole lives that their words fall on deaf ears. And admittedly, sometimes they do. But not always. There are some things that permeate our thick skulls and stick there forever.
So in honor of Father’s Day, I went through my mental catalog of quotes from Bob Bolen, who has made frequent appearances in this space.
- “Of COURSE I have a double standard when it comes to you and your brother. Of COURSE he can stay out later than you. Why? Because boys have sex and girls have babies.”
- During a driving lesson at age 16, Dad had been preparing me for one of Jersey’s infamous traffic circles the whole 45-minute ride. “When you enter the circle, always stay in the outside lane. Then you won’t get stuck inside. Remember, stay in the outside lane.” Then, as the Somers Point Circle came into view, it was, “Here we go, just stay in the outside OUTSIDE, OUTSIDE LANE!” (The only thing louder than his panicked voice during this “teachable moment” was the sound of his right foot stomping uselessly against the passenger floorboard and its nonexistent brake.)
- “What gave you the idea that this family is a democracy where all things are fair and equal?”
- “Where are you? We’re on our way.” (His response to my 11 p.m. call from a high school party when I was in no shape to drive home. On the way home, it was, “Your mother and I will ALWAYS come get you. Always. No questions asked.” And they did.)
- “No daughter of mine will throw like a girl.” (I don’t. And my dad or mom was at every high school softball, basketball and field hockey game — and I was terrible at field hockey. My only appearance in the highlights film was when my uniform skirt fell off in the middle of a play. I had shorts underneath, but it was my most interesting contribution to the sport.)
- “I’d have four more sons before another daughter. You’re killing me, kid.” (You brought a lot of that on yourself, Dad. I spent my adolescence telling Mom to have you tested. “There’s something wrong with your husband,” I said on more than one overprotective, eye-rolling occasion.)
- “Just because the state of New Jersey says you can drive doesn’t mean I do. Now you’ll take MY test.” (Thanks to his test, I can change a tire and jump a battery on my own.)
- What happened to ‘Shithead?’” (Dad’s nickname for a long-ago boyfriend, and although my mom wouldn’t say the word aloud, she held the same opinion. Of course, they were right.)
- “I will always worry about you, kid. I’ll never stop, no matter how crazy you think I am; no matter how old you are. It’s my job and I love you, your mom and brother more than anything in this world. (I will always roll my eyes in exasperation while telling Mom you’re insane. But I will always love you guys more than anything in the world and will never doubt for a second that I’m loved beyond measure. Happy Father’s Day, Dad. Want to go for a ride around the circle?)