The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree

In honor of Fathers’ Day, I’d like to dedicate a post to all the strange idiosyncrasies and important lessons my dad taught me that have stuck with me over the years. I’m doing this partly because I feel like I don’t tell him enough how much I really appreciate him, and partly because I couldn’t get to the store in time to send a card. Although I did send an e-gift card. (Guys don’t really care about cards anyway, right?)

Guys generally dread this aisle anyway.

I mentioned earlier that he’s the sole operator of our family farm, in addition to working full-time at FedEx. He’s always been busy, which may be an indication of where I got my crazy work ethic from.

A panorama of an area near our farm, which is located around Alamo, ND.

Somehow, even though he was almost always working, I don’t remember a lot of “work dad.” I just remember my dad. I remember getting excited when I heard the rumble of the FedEx truck coming down the street from my backyard sandbox in the summer; I knew Dad was coming home to take his lunch break. I remember afternoons playing with lawn ornaments and barn cats at the farm with my grandparents while my dad cultivated, seeded, and harvested. I remember the half hour drive there and back — It was never monotonous, like it is now. The drives are memories I always recall as fun experiences, especially when I giggled from the rolling hills “tickling my tummy,” when my stomach was left at the top. (Yes, there are actually hills in Western ND.)

Sometimes I don’t think he realizes how much of him has really rubbed off on me.

  • Taste in music — Some of my most vivid childhood memories are of dancing around the living room in the small townhouse my family occupied until I was three. Whether it was Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Queen, or the Steve Miller Band, I rocked out. (And I still do, to the same bands.) There are volumes and volumes of documented home movie footage of mini Kaitlin dancing, since my mom chronicled a portion of nearly every day of my life on her ancient dinosaur camcorder for at least my first 5 years.

But my favorite song he played was “The Bumblebee Song,” named for the album’s cover and the song’s music video. “The Bumblebee Song” embedded itself somewhere in the back of my mind until my mid-teens, when I realized it was really called “No Rain” by Blind Melon. It remains my favorite song today, likely because of the memories I associate with it, and because I love the lyrics. I unearthed another Blind Melon song played almost as often as “The Bumblebee Song” in my living room dancing days called “Change,” which I now have a line from tattooed on my foot.

  • Q-Tips — I think my dad may have been joking when he said, “If there’s one thing I teach you, remember this: Always buy brand-name Q-Tips.” But I’ve learned there are some things you just can’t skimp on. And apparently Q-Tips are one of them. I’ve never fully understood why this is so, but I’ve never in my life bought a store-brand ear cleaner.
  • Love for writing — My dad graduated from the UND with a degree in journalism and advertising. He’s always loved reading and writing. Although he doesn’t make a career of it, and rarely has free time to rekindle his passions, that portion of his personality was somehow still passed on to me. I’ve been reading and writing for fun since I was in preschool.Throughout elementary school, I wrote and illustrated short stories and comic books and sold them to my friends. Once I got older, I was the editor of my high school’s yearbook and wrote for the local newspaper. I’ve had newspaper internships and worked for the Grand Forks Herald for a year. I’m currently majoring in Communication and English. The trait that has shaped my whole life was largely passed down by my dad’s inherent interest in writing and my mom’s stay-at-home dedication to teaching me to read by age 4.
  • Those silly little phrases, they stick — When I was really little, I remember it being a law in my house that according to my dad, “The number one rule in the tub is:  Try to keep the floor dry.” I said this when helping at my younger siblings’ bathtimes. I guarantee I will say this to my future kids. I even say it when giving my boyfriend’s dog, Addi, a bath.
  • Vocabulary and sense of humor —  We used a rather varied vocabulary in the Ring household, and an interestingly cynical sense of humor resulted. For a senior project in high school English, I actually made a “dictionary” of Ringisms, words and phrases we made up in our household that refer to specific inside jokes. It wasn’t uncommon to hear something like, “Make sure that garbage goes in the garbage receptacle” or “Stop with your incessant chatter” in my house. Some of our Ringisms were words like “consuctor,” or someone who eats excessively and quickly, and the phrase “armpit to armpit” refers to a state when people are crammed closely together, like in a small diner. People sometimes give me odd looks because of the way I say things, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
It’s such a common thing for people not to want to turn out like their parents. But I don’t think there’s a way you can’t. When I think about it, so many of my idiosyncrasies I developed from my parents are so deeply embedded into my personality that I wouldn’t be able to extract them if I tried. And I don’t know that I’d want to.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but kids singing Rihanna songs shock me.

You may recall my rant about the kinds of TV shows my 10 year-old sister watches in comparison to the shows I watched at age 10. Well, I think this tops it.

I was just getting back to my apartment and noticed three little boys playing and riding their bikes around the block. I parallel parked (flawlessly, may I add) on the street as the little boys rounded the corner by my building. They were playing some imaginary game and yelling to each other. One was really small, maybe 4 or 5, and the other two were probably 8 or 9 at the oldest. As I grabbed my bag from my backseat, the littlest of the group passed my car, tailing their caravan.

“Hi!” he greeted me in his cute little munchkin voice.

“Hi!” I said back, as I made my way to the back door of my building.

With my back turned to them, I was still listening to their little conversation. All of a sudden, I heard the little munchkin voice raise above the other two: “SEX IN THE AIR — I DON’T CARE … uhh. Um. SEX IN THE AIR! I DON’T CARE!

He kept repeating those two lines from Rihanna’s “S&M” over and over even after I’d gone inside. Why were those the two he picked up on?! I’m pretty sure “OMG” was the exact thing going through my mind so, of course, immediately after I got to my unit I had to sit down and blog like crazy about it.

As I was placing the link in the previous paragraph, I found out that you actually have to log in to your YouTube account and confirm you’re 18 to view the music video for “S&M” because the “content may contain material flagged by YouTube’s user community that may be inappropriate for some users.” Well, with a song title like that, what do you expect?

Flattering. A clip from the video.

Every time I hear songs like “S&M” on popular Top 20 stations, I cringe a little. And this is precisely the reason why. I don’t plan on having kids for a million years, so it’s not that I’m necessarily thinking like a parent, but I can’t help but think of my little sister. I was shocked when I learned she knew all the words to all the Ke$ha songs on the radio. Now, every time I hear a song with semi-scandalous lyrics on the radio, I think of my little sister singing it.

The second I heard “S&M” while driving to work one day, I was honestly surprised it could go on the radio, thinking of the naive little ears that the risque lyrics would find their way into. It’s awkward enough hearing someone else’s 5 year-old singing about “sex in the air.” I’d hate to be the parent who has to explain to him why he can’t sing that at the top of his lungs while riding his bike around the neighborhood anymore.