I have no idea what I’m doing, so I flex because I’m dad and everyone thinks that dad always knows what he is doing. My son laughs which is what was intended. I make my over forty chest muscles bounce and get more of a chuckle out of him.
Then he asks me again how we are going to fix the furnace before record low temperatures come. I do the only thing I can do: I flex some more. Damn, my forearms look great and do a wonderful job of deflecting those looks of expectation.
I wonder if my family has figured out my secret yet? Dad has absolutely no idea what he is doing. Ever. I’m winging it.
My wife pats my son on my head and looks up to me with eyes full of trust. They stab at me, tear right through my facade and into the inner part that is usually pretty confused. Those eyes are asking the same question that my son asked. How are you going to fix the furnace? I should probably flex at her, too.
Nowhere in my past have I ever taken any course or hands-on apprenticeship on HVAC repair. At the very least, my wife should know this. There is nothing that I have ever done to make any of them believe that I have that kind of skill set. I don’t even change my own oil. The furnace makes as much sense to me as the inner workings of astrophysics level math. Which, of course, my twelve-year-old daughter seems to believe I have a great working knowledge of because I helped her with fractions once.
“Don’t worry, Wyatt,” my daughter says. “Dad’s going to fix it.”
She says it with such confidence that it’s almost over the top. I get the feeling she would say the same thing if aliens landed tomorrow and started lasering her favorite YouTubers. I would probably flex at the aliens.
This is part of the role of Dad that makes it really difficult. Everyone expects that I will know what to do. That there is some secret dad knowledge passed down through the generations that covers everything from furnace repair to college level philosophy.
I’m sure I must have looked at my father the same way that my family looks at me. With that confidence that Dad’s got this. When in truth, the only thing I got is a rising anxiety level because I have no idea why the furnace is broke, what it’s going to cost to fix it, and what a furnace even really looks like.
“Go get my computer,” I tell my daughter. The really only thing I’ve learned about being a father over the last twelve years is that eventually, everything is going to fall at your feet for you to deal with. Whether you want it to or not, that problem is going to come roosting right on top of your ten-year-old sneakers. I know why, but it doesn’t make me magically know what to do. But I do know that I need to do something.
I also know that Youtube is a fantastic resource. I type into the search engine “What happens when my furnace goes bang, bang, crash, crunch.” I am a wit of descriptive writing.
“Don’t worry guys, Dad’s got this.”
No, I don’t. It’s a bit shocking how much I lie to my family. I can’t tell the truth here, but I’m not exactly sure why.
Their guess is as good as mine when it comes to stuff like this. But I can’t tell them that my stomach has dropped on the floor because in two days it’s going to be negative five outside and we are going to have to heat the house like hobos in a boxcar. Like all fathers, fear and anxiety are pretty big motivators for me.
In ten minutes I get an idea of what bang, bang, crash, crunch means. There is no air coming through the vents so that must mean the blower has gone out. I don’t know what a blower is exactly, but I’m assuming that it blows. I proudly tell my family.
“It’s just the blower everyone. Easy peasy,” I say. The false confidence of a false prophet. They all leave the couch and go about their day, which is fine by me. That means fewer eyes on me while I have my next freakout.
It’s not something that I can repair myself, so I call a company that promises to send someone out promptly. Then I go through what is really wrecking me. How much is this going to cost, and where is the money going to come from?
We are a single income family, and things like this have a tendency to punch me in the gut. The cost can range anywhere from a couple hundred bucks to you need a new furnace completely and now I’m going to punch you in the balls because that sounds like fun.
But it’s not like I have a choice. We need heat, there is no getting around it. It’s one of those basic necessities of life. Without heat, I won’t have a family looking up to me with expectant eyes.
I need those eyes. They really do make me a better person. It’s amazing how much confidence you can get from something like that. It’s basically a fake it until you make it type of situation.
I start doing math in my head (not the astrophysics type). I can move money from a savings account, cut back in the budget here and there, open a vein and hope gold pours out. That can probably work.
The repairman makes it out the next day and gets the heat working. I confidently ask him if it was the blower. He confirms it, and I flex but more for me than him although I’m sure he loved seeing the gun show. We are able to afford the repair, but it’s going to hurt for a little bit.
Maybe my wife and kids are right. Maybe what they see in me is more than what I see in myself. Is that what fatherhood does to you?
That overtime and constant disasters, do we really become competent parents? Or do we at least learn to fake that confidence and lend it out to those little people that haven’t learned the skill yet? Because that is what confidence is, a learned reaction to unforeseen events. Often, it is hidden behind an anxiety wall that is reinforced with rafters of the unknown. Maybe confidence is what happens when the eyes of your family look up at you and say “help me.”
“Honey,” my wife says.
“My car is making this kind of bang, bang, crash, crunch sound…”
“It’s probably the blower,” I say.
Whelp, time to get the computer back out. I’ve got some confidence I need to give out to expectant eyes.
Here are more ways to become a part of The Good Men Project community:
Request to join our private Facebook Group for Writers—it’s like our virtual newsroom where you connect with editors and other writers about issues and ideas.
Click here to become a Premium Member of The Good Men Project Community. Have access to these benefits:
- Get access to an exclusive “Members Only” Group on Facebook
- Join our Social Interest Groups—weekly calls about topics of interest in today’s world
- View the website with no ads
- Get free access to classes, workshops, and exclusive events
- Be invited to an exclusive weekly “Call with the Publisher” with other Premium Members
- Commenting badge.
Are you stuck on what to write? Sign up for our Writing Prompts emails, you’ll get ideas directly from our editors every Monday and Thursday. If you already have a final draft, then click below to send your post through our submission system.
If you are already working with an editor at GMP, please be sure to name that person. If you are not currently working with a GMP editor, one will be assigned to you.
Are you a first-time contributor to The Good Men Project? Submit here:
Have you contributed before and have a Submittable account? Use our Quick Submit link here:
Do you have previously published work that you would like to syndicate on The Good Men Project? Click here: