- The Washington Times - Monday, June 12, 2017


Another Father’s Day is upon us, as is the push to buy the biggest and bestest power tools and grills we can afford.

Fathers should claim their responsibility to teach children life lessons.

Too often these days, the Father’s Day gift-givers overlook the obvious: those gifts that do not cost hundreds of dollars, do not take hours surfing the ‘net and do not even resemble mugs and cards that say “Best Dad Ever.”

How about the gifts that keep on giving?

Like riding a bicycle.

Tying shoelaces.

Learning how to swim.

Uncultured warriors have taken pops out of the lace-tying picture, replacing his instructional fingers with Velcro on L’il Jordans and James’ and Curry’s. That young people even sport such footwear to funerals, weddings and formal affairs speaks volumes about fatherless upbringing. I digress, however.

Watching a dad teach a child how to ride a bike with training wheels and the how-to’s to graduate to a two-wheeler is a beautiful thing.

The kid scrape his knees, and Dad teaches him the difference between a boo-boo and an injury. He then schools his son on what went wrong and how to correct his mistake(s). The cheers are in order because, alas, no bones were broken in the learning process, and dad can give himself a fist pump.

By the time the children are ‘tweens (and learn Steven Spielberg, not E.T., produced the extra-terrestrial’s magic), Dad will have taught them how to master the cobblestone streets of Pittsburgh as easily as the ragged dirt roads of America’s parks.

And swimming?

Well, swimming is all about trust and understanding, about trusting yourself and understanding that water can be as enticing and soothing as it is vicious and deadly.

And the warm months are certainly vicious, as hurricane season begins and people can’t resist hitting the beaches and swimming pools.

Hurricanes dads can’t much do about, whether the climate-changers say so or not.

Swimming is a different matter, and facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explain why:

1) From 2005 to 2014, there were an average of 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings (nonboating related) annually in the United States — or about 10 deaths per day.

2) In addition, 332 people died each year from drowning in boating-related incidents.

3) About 1 in 5 people who die by drowning are children 14 and younger.

4) For every child who dies by drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries, such as brain injury, paralysis and memory loss.

More and more, dads (and moms) are trusting public schools to teach their kids how to, well, fill in the blank — because schools also are teaching our sons what size condom they should wear. (Without Dad and Mom even asking themselves, “How does the school teacher know?”)

Really, guys?

You don’t have a few weekends to teach your son to respect bodies of water?

To trust his body to not fight the water?

How and when to come up for air?

How to float on his back?

Swimming pool etiquette? No running means no running.

Swimming is a lifelong lesson a son will never forget, and its basics taught by Dad won’t be unlearned.

He’ll even recall on occasion how you taught him to float while you held up his back and straightened his legs.

He trusted you, and he trusted himself.

No power tool can replace that.

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]

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