There’s something you should understand about my dad. He’s the type of guy that turns up to his daughters’ touch football game in speedos. It sounds bad, but in real life it was so much worse. You see, the Northern Beaches touch football competition rounds up everyone. Legitimately, it’s like walking through your recent searches on Facebook, but in real life.
So here I am. I’ve spent years straightening my hair until steam rolled off it, carefully selecting the perfect strands to just “fall from my ponytail onto my face”. Then, after blasting myself with impulse, I was ready to go.
I’m standing with my friends, when I hear dad’s voice calling “Hello!”. I turn, and my stomach literally drops. There he is, in a t-shirt and speedos. SPEEDOS! His skinny legs poking out for the world to see and judge.
To make it even more spectacularly stupid, the touch game was at 8.30 at night, and the field is far enough away from the beach for it to be socially unacceptable to stroll around in your speedos. Actually, it’s never acceptable to get around in speedos, especially not my dad. I almost cried.
The worst part was that Dad didn’t understand what he’d done wrong. That’s the sort of guy he is; he has no conceptual understanding of what would embarrass his daughter. But in his favour, he’s the kind of dad that never fails to turn up to watch a game of touch.
Dad taught me all the basics, and so much more.
I love books. I devour them, can finish the Harry Potter series in two days, then recite from chapter 12, page 49, book three. Dad taught me to read, inspiring the hunger to get lost in a good book.
He stayed up for hours, reading and rereading the Bangers and Mash series. When I was much much younger, dad would do "story time" each night. He made it a game, so it was "play time" too.
He'd let me and my brother and sister choose a word, then he would weave together some story, and we would pick each other's words. I loved it, begged for one more after each one had finished.
Now, he’s the one I ask for help when doing an English assignment. He taught me how to weave together the elements of a story, so that it could make you laugh and cry, utterly captivated.
Dad taught me to surf; throwing me onto a foamie. He’d pull my terrified, frozen stiff body over each wave ‘til we got out the back. Then, without so much as a blink, he would spin the board, pushing me onto the waves that were way too big, and yell if l made it, or claim total innocence if all those times I nearly drowned.
Listen: Andrew Daddo’s daughter Annouk weighs in on a kid-free Mother’s Day.
Being an OG Melbourne boy, he taught me how to kick an AFL ball properly. Actually, I never did master that one.
Dad was the first person to take me driving - thankfully, at my grandparents' farm. It's sorta outback, but not quite. Anyhow, there’s back roads - they’re really quiet and a good spot to learn to drive. Here I go, so excited! Until we got started. It may have been the most stressful day of my life, and possibly his. I managed somehow to constantly swerve onto the wrong side of the road, pull into ditches and mix up the brake and accelerator when another car was approaching. All to a chorus of dad’s colourful language.
Dad has taught me it all. How to make a fire. To cook a steak. Drive a car (almost). How to make a joke at an inappropriate time.
Dad taught me how to enjoy all the little things, like swims in the ocean, and KEG BBQs. How to be confident, and proud and strong. That nobody is perfect, and that’s OK.
He taught me how to love and be loved, and everything in between. Thanks, Dad.
What did your father teach you (when he wasn't surprising you in speedos)? Tell us below.
Listen to Andrew Daddo on the Mamamia podcast This Glorious Mess.
This content was created with thanks to our brand partner Barbie.
For 58 years, Barbie has been a conduit to imagination and self-discovery for young girls. After more than 150 inspirational careers, Barbie – along with her friends and family – continues to inspire and encourage the next generation of girls that anything is possible.