The Dad Wave

To get an idea of how I feel about fathers, it helps to know what I drive. There’s a story in this, but it doesn’t start where you might think…

WRXA Subaru WRX – a very powerful, very fast station wagon – lives on my side of the garage. We bought it several years before I became a dad, but – being reasonably practical and very safe – it survived our couple-to-family transition.

It’s easy to pick out a WRX on the road. Just look for a gaping hole in the hood: the air scoop that’s been a defining feature of all four generations of the car. That quick recognition, combined with relative uniqueness, means WRX drivers usually exchange waves when they pass in opposite directions. I see drivers of motorcycles, Corvettes, UPS trucks and school buses sharing the same thing: a quick wave to acknowledge that small thing they have in common.

Which brings me to fatherhood: There needs to be a version of this wave for Dads.


This past week, as I sat working at my favorite coffee shop, a guy about my age came in with his daughter. She was probably about a year old. He took a seat at the counter, she perched happily on his lap. As daughter chomped on cut carrots and strawberries, dad sipped his coffee and chatted with the barista about parenthood. Periodically, he kissed the top of his daughter’s head, talked to her, encouraged her as she ate and wobbily hoisted her sippy-cup. He wore his role with equal parts pride and confidence, and took his job seriously.

david_and_christopherI searched for a way to say to this stranger, with just a gesture, “Nice job, fellow dad. Rock on.”

I realized I wanted the fatherhood equivalent of the WRX wave. An unspoken way to convey my recognition of our thread of commonality. A nod to say “I get it” – I know what you’re feeling when you look down at her and smile, when you kiss her as she eats, when you share your excitement over first steps and full nights of sleep.

The car wave wraps up mutual enjoyment and enthusiasm into an easy, recognizable form. The “Dad wave” could be the outward recognition of what’s easy to see of yourself in another: A salute to a job well-done, to the reverence of fatherhood, to gladly and proudly taking up the charge of being an involved and earnest Dad.

To my Dad, and to Dads everywhere, happy Fathers’ Day. In lieu of a secret sign, a dads-only wink or a hushed word of recognition exchanged in passing, consider this post your Dad-to-Dad fist-bump. Keep up the great, hard, rewarding work. Own that next diaper change, post-scraped-knee hug or skillful tantrum-dodge. Know that your fellow Dads see you practicing your craft, and that we’re proud to be members of the same noble guild.

Nice job, fellow dad. Rock on.

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