I love it when you do that, it’s so cute.
I’m not cute!
Karl and I had this argument many times in college during our dating years. To me, cute means it made me go mushy – completely unable to resist. Karl would accept any other words, but not cute. He did not give me a reasonable explanation other than “guys aren’t cute.” So I learned to avoid using that word, even though I never understood why.
Flash forward 22 years and my 12-year-old son is able to put into words that make sense why this evil label of “cute” is so demeaning to a man. Matthew explained that cute is usually something that is helpless, like a newborn kitten. It is so adorably cute because of how much care it needs (just saying that sometimes men do behave like they need a lot of care). His tween wisdom was given, full of passion and determination, more than his father, to never be called cute.
Dealing with two generations of Leukert men, I finally understand why the word is so offensive to masculinity. While it is still true that women don’t limit the word “cute” to the helpless and needs care definition that men do; I will refrain from using that word to describe in any way the men in my family. I respect them enough to appreciate their definition of the word and use it appropriately around them.
Today, I’m grateful to finally have the mystery solved. To finally know “why” the word is so offensive and to make sure my words always express to my husband that he is “the man” in our house!
My father was very logical and therefore practical. This combination didn’t preclude him from appreciating quality however. Logically, after all, if you bought a higher quality item at the outset and didn’t have to replace it several times over with cheaper imitation items, you were better off. He was usually right. The $60 dress he bought for me when I was a mere girl of 16 still hangs in my closet, because it was of high quality.
But when dad made up his mind to do something, practical and logical trumped any preconceived ideas. He displayed this many times, including the time he used my best set of towels. Mom and Dad were visiting us at our home in New Mexico. Dad determined that before they began their trip home to Oklahoma, he needed to wash the car. The next thing I knew, my father was using wash cloths from my best set of towels to wash the car.
When I expressed my disappointment over the matter, dad looked confused. He simply said something like he didn’t think it was my best set of towels. Dad was right. I was wrong. I wish he were still alive today so I could explain my silliness and thank him for delivering me from a life of constriction inside a self made box.
You see, I only had a few real “sets” of towels. Most of our towels in our early poor stages of marriage were old ones gathered from “the barn.” This was a family kept repository of things grandmothers had at one time owned. These rounded out my linen cabinets, but this one set, it was actually a real set, not hand me down old things. The problem was, that this set of towels had seen quite an amount of use and were looking older than many of the hand me down towels. Of course dad was right, it didn’t look like my best set of towels, because it wasn’t.
Don’t worry, we eventually got new towels and there are no longer any vestiges of the relics from the barn. But there are two hand towels from my best set of towels, that have now been set at a position of elevated rags. They remind me of how I got caught up on “a perfect set” of something and failed to realize it was worn and good for nothing more than washing a car. It was certainly not worth any damage I might have done to my relationship with my father.
Hopefully I’ve been freed from seeing “perfect sets” all the time and can be honest with myself and with others when something is old, worn and needs to be replaced. Hopefully I’ve learned to always see people as more important than things. Hopefully I’ve gotten at least a little bit of my father’s logical and practical wisdom. I’d take even the smallest amount and be grateful.
I was home schooling my oldest son and we were doing a science project with magnets. The only problem was, we didn’t have the right kind of magnets. A simple trip to the store was planned and I studied the magnets carefully before deciding which to purchase. This is something that I would gladly let my dad handle whenever he was visiting, but that wouldn’t be happening anymore. Cancer came. Now I had to stare at the magnets and remember how my dad always insisted on quality and the right tool for the job. I chose the magnets based on what I believed my dad would have advised.
It has been nine years since my dad passed away, but I still miss him. I still miss what made him special and how he still fit into my life, even after I got married and started my own family. I came to the conclusion several years ago that a girl always needs her dad, no matter how old she gets. She always needs that father figure in her life.
Stop! Don’t lynch me yet. I know there are folks out there who had a rotten father, an absent father or didn’t even know who their father was. But I’m pretty sure that somewhere along your life’s journey, you developed a relationship with someone who became a father figure to you.
My husband is great and I love him dearly, but he’s not my dad. He was never supposed to be. So Karl continues to be my best friend, my lover, the father of my children and my partner in life, but not a father figure in my life. That’s his role to our children, not to me.
So what do I do? I stop, take a look around and thank the gentlemen in my church and my community who have been father figures to me since my dad’s death. To every man out there who took the time to be there for someone who wasn’t your own child – thanks. You’re a lot like my dad.