“Things Dad Taught Me” by Chris Zito

We sometimes take for granted that fathers love their kids and will teach them important stuff. Not always true, but my Dad taught me all kinds of important stuff. For instance…


When I was a kid and was upset because something seemed unfair and I complained by saying “if only” this or “if I only had” that, my dad would always say, “Oh yeah? Well, if I had a square ass and shit bricks I could build houses, but I don’t so I can’t. ”
It would stop me in my tracks and make me think. And make me smile wondering where he would go to do such a thing.

A seat for a square ass in the proverbial brick shit house.


There’s something about siring children that makes a man want to repeat a joke over and over.
For years.
And years.
One of Dad’s favorites was the one he used every night after dinner.
“I don’t know what it is about your mother’s cooking,” he’d smile, “but every time I eat I lose my appetite.” I laughed at this joke exactly once at around 6 years old when I finally got it. He told the joke until…well, he was still using  a variation of it the last time I saw him.  Click to hear actual response to appetite joke.

I annoyed my grown kids for years in the car with my famous “crane joke.” Anytime I noticed a crane while driving I would drop the name Bob into the conversation.
“You know Bob is coming over this weekend.”
“Bob who?” one of them would ask.
“Bob CRANE! Star of Hogan’s Heroes!” Oh man, that one still cracks me up.

Click to hear my perceived response to the Bob Crane joke.


My Dad was absolutely devoted to my mom. I wasn’t at their wedding of course, but I can say this with confidence: whatever he said that day he sure must have meant it. Hassling Mom or not doing what she asked us to do was a major offense. Dad worked long hours and mom stayed home with the five of us. Four of us were boys. Those times when she got overwhelmed she reached out to the entire holy family.
“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, give me strength!!!” I remember wondering why Dad thought she needed so much help from us when she had that kind of support in her corner.

Don’t make me call Moses too!

All five of us had to help out around the house. I learned how to clean a bathroom and ride a two-wheeler around the same age.
We had a rotating chart for kitchen duty after supper every night. Learning all this made me a good roommate in college and a husband that doesn’t get bitched at about the mess in the sink after he shaves.

Thanks for the lessons, Dad. I’ll make sure Vince helps his mother.

Thanks for reading. Tell your pals.
Chris Zito


One Response

  1. Thanks for the memory of your Mom. I could actually hear her voice as I read the words. A wonderful woman, and she and you Dad were an unbeatable team. – Gary

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