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It finally happened: I am dad and no longer me

July 19, 2010

It is finally official and it happened last week.

I am sure it happened way before last week, but I am really too dense to notice.

I am no longer me.

"Hey, aren't you Fairynne's dad?"


"Hey, aren't you Garrison's dad?"


I'm sure that's the answer my wife Kathleen says when she is asked, "Aren't you Mike's wife?"

Depends ... on what he did.

She doesn't always claim me right away and I sure can't blame her for that hesitation, regardless of the length.

My daughter was at volleyball camp last week at Cedarville University.

At the end of the week I went up to her coach, Cedarville player Lauren Gill, and introduced myself as Fairynne's dad as I thanked her for all her hard work and enthusiasm throughout the week.

She thanked me in a hoarse voice and continued to sign shirt after shirt of the campers.

I didn't say "Hi, I'm Mike Mathison, Fairynne's dad."

I was just Fairynne's dad.

And, that's really OK with me.

Same with Garrison, too, believe it or not.

I know it happened with my parents, also. But, since my parents died 25-plus years ago, I have no reference point which to compare.

I enjoy and revel in being Fairynne's and Garrison's dad.

I know my daughter turns a blind eye when her brother and I act like idiots walking through a mall, but that's the fun part of being a male.

And, since my son does not care about the stare or someone's thoughts, it is rather fun to be an idiot with my son and watch the complete horror on my daughter's face.

That's when I want to stop, turn around and project, "Yep, I'm Fairynne's dad" and watch my poor daughter cringe in some corner or duck into Claire's.

It's also fun to be Garrison's dad this summer as I teach him work ethic and how to mow lawns.

Thanks to Pastor Kevin Jarrett, my son has his first lawn job so he understands responsibility, work ethic and being held accountable for an act of making someone else's life just a little bit easier weekly.

Garrison has an opportunity I never had, making money at 13.

Where I grew up in El Cajon, Calif., there was really no such thing as mowing lawns to make a buck.

There wasn't a lot of room between houses and the front lawns were rather small, making it no more than a five-minute job.

We lived on the end of a cul-de-sac, so we had the biggest backyard and I mowed it all the time, with zero dollars to show for it.

I mowed my grandmother's yard, but my dad wouldn't let his mom pay me anything. So, grandma would send me to the store with a $5 and tell me to buy milk.

When I returned from my walk she would always say, "You can keep the change."

That was rather cool.

It took me a long time to figure out that is how grandma paid me.

When I grew up, my parents had two dishwashers in the house - my sister Kathleen and I.

My wife and I currently also have two dishwashers in the abode - Fairynne and Garrison - and they cannot wait until a mechanical dishwasher is installed next to the kitchen sink.

When I grew up 100 years ago I was never in the house during the summer.

I didn't play Little League baseball, but I ran track, rode bikes, played basketball, football, baseball in the street.

My dad was at work and I was outside playing somewhere, so I'm sure my mother appreciated the down time.

I now spend the summer annoying my daughter as much as I can because she is two years away from heading to college.

I spend time whipping up on my 5-foot-11, size-13-shoe son in one-on-one to show him the old man still has it on the basketball court - although in rather short spurts.

I then spend way too much time trying to walk with a bad back after I whoop his behind (oh, the pride).

I'm too stubborn to let him win (my uncle never let me beat him, I finally earned it) and I'm sure the next time I walk into Mainstream Physical Therapy and see owner John Kirlangitis, his first words (after a really good laugh) will be, "Mike, you're 50" and he'll just turn around and walk out of the room shaking his head, much like he does when he sees any one of his four children do something a little off the wall.

You see, my wife shakes her head in much the same way.

So, I see that a lot.

And, yes, the pain is worth whooping my son.

And, yes, I know where he gets his hard head.

And, yes, I know the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

And, yes, I know I choked on my Ernie Els pick - 69-79 = miss cut.

First day, three birdies, no bogeys. Second day, seven bogeys, no birdies.

He had 32 putts the first day and 36 the second day.

Wow, sounds like me.

That's golf.

You are 30-something and the kid is 17, or younger. And, if you do spout off, please do not get offended when the kid spouts back because it probably won't be something nice.

You stay quiet and the kids just play.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at

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