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The Not-Bad Dad

Posted in Many Paths Many Voices

People pleaser.
You’re a teaser.
Daddy’s little girl.

I wanted to be your favorite son,
Playing catch and using tools.
It was just plain fun to
Spend some time alone with you.

“How’s that, Dad?”
“Not bad.”

Growing up, I loved it when
The lights went out at night.
Then you’d surely have to play a game
Or talk with me by candlelight.

(wouldn’t you?)

Paddling the canoe with you
Was my favorite thing to do
Shooting, archery, and sips of beer
Were also awesome, too.

“How’s that, Dad?”
“Not bad.”

I’d soak it up and bathe
In all of your attention
Until I learned mom made you do it,
Maybe never your intention.

(was it?)

When will I be good enough?
When will you be proud of me?
Would you choose me over your baseball team?
Or over your TV?

“Not bad,” says dad.
‘Not bad’ is not

I’ll cook a meal or take you out
To try something new.
Travel here and there
In the hope that you’ll approve.

“How’s that, Dad?”
“Not bad.”
‘Not bad’ is not ‘good’.
‘Not bad’ means ‘not good enough’.

Can you see me?
Do I count for anything?
Are you proud of me?

Am I good enough, yet?

It’s not easy
People pleasing
I’m tired and depressed.

What do
I have to do
for you to approve?

Now I’m forty-six
I’ve learned,
I don’t need you to.

Xanthe Strong
September 2019