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Nine Little Stories Which Leave You Better Than You Were Before

Some “dadvice” from one damn good dad.


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Jordan Gross

2 years ago | 4 min read

Hi how are you
My Bar Mitzvah was 49 years ago few days back
Want to hear me sing it

I got this text from my dad. No context, out of the blue, middle of the afternoon on a Thursday. To some, it may seem odd. But to me, it perfectly encapsulates my dad’s personality.

He begins by focusing on somebody other than himself. He then reveals something he’s proud of. He ends with humor. This text is my dad personified. A selfless, hard-working man who knows not to take himself too seriously.

For as long as I can remember, my dad has been writing personalized poems for special milestones. Aunt Evelyn’s 85th birthday; Cousin Marnie’s Wedding; Adam’s medical school acceptance. I feel it’s time the favor is returned.

Although it may not be poetry, here are a few stories that epitomize dadvice— a combination of love, humility, and a desire to leave each person a little bit better than they were before.

1. When my brother was about 5, he decided to smear cream cheese all over his face. After taking some hilarious baby Santa Claus type photos, my parents told him it was time to wipe off the cream cheese. Adam refused. They begged and pleaded, but Adam wouldn’t budge. Just when it seemed like his cream cheese beard was to become permanent, my dad hatched an idea.

“Ok, Adam, you can leave the cream cheese. But don’t be surprised if you get cream cheese-itis.”

Adam’s white cheeks instantly transformed to a rosy red.

“What’s cream cheese-itis?” he asked timidly.

My dad continued nonchalantly. “Oh, it’s just this condition little boys get when they put too much cream cheese on their face and don’t take it off. I’m sure you’ll be fine though.”

And just like that Adam wiped all the cream cheese off his face.

My dad is a storyteller. He’s a creator. He’s quick on his feet and persuasive without being preachy. He gives you the tools to make your own wise decisions.

2. My first soccer experience didn’t exactly go as planned. As soon as the whistle blew, I ran to the sideline and hugged my dad’s leg as tightly as I could. Everyone urged me to get back on the field, but I refused. This happened game after game.

Fortunately, my dad had an idea. He had me play goalie, and he stood behind the field, right next to the net, so I was with him the entire time. He stayed with me every game, right behind the net.

Years later, my soccer team won a state championship. I was the goalie. My dad cheered me on from right behind the net.

3. My dad was my baseball coach. I played pitcher one game, and I was on fire. But, for some reason, with only a few outs left, I saw him walking toward the mound. Furious, I dropped my head and waited for him to tell me he was taking me out. But instead of taking me out, he tilted my hat upward, told me I was doing an amazing job, and then asked me what I wanted for dinner. It was his way of reminding me not to take myself too seriously.

4. One of my closest friends was unsure what to do with his life. He went to my dad for some advice.

“It doesn’t matter what exactly you do, so long as it makes you happy. You want to do business, do business. You want to be a gravedigger, dig graves. Do what makes you happy, and forget how it looks to the rest of society.”

This kind of non-judgmental attitude has always stuck with me.

5. My brother was scared he didn’t do well on a med school exam. More specifically, he was afraid he didn’t do the best in his class on the exam. To this my dad replied,

“Whether you finish first or last, you’ll still be called doctor.”

Sometimes it’s best to look at the big picture and take the pressure off yourself. Someone will always be better than you at something. Once you accept that, you can focus more on how you perform, not how they do.

6. My dad is a collection attorney for some universities in New York. I’ve had the opportunity to see him work and interact with student debtors. Not once have I heard him tell them they had to pay. Not once has he threatened legal action.

More than once, he’s told them to give what they could and focus on staying safe and healthy. More than once, he’s said, “don’t worry about it, I trust you’ll get it to me.”

Some things — most things actually — are bigger than business and money.

7. My parents once told me a story about their first date. They were at a carnival, and my mom mentioned something about a goldfish. Moments later, my dad was playing a game where the prize was a goldfish. He kept trying until he won it for her.

8. My friends and I were playing video games at a sleepover late into the night. There were four of us but only three controllers. I was too focused on the game to even hear him leave and come back, but to our surprise, he tiptoed behind us and dropped a controller on my friend’s lap. He’d do anything to make everyone feel included.

9. My dad got COVID in January 2021. Thankfully, he recovered quickly. But five months later he still can’t smell or taste. We were out for dinner one night and the server came over to the table to check in. “How is everything tasting?” he asked.

“Like nothing!” My dad answered. “But the texture is unbelievable!”

My dad always brings a lightness to every situation. He accepts his reality and does the best he can with the cards he’s dealt.

My dad is a man of few words. But the words he shares are powerful. So for the sake of brevity, I’ll stop at these nine little stories from one damn good dad.

Happy birthday. I can’t wait to hear you sing.

Shake. Fist bump.

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Jordan Gross

Sharing personal development through creative storytelling


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