I wasn’t in the mood, a few weeks ago, to show a movie on the side of our house. I’ve done so a few times in the past, born from a crazy notion that bored into my brain while mowing our lawn. The last time we did the “drive-in” movie was moments before I found out about my cancer. We were also shut down by the authorities, the buzzing mosquitoes which dive-bombed our ears and any exposed skin they could find.

But my daughters kept pushing me to “do the house movie thing,” so I agreed and told them to invite their friends. One thing I’ve cemented in my mind over this long and slow recovery is to do stuff that makes my family happy. I’m not talking about being a friend instead of a father, although I think that debate has the wrong parameters. I need to facilitate and be a strong advocate for my daughter’s growth. That sounds much better than being a pushover.

There are books and blogs about how a father should behave. I’m certain if I looked, there’d be advice on every side of every issue, whether the dad was coming off a layoff, a disease or both. But I have to go with my gut. Even if sometimes my gut is radically wrong and forcibly clouding my judgement while it digests the steroids and nine other daily drugs I’m on.

I make mistakes all the time, like when our daughter’s friends were over and wanted to be treated like family, so I made them help clean the house. It’s funny in retrospect, but I was a jerk about it at the time.

I also get it right sometimes, like showing Tangled on a vinyl-sided screen with popcorn and lots of friends.

They know I’m trying. I know they’re trying. Sometimes all the trying is trying.

It’ll only be a few more ticks of the teen clock until the daughters have moved on to college, careers and kids of their own. I need to remind myself to turn away from the computer and listen to the conversation. And most importantly, when a crazy, unusual request is tossed my way, I need to do my best and catch it.

That’s free advice. Just like the movie, it’s on the house.

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