1. He’s the one you can always call in an emergency.
When you get arrested for drunk driving at 3 in the morning, he not only shows up at the police station with your bail while wearing a bathrobe, he also takes you to an all-night diner to get you some coffee and an omelet.
2. He always makes sure your basic needs are met.
He was the one who fed and diapered you in between working two full-time shifts when you were an infant, and he’s the one who’ll slip you $20 and instruct you not to tell mom when you run out of food between paychecks.
3. He knows how to help you without spoiling you.
Since he’s already been a kid and knows all the tricks that kids play, he can tell the difference between laziness and genuine need. He’ll take care of you, but never to the point where you don’t learn to take care of yourself.
4. He can always tell when something’s wrong.
He’s seen all your ups and downs. He rocked you to sleep in your crib when you were crying, and even though you tried keeping a poker face, he could sense the minute you walked in the room that you’re having problems with your boyfriend.
5. He’s cool under pressure.
Under insane, uncertain and chaotic circumstances, he’s had to patiently tread water to keep his family afloat. From one crisis to the next, he had to bite down on his lip and keep strong. And you’d really have no idea how hard it is for him, because he never shows it.
6. He makes your entire family feel protected.
Whether it was the time a thunderstorm struck during a picnic, or when the house lights went out all night, or when some stalker creep wouldn’t leave you alone, you’ve never felt more safe than when Dad was around.
7. He treats your mother like a queen.
He obviously loves and respects your Mom, and this translates into his kids having positive attitudes toward women.
8. He is not freaked out by “the kids today.”
He doesn’t try to adopt your slang, the way you think, or your clothing style, but he also doesn’t insist that you act, talk, and look like kids did when he was a kid. In other words, he’s basically a cool guy who isn’t threatened by change.
9. He is able to listen not only to your words, but to your feelings.
He’s known you long enough to hear the subtext beneath what you say. If you naturally have trouble expressing your feelings, he knows how to get to the heart of the matter because he’s intimately familiar with your heart.
10. He eagerly does the dirty work.
Whether it was cleaning up your baby vomit, changing the car oil, or plunging a disgustingly clogged toilet, Dad bravely wages battle with toxins and microbes that he’d never let near his wife and children.
11. He can fix anything.
Flat tire on a country road in the middle of the night? Dad’s there and has it fixed within a half hour. Drafty apartment? Every hole is sealed before dinner. Toothache? He slips you some clove oil and a Vicodin—and again tells you not to tell Mom.
12. He’s strong but not harsh.
He realizes—just as well as you do, if not better—when you’ve been sloppy or lazy or irresponsible. But because he gently expresses his disappointment rather than yelling at you, it makes you never want to disappoint him again. He can tell you what you’ve done wrong without making you hate yourself. If only your boyfriends knew how to do that!
13. He knows what makes you happy.
That’s why, no matter where you live, you get delivered a gift box of chocolate-covered marshmallows (and a $50 bill) every year on your birthday. That’s why whenever you visit for Christmas, there’s already some pumpkin spice eggnog in the fridge.
14. He encourages you to let your imagination run wild.
He knows that one of the most important things about being a kid is the ability to dream. He never laughs at your dreams; he only tries to help you make them reality.
15. He sees the best in you.
Especially when you can’t see it in yourself. He can make you feel better about yourself than you can.
16. He makes huge sacrifices to ensure you have a better life.
Throughout his entire adult life he’s sacrificed leisure time, vacations, expensive dinners, and fancy clothes to make sure you have a better life than he did. Such trifles would never make him as happy as it does seeing you happy.
17. His hugs can cure the common cold.
From way back when you skinned your knee up until the present when someone skins your heart alive, nothing feels better than Dad’s big strong warm clumsy bear hug.
18. He makes the best pancakes this world has ever known.
No matter where you are on Earth, you can’t wake up on a Saturday morning without salivating at the idea that dad is downstairs in his PJs making his famous peanut-butter-and-banana pancakes for his whole brood.
19. He can be the silliest man who ever lived.
He has 1,000 pet names for you, has written (and will sing) 100 jingles about you, he knows what jokes make you laugh, and whenever you’re feeling especially sad, he does that one face that makes it impossible for you not to smile.