Editorial Notebook

Why I love dad side quests

Many of you have probably experienced the ‘dad side quest.’ It typically involves a parent (often a dad, but not always) asking you to “give me a hand for a minute” while you’re doing something else. What first seems like a five-minute break from your current activity to help your dad turns into a multi-hour struggle to complete said task.

This can be frustrating in the moment, especially if all you do is hold the flashlight for three hours. I remember often thinking to myself, “I could be doing so many other things, but I’m stuck here instead.” However, over time, my dad involved me more in these projects, and I grew to appreciate spending time with him working together. Rather than just holding a flashlight or ladder, he had me wrenching, drilling, or climbing. I felt like I was needed and contributing real effort to the projects, and he would often ask for my opinion on what we should do.

In each side quest, my dad would drop some knowledge on how various household appliances or systems worked. How to use this tool or that tool. How to be a problem solver. How to do it yourself. These bits of wisdom apply to most all aspects of life and have been extremely useful in college. I’ve used my experience from helping my dad in understanding problems in my engineering courses, helping my friends with dorm or apartment fixes, and in pushing myself to try new things.

Besides the practical experience I gained through working on projects with my dad, I’m also proud of the work we’ve accomplished together. We’ve built hanging shelves to clean out and organize our garage, overhauled the entire suspension set-up on one of my dad’s cars, rebuilt a fence, and many other ventures. Finishing these often labor intensive tasks with my dad and being able to appreciate the time and effort that went into making the end result look so good is immensely satisfying. These are bonding moments which I’ll never forget.

I think that most people who have been lucky enough to have their parents ask them to help work on a project have gained (knowingly or unknowingly) some similar wisdom to what I have. Even though it may have been annoying or frustrating at the time, I began to appreciate these side quests, and I hope more people can see them that way too.