Dusty is a good friend of mine. To say he is just a regular guy like you and I would be a real disservice to the man I know. He has spent time in the marines, has been married for 15 years, has two wonderful children, and is a passionate educator. Dusty is the kind of guy you can always count on and he has been an inspiration to me since the first day I have met him. Never shy to offer a word of advice, always there to lend a hand, and an all around great guy, I feel lucky to know him. Once he even taught me how to properly fall off the side of a cliff, but that is a story for another day. There are some people that just really motivate you to be a better person, and have an infectious personality that makes you feel good when you are around them. That’s Dusty. Three cheers for another Rad Dad.
1. Tell us about what you do, who you are, and how you balance your career with being a dad?
I am Dusty Strickland. I’ve been married to my beautiful wife for 15 years and I have two amazing kids Briar (11) and Luchen (10). To be honest sometimes I feel like I lead two lives. One is Mr. Strickland the educator the other is Dusty the guy I am at home.
As Mr. Strickland I’m an educator. I started off in the classroom, worked in both elementary and high school, and now I’m an instructional coach. I work with the teachers in my school, go over their lesson plans, identify areas of strengths and weaknesses, co-teach or model lessons, work with struggling teachers, develop and deliver professional development, and most importantly act as a resource for my teachers. If they need something, I do whatever I can to try and get it for them.
As Dusty I’m the guy that goofed off to much in college, spent four years in the Marine Corps, straightened up some, and became a dad. Now I try to simply enjoy my life, I work with my church, fly fish, brew beer, camp, laugh with friends, and have adventures with my family.
I learned in the Marines the only way I could save my marriage was to compartmentalize my life. There was Cpl. Strickland the Marine and then Dusty the man Summer married. I did my best to not bring my work home, to leave my anger/frustration/bitterness at the door, and to live my off duty life as one that would make my wife happy. It worked and I’ve carried the same philosophy into my teaching career. Of course there are times when work comes crashing into my real life but I stand vigilant guard to make sure those times are few and far between. There is no reason to expose my family to the stress and frustrations that I’m often under so I simply leave them in the car on the drive home.
2. What does being a modern-day dad mean to you?
It means recognizing that this world is different than the one I grew up in. My children are going to see advances in technology that will boggle my mind, racial issues will either die or gasp its final breaths, terrorism and keeping a constant vigilance will be a way of life for them, and they will see things I can’t even imagine. It means I do the all I can to prepare them to see the best and worse things in life. How to face sadness, dark days, deal with the unfairness that life throws at you, how to dance with joy, how to celebrate life accomplishments, and how to laugh in the rain.
3.How did becoming a father change your life?
It changed me in every way possible. I went from being self-centric to them -centric . I’ve joked with my wife about our friends who don’t have kids as being single married. The days of leaving for the weekend with the boys, date nights, and spontaneous getaways are now scheduled events that work around the kids….but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I never realized the joy I would have in seeing the sense of adventure dance across my kids face as they crawl across a log that’s 2 feet over a stream or how much an adventure it is to take a bike ride to Sonic for ice cream.
4. Whats the greatest part about being a dad?
Learning who my kids are. It still amazes me how very different each of my kids are. I love learning how they think, seeing them face the world, hearing their laughs, and joining them on adventures. The greatest part of being a Dad is being dad. It encompasses every aspect of my life and I love it.
5. Can you share a funny story about being a father?
Luchen was about to enter 4th grade I thought it was time to have “the talk”. So I let him pick whatever restaurant he wanted (Red Robin, excellent choice so I know I’ve done something right) and told him we were having a daddy date. On the drive to the restaurant I decided to just jump into the conversation;
“So Luchen, What do you know about sex?”
“Hey Dad, what does that billboard say?”
“Huh…Oh, it’s a billboard for an insurance company. Did you hear what I asked?”
“Hey did you see that semi?”
“Do you see how I’m trying to change the topic? It’s because I don’t want to talk about this.”
Needless to say I laughed but we still had our talk. Then a few months later he and I were driving somewhere and I thought I would ask him;
“Hey, do you have any questions about sex?”
“WHOA!?!?! WHAT!?!? That just came out of nowhere!!!”
“Ha, Yea I know. But do you have questions.”
“Ok but you know you can ask me any time.”
“Yea, I know that.”
6. What advice can you give any new father out there?
It’s cliché but they grow up fast. Treasure the time. Before you know if they will no longer want to cuddle or think you’re cool. And being their dad is more important than being their friend, it’s cool when you can do both but being a dad always trumps being a friend. You are going to have make the tough calls, make them do something because they need to (even if they don’t want to), and live out love in times of discipline and compassion.
Thanks so much Dusty. Keep up the great work, and come visit us soon, I know an ice cream place around here that puts sonic to shame! Haha!!!