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Me and My “Cool” Dad

By Shayna Nerland | Inspiration

“Your dad’s so cool!”—a common phrase I heard throughout my childhood.

just dad
Clearly the coolest guy on the block.

As my elementary school principal, my dad was something of a “local celebrity” (a term he coined himself, of course). He would liven up school days by making appearances (much to our teachers’ surprise, I’m sure) to belt his rendition of Arlo Guthrie’s “Motorcycle Song” as we cheered him on, giggling uncontrollably. Or to spin one of his “Tall Tales.”


Whenever we managed to reach a certain amount for our annual fundraiser my dad would don a Zero The Hero mask and cape. He would then go on to pedal a mini crimson tricycle down the street with the top contributors, each of them armed with an ice cold bucket of water ready to pour on poor Zero’s head. As due payment for his shenanigans he never failed to distribute M&Ms to our ever-tolerant teachers every Friday.

For this, he was constantly gifted with M&M dispensers. Once my sisters and I were adults, he would even haul our suitcases to our car while also managing to smuggle one of these treasures into our trunks (only to later be found with a begrudging shake of the head and involuntary laugh).

xmas fam

After his time as elementary school principal, where he would fashion a different tie each day featuring cartoons from Pepe Le Pew to Winnie the Pooh, he transitioned to high school principal and reigned for a portion of both my sisters’ time. He became superintendent of our district before I experienced…that. “That” being a continuation of his livening up my school day.

For example, he began each day with a classic rock selection featuring such refined artists as REO Speedwagon followed by a joke (his favorites were big thinkers such as: ‘What did the salmon say when he hit the wall? Dam!’). Nowadays, the vast majority of his antics are enjoyed by us only, his family after a “17-hour day.” I continue to observe and appreciate the meaningful connection my dad brings to others, a reflection that strengthens our relationship. It made me realize to be a great dad is to be a great man.


I’m the undeservedly blessed to have a great man as my father. If you are too, tell him today.

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