The best advice I ever got: Two hands!

Dads are good for a lot of things. They fix stuff, threaten high-school boyfriends and move you in and out of apartments (sorry about that fourth-floor walk-up, Dad).

They are also an endless supply of fodder for daughters who blog.

I recently went to my father for tax advice (another thing they’re good for). I wanted to know the threshold reporting income from odd/freelance jobs, assuming I had never received a 1099 and wanted to avoid jail time. In the course of providing a pretty unhelpful answer, he said the best advice his father ever gave him was “Never steal anything worth less than a million dollars.” Granted, that was in 1965, so I should adjust for inflation.

Anyway, it got me thinking about the best advice my dad ever gave me (that wasn’t it). And I’ve landed on this: “Two hands!” Usually, it’s “Two hands, Elizabeth!” (my parents are the only two people on the planet who call me Elizabeth), and usually I’m about to break something of significant value, but you get the idea.

That advice was built to last. It’s been shouted across a Little League field as a fly ball headed my way, and across a college quad on move-in day. I remember a very cold winter night spent chasing soda cans down our driveway taking out the trash after I ignored it. And though I can’t remember, I assume it was said in the hospital when, with some trepidation, my parents let me hold my little sister for the first time.

It’s mostly a warning about my tendency to do try to carry too many things, or to do things without a whole lot of logistical forethought. But really, I think it’s an acknowledgement that anything worth doing is worth doing well. And that’s pretty good advice.

And yes, Dad, I reported all my babysitting money to the IRS.

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