Today is Father’s Day. I’ve never claimed to be the World’s Best Dad, but I have learned a few things over the past 22 years, many of them, oddly enough, from watching the lovely yet formidable Marcia, who is great dad and mom all rolled into one:
- Being silly and playing with your kids is one of the best things you can do as a dad. Fortunately, this has never been hard for me since, near as I can tell, I’ve never grown up.
- Hug them early and often – every day – or they’ll never let you hug them later on when you really want to or when they really need it.
- It’s OK to play the gruff, protective dad with your teenage daughter when it comes to boys. She’ll probably like it in a weird sort of way – like someone is watching out for her. I’ve teased Annie for years that no boy will ever be good enough for her. Somehow I think that’s encouraged her to be choosy. Which is good.
- Hold the door for women and your boys will grow up to hold doors for women and come to view women as special, which they are. Besides, it’s just nice. We need all the manners and courtesy we can get in this day and age.
- Letting your kids catch you in mistakes and laughing along with them as they laugh at you is important. I don’t know why, it just is.
- Don’t use baby talk with babies and infants. Talk to them like people from day one and they’ll grow up with amazing language skills. Kids who can express themselves, I think, have fewer problems.
- If you’re sarcastic, your kids will be sarcastic. This is a good thing in my mind. I like sarcastic people.
- Girls should learn to jack a car and fix stuff and boys should learn to cook and clean. Getting the former to go along with this plan is much easier than getting the latter to do it. (Right, boys?)
- The more you read to your kids early on – and the more they see you read – the smarter they’ll be. This might the truest thing I’ve ever said. Have stacks of books everywhere.
- If you want to get information out of your teenage son about his life and feelings, do it while shooting baskets with him. I don’t know why that works, but it seems to.
- Most problems kids have can be solved by going for ice cream. (It works with adults, too.)
- Annoy your kids by telling them how much you love you them. It’s not fatal. No kid ever died from being told they matter.
- Tell them this: “No one is good at anything the first time they do something. And no one was born to do anything. People get good at stuff they care about by working hard at it. Beethoven wasn’t born knowing how to compose.” Because it’s true.
- Cherish every second. Yeah, yeah, everyone says that. But it’s true. Two of my wonderful kids – Sam and Annie – are grown and off to college. The last wonderful kid – Henry – is halfway through high school.
When they’re all gone for good I don’t know what I’ll do with myself.
(Note: Yes, dadgum it, that’s a Christmas photo. Do you know how hard it is to herd the cats into one spot at the same time, especially when two of them – I’ll give you one guess which two – act like having their photo taken sucks away part of the souls? I took what I could get, OK? Sorry it’s a bit blurry, though.)