Bill is an advertising copywriter living in Niagara Falls, New York with his wife, Jenn, and 2-year old daughter, Katie. He still finds it shocking that the universe has entrusted him with the fate of another living thing.
It makes me think…that I’m an awesome dad. A bold statement, I know. Please allow me to elaborate. It all goes back to my first Father’s Day, which came when my daughter, Katie, was a mere four days old. At that precarious stage I was still quite convinced that my ineptitude would spell doom for this amorphous creature that had aggressively invaded my house. But as I take stock three Dad’s Days later, I can only describe my parenting performance as a success of massive proportions. (Note: If you’ve read this column before, you know that I’m slightly prone to exaggerating for effect. But only slightly.)
I’ll offer several reasons for my unabashed pride, if I may. Let me be clear that I don’t expect credit for the basic stuff – like managing to avoid dropping her in hot tar and knowing the difference between Pam and WD-40 when spraying the frying pan. No, I’m talking about some serious Dad-tastic child care.
Here’s the first reason for my self-proclaimed awesomeness: Because I let Katie watch TV. Yeah, you heard me. Not only is it a fallacy that a little time in front of the electronic babysitter will cook her noodle, the truth of it is, she’s actually learning. For instance, she could count to 10 in Spanish at two years old, thanks to that little explora named Dora. Which is something I can’t even do (nueve always trips me up). She also sings along to classical music in perfect melody due to her time spent with the Little Einsteins. Whereas my definition of classical music is Led Zeppelin.
Another reason I’m awesome is that I know how to strike a balance in matters of discipline. That kid loves me and loves hanging out with me. But by God she hates to see me mad. It’s all about avoiding the extremes, really. See, I’m not one of those hard-ass dads who roars at her for every little thing. For instance, ever met this guy? “You put that napkin down!! Down!! Down!!!! I swear to you I will #&*@%#!!!!!!” On the other hand, I ain’t weak. When she misbehaves, she gets flat out parented. None of that garbage where the dad meekly repeats, “Katie…don’t” 14 times, failing to intercede while she decapitates a cat.
Here’s a giant dose of awesomeness for you. I make sure she gets to play with other kids -- a lot. Katie is a social animal as well as an only child. So I totally get that I need to work hard to keep her calendar full. Now, I’m not staking my awesome-ness claim on the basis of taking her on play dates. (Side note: I hate that term. It conjures images of toddlers drinking wine and shopping for condoms). Rather, this is about the supreme sacrifice I make to hang out with parents I would normally run screaming from in any other social setting.
This applies to the parental units of roughly 23% of her friends (if I emailed you this column, you’re in the other 67%). I try to lean heavy on get-togethers with the seedlings of my own friends. But nonetheless, I quite frequently find myself having a conversation about weed killer or my 401(k) with some shockingly dull insurance salesman (my universal categorization of anyone with a real job). This off-the-shelf dad is generally attired thusly: blue shirt tucked in, pants hiked up to his nipples and a Blackberry attached to his belt like he’s some sort of corporate Batman waiting to answer a distress signal with his bionic thumbs.
The small talk in these situations is nothing short of excruciating for me, and when I inevitably make an off-color remark that would have my immature friends rolling, I receive a look that tells me I’ll be in Batman’s prayers tonight. But when I glance over and see my favorite 40-inch human running around gleefully, I suck it up -- and with as much sincerity as I can muster I ask James Bland whether he prefers to put down his own weed killer or have his lawn sprayed.
What a lovely segue into the final, and primary, reason I’m an awesome dad: Because I’m fun. I don’t drop Katie off at pre-school – I FLY her in. We fly kamikaze style right into the other kids, who absolutely love it, but look at me like: “Uh, shouldn’t you be working on your Blackberry?” We chase, wrestle, hide, jump, run and tease each other. As she turns three, Katie already has a finely honed sarcastic wit. She knows that screwing around isn’t just tolerated, it’s freakin’ mandatory. Which means she will grow up looking for the fun moments in life. And that, friends, makes me unquestionably, unequivocally awesome.
So as I celebrate my fourth Father’s Day, I’ll be basking in the glow of my achievement. And on this special day that I have so richly earned, I ask but one small indulgence: no talk of weed killers.
This column is for all parents even if they have two X chromosomes!