My Son is a Con Artist

My Son is a Con Artist

I used to question my son’s commitment to good manners, and my own ability to teach them. I figured some of it is my kid’s fault – something I’m not shy about admitting – and some of it is mine and Mom and Buried’s (but mostly mine, of course).

It’s easy to agonize over how well you’re instilling this stuff, until you realize what toddlers already know:

Manners are bullshit.

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Dadding Practice

Dadding Practice

Before he was even a twinkle in my eye, I had some ideas about what I wanted to teach my hypothetical son. Most of us do; without necessarily meaning to, we all take stock of what worked for us as kids, what we vow never to do as parents, what values we consider most important, etc. When you finally have children of your own, it’s a bit of a thrill to realize just how important you are to them, and how much influence you have over their development.

But my son is only two; it’s a bit early to tell him to always wear a rubber and when to double down. He needs to be able to swing off a tee before I can toss any real heat his way. But that doesn’t stop me from occasionally buzzing one by his ear.

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The Art of the Underreaction

The Art of the Underreaction

Years ago, Mom and Buried and I learned a parenting lesson we’d never forget: keep calm and parent on!

A woman and her son were walking around Fenway Park, the little boy happily toting a Red Sox balloon. All of a sudden, the balloon popped. We steeled ourselves for a meltdown. But his quick-thinking mother defused the situation.

She responded immediately with a wide smile and a big laugh, brightly exclaiming, “Your balloon popped! Who cares, right?” In no time, her son was laughing along with her. She’d thwarted his natural inclination towards getting upset by treating the whole thing as no big deal. When he saw that Mommy didn’t care, suddenly neither did he.

Even without kids, I knew it was a brilliant move. Years later, with a two-year-old of my own, her underreaction seems just as brilliant, even more essential, and a lot harder than it looked.

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The Perfect is the Enemy of the Ish

The Perfect is the Enemy of the Ish

I can’t draw. I’ve never been able to. But, one day back in elementary school, I got lucky. I drew a horse, and it actually looked like a horse! It was glorious.

But the tail wasn’t quite right. So I erased that part and tried again. But that one small revision screwed up the horse’s hind legs. So I erased them and re-drew that part too. This time the entire back half of the horse was smudged so I was forced to continue with what soon became an entire overhaul of my once beautiful steed.

By the time I was done fixing its tail, my horse – to this day the only good drawing I recall producing in my ENTIRE life – was destroyed.

I wish I’d read Ish before I drew that horse.

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Teach Impediment

Teach Impediment

The reality of being a dad has a way of completely upending your pre-parent expectations.

A few months ago, I wrote about looking forward to the “Rose Is Rose” portion of toddlerhood, in which my son would babble adorably and I’d be forced to puzzle out what he was saying. Like a sophisticated, more intelligent version of The Da Vinci Code (with much less Jesus but a much better vocabulary).

Unfortunately, it’s not difficult to decipher my sons favorite words, most of which revolve around refusing to eat things, refusing to do things and refusing to stop doing things. It’s not really that adorable.

The funny pages lied to me.

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