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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When you first become a dad, there’s a tendency to go a bit overboard with the life lessons (or without always knowing you are) because of your own enthusiasm and inexperience. But remember: you’re learning too.

So despite my son’s young age and the fact that he probably won’t retain much of these early lessons from his father, I’ve been hurling knuckleballs of insight at him for years, honing my skills, working my way up from the minor leagues (think Homer Simpson) to the Big Show (Atticus Finch).

Here’s a list of some of the stuff we’ve covered so far:

  • Always tell the truth.
  • Everyone falls down. It’s getting up that’s important.
  • If you don’t take another bite of your chicken you’re going straight to bed!
  • There’s no shame in asking for help.
  • Never say any of the words Daddy yells in the car.
  • You can’t always get what you want.
  • American girls want everything in the world you can possibly imagine.
  • Beauty is pain (my wife taught him that one).
  • Always root against the Yankees and the Jets.
  • You can do anything you set your mind to. Unless she’s under 18.
  • Screaming is not a solution.
  • Women be SHOPPIN’!
  • Sharing is caring.
  • When a guy lays down a dare, you gotta take it!
  • Never touch another man’s fries.
  • Fear does not exist in this dojo.
  • When someone asks you if you’re a God, you say “yes!”

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Some solid advice in there. It’s a shame my son won’t grasp most of it for at least a few years. Sure, those last few are actually lines from movies, and there’s a Stones lyric or two as well. But you can’t argue with most of that stuff, regardless of the source.

(Except the dare one, from Cocktail. That’s just idiotic. No wonder Tom Cruise is a Scientologist; apparently he’ll believe anything.)

When you’re raising a toddler you tend to talk into the wind a lot. The important thing is to continue swinging away even if you just keep fouling it off.

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