Monday, September 29, 2008

Dad Stuff - Lesson #42 – " 5 Things I've Never Done With My Kids"

This could have been an exhaustive list of all things I avoided and neglected to do with my kids for their own good. That stuff tends to get a bit preachy, and I have no interest in that. I'd rather make fun of people.

I never forced them to listen to inferior music. For the life of me, I cannot understand the allure of "Kids Bop" and similar musical collections. What could be more irritating than children singing whitewashed lyrics of Beyonce and Green Day? Surely parents aren't buying this musical trainwreck for their own enjoyment. I'd rather be stuck in It's A Small World for eternity.

If you want your kids to listen to pop music, let them have the real thing! I sung my kids Beatles songs when they were babies. They had no nursery rhymes per se, but they did learn old school rhymes from hanging out with me in the car. Isn't the point of having the music on to enjoy to have a little fun and connect with the parents while they are little?

I never took them out until they were four years old. Okay, they left the house. It's not like they were locked in a dungeon or a monkey cage. We went to the park, we went to grandma's and family functions. But I never once dragged a baby carrier and a diaper bag to a movie theater, a restaurant, a sporting event or any other place where the piercing eyes of judgmental childless people or grumpy old farts could bitch and whine if my child made some noise. I didn't want to be that guy, so I didn't take them. I also avoiding shush-ing my way through their beginning years. I waited until my son was about four until we went to our first movie. No fuss, no freakouts. Just three potty breaks and he fell asleep on my lap thirty minutes before the movie ended.

I never got down on their level, rubbed their heads and called them "slugger". This may be a valid move to communicate with a child who has issues. I never needed it and I found it condescending. I mean, I am the father, right? I'm supposed to be strong and the big bear in the cave and all that crap. The one thing I have going for me before they grow up and find out I'm a big phony nerd who doesn't know anything about fixing the roof and the septic tank is that I am tall. I am tall and my voice is lower than theirs and I tell them what to do. No way I'm giving that up when they're five.

I avoided saying "I don't know". My kids want to know stuff. They ask me questions about everything everyday. Sometimes I think they are just testing me, as if I could lose my position, but usually they aren't afraid to ask. That is the key to having a good kid that could become a wise adult. Your child should not but shot down every time he needs to know who FDR was or what Vietnam was all about. Maybe you know, maybe you don't. When they ask, get off your ass and help them find out. That is an incredibly underrated gift. Plus, once they learn how to use a reference book or a computer and motivate themselves to find the answers, they'll leave you the hell alone.

I never let the world revolve around them. Perhaps this would be my most controversial statement, if I cared about controversy. I don't have monuments to my child's minor achievements stacked high in every room of the house. I didn't take a picture of them every eight minutes from birth to 14. We don't throw a party every time they get an "A". I don't have four jobs so they can go to a private academy, or make an attempt to be a professional ballet dancer. It sounds callus, but that's how we rolled. In return, we have appreciative, unspoiled, intelligent children with straight A's. And those kids have parents who love them, have their own lives, hopes and dreams that don't hang on the success of their children.

We also don't believe in bumper stickers.

1 comment:

  1. I'm in nominal agreement here. I'd add, though, that I also have tried not to dominate the tastes and interests of my kids. I have failed there, to some extent, but I don't think I've ever actively FORCED anything on them.