Being a father is one of my favorite things in life.
This is somewhat surprising to me because my father was not a very good role model and, to this day, he and I are not very close. In fact, when I was younger, kids used to come up to me and say, "My dad can beat up your dad." I'd say, "Oh yeah? What time?"
In all seriousness, my fractured relationship with him has forced me to spend a lot of time thinking about parenting and what kind of father I want to be to my own child. It's not easy. In many ways, parenting is the hardest job I've ever had. I like to compare it to shaving. No matter how well you shaved today, you have to get up and do it again tomorrow. That's really the key.
Today, I planned on writing one of my annual sappy Father's Day posts. However, I started thinking about how being a great dad involves having a good sense of humor. Because let's face it. When it's 5:00 am, you haven't slept in three weeks, your colicky baby is screaming, you're trying to change his diaper and then, all of sudden, he pees straight into your face? You have two choice. You can laugh. Or you can cry.
I'll go with laughter every time.
So, in honor of Father's Day, I quickly wrote up 20 of my favorite things about being a father. They're not the deep-seeded emotions that I feel about my relationship with my daughter. I know I'll remember those forever. These are just some of the smaller things that, on a daily basis, make me glad to be her dad.
20 of my favorite things about being a father:
- Spinning my daughter by her arms for five minutes and then watching her stumble around like my drunk uncle.
- Low expectations. To a child, everlasting love can be expressed simply by adding hot dogs to their mac-and-cheese or giving them an extra piece of bacon.
- Knowing your child so well that you recognize her back-seat vomit look. Nothing fills me with more self-congratulatory pride than driving 90 mph on the Long Island Expressway with one hand and sticking a bag under her mouth before a drop of vomit hits the leather seats. I'm a Gold Glove vomit catcher.
- Having a boy tell you that he really likes your daughter and realizing that you have a newfound respect for the Amish...and handguns.
- Looking for the television remote control for hours and then suddenly discovering it in the freezer. Good one, kid. I never would have looked there.
- Bringing your daughter to the office so she can meet everyone and then, five minutes later, finding her completely covered in toner ink and Post-It Notes.
- Logging on to Amazon and discovering that ALL of their recommendations for you are child-related: a Dora the Explorer Dehumidifier, a giant case of Huggies, a year-long subscription to Parent Magazine. Fifty recommendations and not a single peep about the new Updike book or Mos Def CD!
- Kids are a wonderfully blank canvas. While some people see this as an opportunity to impart serious knowledge, I prefer teaching my daughter how to stand on a chair during music class, hold a crayon up in the air, and yell out, "Play Free Bird!"
- In a related way, I also get a huge laugh when my elderly Korean parents ask her to sing a song and she breaks out into "Bang bang boogie say up jumped the boogie to the rhythm of the boogie, the beat!"
- Children are an excellent excuse for buying Nutella by the case.
- Watching an episode of The Dog Whisperer on television and picking up some good parenting tips. Cesar Milan is a mad genius, yo!
- Similarly, going to the bookstore and laughing at parenting guides written by childless PhDs.
- Remembering that the funnest things in life are unexpected surprises. Like biting into a donut and discovering it's filled with chocolate.
- Gathering a bunch of kids for an Easter egg hunt and then laughing at them because you never hid any eggs. Fun game that can also be played during Christmas or Passover.
- Skipping down the street and holding hands with your daughter while singing the "Tigger and Pooh" theme song and wearing funny hats. Running into model ex-girlfriend eating at trendy restaurant with a rich old guy. Realizing you won.
- Related revelation: Much easier to pick up single women with cute baby than with cute dog. Reason for recent success of my new company, Rent-a-Tot. Act now. Special summer lease rates still available.
- Eagerly awaiting the day when my daughter rolls her eyes at me and says, "Dad, you're embarrassing me!"
- Discovering that true love is when you voluntarily give your child the last piece of bacon in the entire house.
- Being completely mortified when your daughter spins around on the subway pole and starts licking it yet laughing because you took a photo and you can't wait to show it to her in 10 years when she's failing Algebra.
- Putting the child to bed and cooking dinner for yourself but realizing your gustatory options are limited to dinosaur chicken nuggets, grape jello and baby carrots. Again.
Feel free to add your own to the list. I'd love to hear them all.
Meantime, Happy father's day to all of you dads out there. Always remember that men who change diapers change the world!