My friend Jim posted this link to Facebook and tagged me in it. Like me, he’s the daddy of a “pig-tailed tornado”, as he describes his little girl. Unlike me, he’s been doing this since his daughter was born whereas I’m new to the game. These rules are some good common sense advice for any dad, but especially those of us whose lives are less GI Joe and more Barbie.
Now…anyone who knows me knows that I can’t leave well enough alone. I have to chime in on damn near everything. Call it a curse. Anyway, I noticed a few rules that could be expanded on, or they were just missing. Call them “Steve’s Rules for Dads”. Keep in mind I’m coming from the perspective of life with a ninja princess (yes, ninja. I haven’t taught her about the pirates vs. ninjas meme yet), but they can apply universally to ninja princesses and junior Captain Black Jack Sparrows. Substitute “him” for “her” where applicable. Oh, and realize that I’m a very protective daddy. I’m sure that I’ll get grief from Lexi when she’s a teenager. In the end, if she ends up with a young man who treats her like the princess she is, she’ll thank me for it.
1. Rough house. Pick that kid up and swing her around. Tickle her, toss her on the couch, throw a snowball at her, etc. Do it while they’re little and enjoy it…and your back can take it. Any parent can tell you, kids can be frustrating at times. This can be a useful way to get them to knock off whatever they’re doing that’s driving you nuts. They will giggle and suddenly you’ll forget why the hell you were frustrated with them in the first place. For the record, I emphasize this is not beating your kid up. No swats on the butt, no brain-dusters, no grabbing them up by their arm, none of it. That is a no-go. You’re playing with them and making both of you laugh, not taking your frustrations out on them. In accordance with being a protective daddy, rough housing is a good start to Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and you’re gonna want her to know how to throw a triangle choke on some teenage boy later in life.
2. Cartoon time. One of my fondest memories of growing up was Saturday morning cartoons with my dad. Specifically Looney Tunes. For my mom, it was Nicktoons on Sunday mornings. With Lexi, I got to introduce her to one of my favorites, Animaniacs. Why did I introduce her to Animaniacs? Because I’m finding that I think the current cartoons/children’s shows suck. I have found that I hate Spongebob, I would like to see Dora deported so she can explore Mexico, and Yo-Gabba-Gabba is just plain WEIRD. Hey, if you’re gonna spend some couch time with the kiddo, might as well be something that you can enjoy as well.
3. Survival basics. Every dad should teach his child to fish, camp, and shoot. At least take them to do each once. They can decide if they enjoy it or not. At best, you’ve taught them useful skills. At worst, you’ve spent time with your child. Either way, kids know there’s a big world out there waiting to be explored and you’re facilitating that exploration.
4. Car basics. Teach them how to change a tire, jump a battery, check the oil, and pump gas. If you don’t do that, you fail. End of discussion. Your daughter is going to learn to drive and you won’t always be there to save the day. Failing to give her knowledge on how to handle basic vehicle maintenance is akin to throwing her to the wolves. Yes, I’m being harsh on this, deal with it. If she wants to learn how to change the oil, replace the battery, rebuild the engine, etc., great! Get out in the garage and teach her! But the four essentials are exactly that. They are non-negotiable.
5. Leave your dignity at the door. Face it, Daddy, you are going to end up doing something absurd for your kiddo that will become a night-time ritual. Every night, before Lexi goes to bed, I become King Julian from Madagascar.
Laugh all you want. My little girl thinks I’m the shit.
As with the link that inspired this post, these are all common sense. But we all need a reminder from time to time. When it comes to daughters, their daddies are the standard that all young men must meet. It keeps you from having to apply Rule 7.
7. SSS – Shoot, Shovel, Shut Up. Be proficient with your weapon. Aim center mass. Keep your e-tool ready and 50lbs of lime in the garage. A tarp comes in handy, as does a bed cover for your truck.
Now I really don’t advocate bringing death upon your daughter’s suitors, but you’d be a fool to let those suitors know that. In my daughter’s case, all they will know is that Lexi’s dad is a combat veteran who loves his daughter and woe be to the little jerk who hurts her.