Monday, May 19, 2008

Lessons for my son, age 6

The middle male of the Uncool household, a.k.a. Thing 2, turned 6 over the weekend. This is a pretty amazing feat for you, little dude, because, in all seriousness, Mom and I gave much thought on Day 4 of your existence to trading you in for a quieter model.

thing 2 self-portraitI walked three miles around the creaky second floor of our old house that first-night-into-morning you were home, son, bouncing you in my arms, swaying you back and forth, swaddling and re-swaddling, singing you my up-to-that-time-never-miss (at least for your big sister) bedtime medley of "Sunny Afternoon" and "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay." All for naught, boy, all for naught.

Thanks goodness for Tanqueray. I mean, for me. Over the next three weeks, it eased the soreness you caused in my right knee that night.

As for your problem, well, seems Mom wasn't putting out enough and you just needed a big ol' helping of artificial help. Consider that your first life lesson.

On this most important occasion, son, let me say that I see a lot of me in you. And I am so, so very sorry for that.
The least I can do is try to tell you about some of the many left turns I made when I should have gone right in life. So, sit down, let me put on my cardigan and fill up my pipe … there, that's enough bubble solution … and here we go:

Southern Comfort and instant iced tea … not a good drinking experience from start to the inevitable finish.

Don't do illegal drugs.

If you are in Amsterdam, however, where certain pharmaceuticals are legal, find someone who actually knows how to roll that thing up for you. Nothing says "ugly American tourist" quite like walking the canals while shy an eyebrow.

Righty, tighty; lefty, loosey.

When the boss tells you NOT do something -- like, say, file a claim for full-time status and benefits since you have been working 40 hours a week as a freelancer for the past two years -- because doing so might "jeopardize you ever having any kind of career in this organization," find a new organization. Then, give the old one the finger as politely as possible on the way out the door.

Learn to tell people "no" and not feel guilty about it. Your mom is a master at this.

Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. Especially when you sneak a flight to Miami over spring break to hook up with your girlfriend.

Which reminds me. In picking a girlfriend, "family history of mental stability" almost always beats "looks hot in those jeans."

Don't fall for that "you need to match my dress" line. You will never look at old photos of yourself in the basic black tux and cummerbund, shake your head, and wonder what you were sniffing prior to rental.

Like me as a child, you love playing with Hot Wheels cars. Note that this does not translate into a working knowledge of real automobiles when you are older.

Avoid paying for "light" beer. Drinking it is acceptable as long as that's all that's still available from the concession stand or you need to clean out the refrigerator after a party to made room for better things.

Take a job for fun, not profit, at least once in your life.

In my day, it was funny to put dishwashing liquid in a cupcake and give it to that mean 8th grade reading teacher. It was funnier when she was out sick the next day. Today, that will just get you arrested.

You may like dinosaurs now, son, but you won't like working for one when you grow up.

You're going to lose more often than you win at most things. The faster you learn to accept that, the sooner you'll start enjoying the experience as well as the glory.

Forget the GPA, suck it up and take an actual typing class.

There will be times you will need to tell your significant other that she (or he, if need be, I can handle that, too) is right even though you have irrefutable, concrete evidence to the contrary. Trust me on this.

Always question authority, except mine. I may steer you wrong from time to time, but it won't ever be because I am deliberating trying to screw you over.


  1. Sound (and poetic) advice.

    I'm going to forward this to some of my guy friends. I think this could be your Anna Quindlan/Kurt Vonnegut internet urban myth moment.

    On testosterone, of course.

  2. What a good read! Found you via Blogtations and had to follow the link. Good to have a Daddy's voice out here~

  3. M: I love you for so many reasons. But here are 3 quickies:

    One - you put up with sugar-encrusted children like Thing 2 all day for nearly as little pay as me.

    B - You recognize dads are parents, too.

    III - You smell FANTASTIC. New shampoo?

    Thanks, honestly. Tell your friends and neighbors that we never run out of glasses at my place because we only drink from the tap.

  4. just stumbled onto your post while strolling through the internet...

    this is so sweet.
    there is nothing in the world like a good dad.

    (i should know, i have a good one too)

    so... thumbs up!



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