posted by Matt W on April 24th, 2013

Well over the course of history, Dads have been responsible for teaching their kids how to do many things. So I decided to come up with a list. I thought of the classics like how to bait a hook or cast, how to skip a stone, or how to oil your mitt. And while I have taught my children these things those really aren’t my style to blog about, so below is my list. Dads teach their kids how to:

  1. Drink from a bottle — Many years ago, my wife and I took our nephews to a Mariners baseball game. As a treat, we stopped by the store on the way to the game to get sodas and candy. One nephew picked Coke, and the other Sprite. They chugged away at their sodas while eating their candy and the all important “Ball Park Frank,” and while the Coke was an excellent choice for concealing the backwash, the Sprite just served as a lens into my younger nephew’s food choices of the day. It was truly disgusting. “Don’t wrap your lips so tightly around that sucker, kids. Seriously stop or I might get sick.” Every once in a while, in college, you would see someone with the tell-tale “my dad let me down” lip lock on a bottle and I always felt a little sorry for them as I mocked them.
  2. Change a wiper blade/jump a battery — Car things have historically fallen to fathers. I just taught my daughter how to change wiper blades. It’s tricky the first time and then no big deal. Jumping a battery is also one of those things that the second time around is easy. With AAA available and numerous auto shops everywhere, this usually paternal responsibility will soon no longer be needed.
  3. Build a fire — It’s cool and as there aren’t as many opportunities to burn stuff these days, it is a way to set something on fire with your wife’s approval. “It’s a learning experience for the kids honey, seriously how are they going to learn?” And when out of earshot, “OK kids, this is called an accelerant…”
  4. Mow the lawn — I bought a replacement lawnmower the other day. The salesperson asked if I wanted the extended warranty. My response was “No, I don’t think my kids will be doing much mowing going forward, and I know how to take care of a machine.” He chuckled and moved on to the next question. Seriously, it’s not only about cutting the grass. If it takes me an hour to fix the mower after every cutting, you’re not saving me much time. If the mower seems harder to push all the sudden, sounds dramatically different, or smoke is involved, immediately stop and come and get me. After years of child-abuse, I finally got a new mower. After writing this it seems like maybe I failed at this one.
  5. Know what real music is — While there are many interesting groups around these days, there is a lot of crap as well. As often as possible, I just try to point out the offensively crappy. “You realize they had the same crappy computer drum line the whole time? Crap.” “None of those words actually made sense together. Pure crap.” “The only viable reason for that song is to mock your intelligence, solid crap.” My daughter recently said to me, “That Supertramp album you gave me was really cool, why don’t they make more music like that?” Mission accomplished and you’re welcome.
  6. Flip people off (and swear) — First of all, I only teach my children how to flip people off for good. No mean-spirited flip-offs allowed. Swearing has the same rules but with even stricter standards including the always important, “all swearing is off-limits when a grandmother is in the house.” There is a real talent involved in the perfect flipping off of someone or appropriate swearing and if you can pull it off with your mother in the room, then I have done my job as a teacher.
  7. Plunge a toilet — “OK, for the 57th time, Number 1, you have to form a seal and Number 2… yes that was an coincidental numbering system, but seriously Number 2, you get to clean up the mess you make, so don’t get to enthusiastic with the plunge motion.” Followed 6 seconds later by, “Slow down next time and the towels are in the laundry room.” Is it really that difficult?
  8. Be quiet when you’re right and your wife/mother is wrong because the collateral damage will be too great if you stand your ground — I try and I try and I try to get my kids to understand, but apparently you need to be married for about 10 years before that one sinks in. Or so they say.
  9. Read instructions (as in only when needed) — First, most instructions suck. Seriously suck. Second, if you need instructions to put together an IKEA coffee table, well I’m surprised that you could actually read this far into a blog. Directions are only to be used in dire circumstances like when putting together a bicycle for Christmas morning and at 4:00 AM you end up with 4 extra pieces and the bike still seems a little wobbly. Then it’s OK to pull them out. Other than that, figure it out for yourself. That’s why we were given a brain.
  10. Use a Knife — The other day my daughter was pealing a mango with a knife and was pulling the blade down the mango and toward her exposed wrist. “Stop! Did your Mother teach you how to do it that way?” My wife didn’t find my line amusing. “OK, let’s start from the top; always use a sharp knife…”

Well there were a few of tidbits of wisdom I have shared with my children over the years. I’d be interested to hear any of your experinces. Comment away!



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