posted by Joe Anaya on April 26th, 2013

Wednesday, Matt W. posted a blog about things dads teach their kids. He wanted to skip the obvious things like how to bait a hook or skip a rock on water. So here are a few of my favorites, in no particular order.

  1. Throw a punch – I’m not just talking about keeping your thumb outside the grasp of your fingers, but keeping your elbow in, your wrist straight, and put your weight into it. Nothing says, “I can take care of myself” like a hit with some uumph behind it. Used in self-defense only, of course.
  2. Chop wood – Cutting down a tree. Chain saw, bow saw, axe, it doesn’t matter. Knowing how to cut the wedge and make a tree fall where you want it to is pretty gratifying and impressive.
  3. Grill a steak – Why to do men like grilling? Because it’s like cooking, but more dangerous. Cooking with the potential of blowing up is way more interesting than frying in a pan. And there’s something primal about barbequing. I can see my caveman ancestor pushing the day’s kill into the fire and getting that smoky meaty smell in the nostrils. Just remember: 5 minutes to heat the grill, 3 ½ minutes on the grill, 45 degree turn and another 3 ½ minutes (7 minutes total on one side) flip and repeat. You’ll have the perfect medium rare steak.
  4. Change a tire – Even with AAA and roadside assistance, you’ll save yourself and your kids a lot of trouble if they know how to change a tire. A couple of days after teaching my stepson how to change a tire, I got a call, “Where did you say the jack went to lift the car?” I talked him through the steps he had just learned. He got home safely and I didn’t even have to leave the couch.
  5. Act like you’ve been there before – It’s old school but learning to be graceful in winning is a nice thing to pass on to kids. Elaborate touchdown celebrations are the opposite of grace. I’ll accept a spike of the ball in a crucial situation, but for the most part Barry Sanders’ “just find the ref and hand him the ball” was the epitome of class.
  6. How to be the Alpha to your dog – It’s a lot about consistency in the face of whimpering, something my wife’s not good at. Knowing the difference between a healthy “command and control” tone of voice. I’m not asking my dog to come here; I’m not panicking for him to come here; I’m telling him. And lastly, lots of treats.
  7. Pump up a ball – It’s a subtle thing but useful. And who else is going to teach them to wet the needle before inserting it into the rubber hole to pump up a ball? Footballs should be firm with no softness. Basketballs should bounce to your bellybutton when dropped from eyeball height.
  8. Which urinal to use – Never take one next to someone else. Always leave an empty one between you and another guy. If you have to be next to someone, keep your eyes on YOUR prize. If you’re alone, take the one next to the wall, giving some one else the opportunity to leave an empty urinal next to you.
  9. Read a map – With GPS in cars and on phones, this is a lost art. And you’ll get some resistance in learning, because of the pervasiveness of GPS. I’ve had some luck by starting early. Whenever we’d go on long trips, I’d pick up a Trip-tik from AAA and hand it to my son. “Where are we now?” was my nudge to him to take a look and figure out where we were on the highlighted line. Also because my car was older and didn’t have built in GPS, he felt like he was providing a needed service. Win, win.
  10. Using tools – I don’t know how to fix everything like my dad did. But because he taught me how to use tools, I have the confidence to tackle almost any job. With a solid grounding in how to use tools, a decent understanding of mechanics and some common sense, I can fix a lot of things without knowing exactly how to fix them before I start. Come to think of it, maybe my dad didn’t know how to fix everything.

Find your dad and either thank him for teaching you things you wouldn’t learn anywhere else or find your dad and ask him to teach you one of these things.

File Under Jack of all Trades