There are things I swore I’d never do as a dad, and this is one of them. Right here, right now, sitting the grass, watching my daughter begin to cry — she’s fighting back tears and trying her best to keep it together, as her friends toddle off back to the soccer — I feel like the lowest human being in the world.
Scum. Garbage. Santorum.
Who makes his daughter tear up over a stupid game?
I swore I wouldn’t be “that dad” — the one who takes things like sports so seriously that he ruins the very essence of sports itself: fun, camaraderie, learning to be a good sport. But in the heat of the moment, I said something stupid about her lackluster playing and turned a glorious, sun-kissed day into one of the worst of my life. I watched her take the criticism and turn it over for a moment before beginning to cry. She’s five.
This is not the introduction to the sporting world I had envisioned, for either of us.
I always thought I would be more chill, more of a roll-with-the-punches type of sideline dad who revels in hard work and having fun. This little moment was a life lesson that I know will stick with me for the rest of my child-watching sports days: It’s a game, lighten up, dude; it’s supposed to be fun. I just wish that I didn’t have to learn it the hard way, as the one who really suffered was my daughter.
The episode got me thinking about all the things that I swore I would NEVER do as a dad. And yet, I wound up doing all of them any way. This is, indeed, the most dramatic and the one that constantly plagues me. But there are other, thankfully much lighter things, that I find myself doing now, despite the fact that my pre-kid self would probably shake his head in disbelief. (If not come right out and mock me altogether.)
So here you go, the things I never thought I’d do as a dad. I’d love to hear yours in the comments.
Become a sideline clown 1 of 8You know? THAT DAD. The one who is not being a good sport himself? Ugh, this one will bother me for the rest of my days. I feel horrible every time I think about it. I love sports and the last thing I want is to turn my daughter away from the fun of it all. I'm sorry, kiddo!
Watch TV 2 of 8Seriously. I had TV on my list of "nevers" for reasons I can't even comprehend any more -- something about "no screen time" or "only playing with fresh-hewn, commune-made hippie building blocks." For the first couple years of my daughter's life, this worked out well. And then we learned about "How It's Made" and "Dirty Jobs" and "The Sound of Music" and all was lost. There's nothing better than cuddling up on the couch for a musical sing-along.
Play princess 3 of 8Yeah, I was pretty anti-princess, too. No child of mine would learn to play at marriage chattel, shoring up alliances with a dynasty by marrying any available hemophiliac. But you know, she came home from preschool one day, declared herself "Queen Emme" and I went along with it. It's a phase she's passed now but I don't think wearing a crown every now and then hurt either of us.
Talk endlessly about my child 4 of 8Guilty. Guilty guilty guilty. As a young and single moron, I listened to older friends ramble on about their kids and thought, "I will never do that." But now I'm flipping out my phone to show pictures to anyone who will look and telling tales about schoolyard awesomeness or classroom endeavors to anyone who will listen. I must be such a bore now, singing the praises of this tiny gift. But I also don't really care. Want to see a photo?
Use the bathroom in front of her 5 of 8I can't believe I ever imagined this was possible. I've got some serious personal issues when it comes to using the bathroom -- I can't even type anything other than "use the bathroom" -- but that, along with all semblance of privacy, goes right out of the window the moment you have a kid. Now I can't imagine NOT using the bathroom in front of people.
Swear in front of her 6 of 8Ha! I think this was broken on day one.
Feed her formula or, later, sugar 7 of 8Life intervenes, yo. Stuff happens. The best laid plans get turned on their head by these amazingly little monkeys, and there are plenty of times you just have to roll with what's given you. I never thought we'd feed our daughter formula, and yet, when the time came, it was the only thing that worked. Later, it was sugar ... just yesterday we gulped hot chocolate on a rainy day and laughed at spilled marshmallows. My pre-kid me was kind of a prick.
Say, “Because I said so …” 8 of 8When you're childless and dumb and full of sleep, you think it's quite possible -- no, necessary -- to reason with a child and explain everything with heartfelt conversations about life and the miracle of soap, or whatever. Then all of a sudden you've got dinner to make, a house to clean, a child to bathe and a school project to finish and you're muttering, "Because I said so ..." to whatever comes your way as you think about all the dishes you still need to rinse.
Slideshow photos: Morguefile