Fathers’ days: Unsolicited advice from an experienced dad

June 2016 Posted in Columnists & Opinion

dixon2016By Dixon Bledsoe

With Father’s Day around the corner, that means family gatherings, soaking up rays (hopefully not the 100 degree kind), my mouth salivating over a smoked brisket on the Traeger and reflecting on fatherhood and children.

Being a father has been an incredible journey. There are several friends and family members becoming parents for the first time this year and it just made sense to impart some pearls of wisdom, warnings and free yet unsolicited advice from a father with 25 years of experience.

Someone once told me, “Children are the most selfish creatures God ever put on this earth. Once you understand this and learn to deal with it, it gets easier.”

Babies cry because they are hungry; cry because they are tired; cry because they are dragging around a 9-pound diaper; cry because your five o’clock shadow is like coarse sandpaper; and cry because they don’t want to go to bed or because you put them there instead of letting them entertain your friends with baby tricks. They will laugh because someone they love makes funny sounds.

When they are hungry, they want to eat NOW. When their diapers are full of unpleasantnesses, they want a new one NOW, or better yet, prefer to run around naked when someone who loves them gives chase.

They have yet to pick up subtle clues like you had a rotten day. It will take years until they develop social filters like keeping projectile vomiting to themselves or not breaking eye-glasses with piercing screams in a serene restaurant.

Being a father means seeing the same dance recital five nights in a row in a hot gym and gushing that each performance was better than the last. It means celebrating a 3-pointer that almost made it to the hoop just like it was the game-clinching NBA Finals shot in LeBron James’ face.

It means pretending you understand modern math and advanced statistics because you took it 30 years ago (and got a “10” on your first test).  And then it means paying for a tutor who actually does understand it.

Being a dad means you are there when they need you; gone when they don’t; and remain in the shadows because you know they are going to need you any moment and they just don’t recognize it yet. It means teaching them life lessons by example and learning life lessons by letting them make their own mistakes as long as it does not involve juggling knives at the preschool talent show.

It means letting them learn the pain of being dumped, and the relief of a soft landing in dad’s waiting arms with his promise to harm the evil-doer. It means not saying “I told you so” when the brick-weighted paper airplane doesn’t clear the couch, and saying “I told you so” when they get a “B” in a class they were sure they would fail.  It means cursing quietly on Christmas Eve as you assemble a 497-piece bicycle at 2 a.m. because they are going to want to ride it.

It means holding your breath and praying in your head when a late night call comes in, because late night calls seldom deliver glad tidings.  It means doing the right thing when they are looking and when they aren’t, because they probably were and you just didn’t know it.

Being a dad means saying “I hate what you did but will always love you.” It means loving their mother, because they see, hear, learn and feel what love is and isn’t. If you are a first-time dad, be a good one. If you are a good dad, be a better one. And if you are an awesome dad, enjoy the brisket!

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