On Fathers’ Day

I am not very comfortable with Father’s Day. After eleven years of being a father, I still feel like I have absolutely no clue what I am doing. I am just trying to make sure I do not screw my boys up too bad. I am not sure I want a day that puts a spotlight on what I am doing here. I kind of want to just fly under the radar, keep the explosions to a minimum, limit visits to the ER, and not have kids that embarrass me in public. I really do not need an entire day focusing on that job that I am muddling through. However, for some unknown reason, I was asked today about what my one big take-away has been from being a father. This is how I answered.

I never, ever want my children to look at me and say, “I want to be just like my dad when I grow up.” That is setting the bar way too low. They can be better than me. The do not have to settle for what they see in me today.

Children are incredibly perceptive. They know that I struggle with putting other first. They know that I can be quick-tempered. They know that I can be selfish and demanding. They know that I have a personality that pushes people away. They know I can be slow to forgive. They know other flaws that I probably am blind to. If they look at me and see a 41-year old man who is perfectly comfortable living with those shortcomings, I have given them permission to be comfortable with their shortcomings. I have told them that it is OK to stop improving. I do not want this.

I want them to look at me and see a 41-year-old man who does a lot of things of right, but is always working to improve. I want them to see a father who recognizes where he falls short, acknowledges these shortcomings and continues to work on them no matter how many times he fails. I want them to see a father who is a little bit better than he was yesterday, which was a little better than he was last year. There is no end point.

I never want my children to view me as a finished product to which they should aspire. I want them to see a fallible man who is continuing to improve as a person, as a husband, and as a father today, when I am fifty, and when I am eighty. Quite frankly, I want my grandchildren to see that.

I never want James and Ben to look at me and say, “I want to be just like my dad when I grow up.” I want them to say, “I want to work as hard as my dad because he has never stopped trying to be a better person. I always want to move forward like he does.” That would make me happy.

Happy Fathers’ Day to everybody.

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Summer Internship

Job Vacancy: Summer Intern

Period of Employment: Until I go back to work in August.

Job Description: A unique and wonderful opportunity to job shadow a school psychologist during his summer schedule and learn how to properly make use of summer vacation. Applicant will be expected to help his or her (preferably her) mentor to accomplish Daily Living Skills as the mentor’s brain slowly deteriorates into blissful summer mush.

Duties include:
1) Chauffer work – Ben and James will be attending various camps and activities this summer. While people may say, “Erik, you have no kids from 1:00-5:00!” they do not realize that four hour block is really chewed up. In reality, I’m in my car at 12:45 to drop James at his Imovie class at 1:00, back to my house by 1:15 only to leave at 1:45 to drop Ben off at 2:00 soccer. Back to IMovie class by 2:50 to pick up James, back home by 3:15 and leaving at again to pick up Ben at 5:00.” There are various stages of “kid-free” but no blocks of time to golf, get something done, or stare blankly at a wall. All of which are essential for summer. Intern will take over driving. No gas reimbursement

2) Name change – Intern’s new name will be Daaaaaad! I will continue to address issues directed to Dad (monosyllabic). Any inquiries made to Daaaaad! (multisyllabic, loud, and from another room) will be handled by intern. Intern will develop new skills in conflict resolution, resilience to nagging, and minor first aid. I will continue to post on the internet and encourage George R.R. Martin to put down the chicken wings and write.

3) House work – My wife occasionally leaves me a list of things to accomplish. My wife is occasionally disappointed. Cleaning bathrooms, picking up Lego, and mowing lawns may be the greatest obstacles to conquering Rainbow Road. New characters do not unlock themselves! Intern will assume these housework duties.

4) Social Media – Intern will act as social media filter. I seriously turn the brain off in the summer. Neurologists have discovered that the social media filter is located in the prefrontal lobe and we all know that is the first part of the brain to power down. Intern will ensure that I do not post anything that will get me arrested, fired, or divorced.

5) Item location – Intern must be able to quickly locate items in the house. By August, my wife is sick of receiving texts from me begging for help finding objects that I can easily locate from September through mid-June. Last August, when I asked her for help finding where I sat my coffee cup, she quickly pointed out that I was holding it and said the words every husband longs to hear. “Erik, you are so STUPID! You have to go back to work!”

6) Wardrobe Coordinator – Without my wife around when I get dressed, I need someone to make sure that I tone down the sexy. If I am not careful, I can tip the delicate balance of the earth towards a wild, hedonistic orb rotating on an axis of sexual desire. I need someone to assume the duty of saying, “Erik, those orange plaid shorts with the red striped shirt is a little too sexy to be seen in. Maybe you should change.” She knows how to keep a lid on things.

7) Faux Friendship – While I enjoy being away from work, I do miss adult contact. Without people who are contractually obligated to spend time with me, my world shrinks to dinosaurs, Minecraft, people under 5 feet tall and explanations of why I am refusing to buy a $100 soccer jersey that would be grass-stained and outgrown in three weeks. Intern must act like they are my friend. Seriously, I do not care if you actually like me. Pity laugh at a few of my jokes, give me a fictitious compliment and as long as you do not act like you are disgusted by my presence, we will be good. I am not a proud man. You only have to tolerate my presence until 5:30 before that burden falls onto my wife.

8) Duties as otherwise assigned – Basically, intern will do whatever I say without saying, “Why?” “I haven’t reached a save point,” “.. but mom says,” “No fair,” “I don’t want to” or “Are you sure that’s safe?” Oh, that would be so sweet….

Interested parties should send me a resume and cover letter stating why they are uniquely qualified for this rare and exciting experience.

I reserve the right to discriminate based upon opinions of cats, adding a ‘s’ to the end of “Meijer,” referring to me as “dear,” “sweety” or “honey” (if you are going to refer to me in those terms we better have pretty darn intimate relationship) and any other petty reason that pops into my head.

Extinction

I am never going to get to see a dodo bird. I am also pretty ticked off that I will never have the opportunity to see a Quagga because those things look freaking awesome. They look like God changed his mind halfway through making something and thought, “Meh, good enough. I lost my eraser and have other things to do.”

They say that mankind is usually behind extinction, but I remain convinced that childkind has eliminated more things from my life than deforestation, meteor strikes or any massive climate change ever could. Below are species that I once knew but have faded into legend.

1. Filmius Coolius – At one time awesome movies were a regular part of my life. I am now convinced that films that do not involve animation, voiced-over animals, super-heroes, or CGI dinosaurs no longer exist

2. Volume Minimumois – Long ago, Volume Minimumois (commonly known as Silence) dominated my household. However, children brought a new, invasive species called Volume Maximus that has eradicated Volume Minimumois. My life is now overrun with yelling, laser sounds, crashing noises, questions and generalized chaos.

3. Spontaneose Sexiose – Another of my favorite creatures that is but a distant memory. The demise of Spontaneose Sexiose can be directly traced to a newly evolved species known as Sexiose Scheduloso. Unfortunately, this rare and elusive species seldom awakens before 10PM on weekends and is rarely observed due to its reluctance to appear anywhere but behind a door that has been more tightly secured than Fort Knox.

4. Conversation Adultum – Biologist have concluded children produce a pheromone that is toxic to Conversation Adultum. As such, I am no longer capable of having an adult conversation with my wife that does not involve children. Even when there are no longer children present, we have found that we are incapable of having a conversation that does not involve phrases such as, “Did you notice during the orchestra concert that Ben was using his viola bow as a lightsaber?” or “Do you think the kids are asleep yet so we can go home and go to bed? Sadly, I do not think even Sexiose Scheduloso is around because we are just too tired.”

5. Mealiose Satisfactiose – Mealiose Satisfactiose once involved a pleasant meal (often accompanied by Conversation Adultum) that was eaten in a timely manner and ended with me leaving the table happy. However, children have hunted Mealiose Satisfactiose into extinction. Now dinner moves at a glacial pace with me continually reminding James that he can not survive on oxygen alone and must consume food. In the meantime, Ben is yelling, “I call the last taco!” Dinner now involves me with glazed over eyes begging James to eat while at the same time really wishing that the last taco had found its way to my plate.

6. Slumberum inum –This quiet, peaceful beast has proven to have minimum tolerance for children and is gone from my life. Initially Slumberum inum was pushed to the brink of extinction by crying, feeding and diaper changes. The species made a brief comeback but has proven incapable of surviving blasting TVs, crashing of self-made breakfasts, and screams of “get your foot on your side of the couch. Come to think of it Volume Maximus is probably responsible for the extinction of Slumberum Inum as well as Volume Minimumois. Sadly, even in the absence of Volume Maximus, I have found that I no longer remember know how to care for Slumberum Inum and will probably never see its like again.

7. Podiatrinium Comfortum – Commonly known as “Painfree Feet” this extinct species was not able to coexist with children and has been pushed to the brink of extinction . Children eliminated the habitat that Podiatrinium Comfortum needed to survive. Clear rooms and pathways were overrun with objects that stub toes in the dark, Legos that painfully lacerate the soles of feet, and various wheeled toys that roll ankles or topple the mightiest of giants. The few remaining Painfree Feet are now carefully protected by conservation efforts such as slippers or plate-mail boots. For the sake of the survival of Podiatrinium Comfortum, few are allowed out into the wild without protection.

8. Spotliuss Furnituruss – The elimination of this species by children was so thorough and immediate that no conservation efforts were even taken. Knowing the that Spotliuss Furnituruss was doomed by spilled drinks, goldfish crackers, filthy bodies, vomit, and jumping children, we gave up and invested in Furnituruss Crappyness. Seriously, why bother? Leading biologists feel that this species may be able to recover when children leave its habitat.

So many species extinct and yet my world continues to evolve and survive. While children have destroyed many species, new ones have constantly arisen. Nerfius Weapionus, Randomus Huggius, and Constant Laughonium have been welcome additions to the world. Still looking for a unicorn or three though. That would be cool.