Father’s Day is this Sunday. It’s a quick reminder that I’m a father of three. You might wonder why I need a reminder. Well, it’s because I often feel like I’m still about 15 years younger than I am.
Then I wonder: Who are these kids and why do they keep asking me so many questions?
Oh, that’s right, because I’m their dad and I am responsible for their well-being. Who in their right mind would give me this level of responsibility? I tried very hard through my twenties to prove that I was barely responsible enough to ensure my own well-being. Now I have these three miniature humans to care for.
As it turns out, it’s not that hard. Or maybe I just have one of those paternal instincts that took over. Either way, I’ve discovered that parenting, basically, consists of feeding them, making sure they get to school and paying attention to them.
Sounds easy enough, right? It is. Until it isn’t.
I’ll explain: When they’re younger, there’s a lot of, “Hey Dad, watch this!” going on.
The “this” can vary, but is usually something amazingly death-defying like your child jumping off a curb, catching a frog or dipping their head below the water in the pool and swimming several feet, pretending to be a dolphin (my son literally just did this exact move as I’m typing). But, as an 8-year-old boy, showing us these daredevil acts are his everything. So, we pay attention.
As they get older, the “watch this” can get a little more complicated. My daughter is going on 13, but she looks and likes to act like she’s going on 17.
Her “Hey, watch this” is more of the “Look at this outfit,” or “Do you like my new swimsuit?” variety.
As a dad, who knows that there are little boys that act like I did as a teenager, this is stressful. She is a beautiful girl. If she wasn’t so smart and responsible I’d be very worried. But, I have learned over the years that attention is a necessity for little girls.
Her needs are number one, attention; number two, food; and number three, shelter…in that order.
So, we pay attention.
Then there’s the oldest of the offspring. His “Hey, watch this” is more of a “I hope no one is looking.”
He’s 15, after all. He’s just as hard-headed as I was. The problem was, someone was always looking. I got busted for absolutely everything when I was his age. So when he makes the same mistakes, it drives me crazy. I try to teach him from the mistakes I’ve made. But it’s almost like I’m just giving him ideas. Or, he’s trying to outdo me. However, I’ve found that the more distracted we are, the more he does these things. So, we pay attention.
In the end, they all just want attention. They have different ways of showing it, but they do. When you stop paying attention, it’s when you start having problems. I’m a very selfish person, so I’ll admit, this is sometimes a challenge for me. But the payoff is pretty awesome.
I found myself having one of those “what if” moments the other day. All three kids were arguing about whatever. I was tired, irritated and wanted to be anywhere else in the world. Then I wondered, “What would my life be like without these little hellions?”
The answer: I don’t really want to know.
Happy Father’s Day to all the real dads out there, paying attention.