Throughout my two-plus years of fatherhood, I’ve learned some of the tools of the trade. Parenting is a constant learning process, just like work, sex, or golf. Some of it comes naturally, but most of it you have to put the effort in and learn how to improve your craft.
Now I’m not at Hall of Fame levels or anything, but I’m doing alright (AKA my kid is still breathing and isn’t a huge asshole). I’ve admittedly taken a parenting class, and scoff all you want, but I think everyone should at least to see a different perspective from someone who’s devoted their entire life to studying parenting. Between that and a couple years of experience, I’ve learned some shit. Seeing as a majority of you reading this will eventually be a parent, here’s today’s free key:
Learn to fake enthusiasm.
Part of your job is simply to make them think you give a shit, especially when they’re little. Knowing how much you care will make them happy beyond words, usually because they aren’t that good at putting words together yet.
The other day I grabbed my trusty broom/dustpan combo to do battle with my kitchen floor. Like a bullet, my offspring raced to grab his miniature broom and help me, which he did with much gusto. Afterward, I enthusiastically told him how much I appreciated his help, and thank you. He beamed a smile that would melt even the blackest of hearts.
In reality, what I said in my head was, “Good God, kid, the object of sweeping isn’t to drive your broom through the middle of my pile like an asshole. If it weren’t for your constant fuckery, I could’ve finished in half the time.”
But kids just love to “help,” and it’s your job not to crush their spirit about it and to encourage. You’ve gotta dig deep like MJ in the flu game when you’re picking up what seems like 12 million Legos by letting your kid know how great this is to be cleaning. They need to know how important picking up after themselves is so they’ll have something to piss you the fuck off with when they’re teenagers.
This skill is also a necessity when it comes to the stuff your kid finds important. “Oh wow, what a great job coloring!” when they come show you their coloring book page that looks like a Michael J. Fox masterpiece. And even though this is about the millionth time you’ve seen them turn the key in the fake ignition of their stupid fake car and then pretend to drive, make sure they know how much you are enjoying watching that. They’ll love you for it.
Most of the time you won’t even need to put in the effort, as seeing your child enjoying something, however much of a pain in the ass to you or boring that it seems, makes it easy to get excited. Sweeping a floor with your bumbling offspring is an experience you’ll treasure; simply a precious moment. But there are those times when your patience has worn so damn thin and you just have to remind yourself to give that hearty smile and laugh. You might feel like it’s mundane and exhausting to continue to force yourself to be the jolliest person on the planet sometimes, but it’s worth it. Especially to the little one.
Once you’re engrossed in parenting life disinteresting things are going to be thrown at your face like a roided-out Jason Grimsley heater. You have to be ready to play ball. Tomorrow morning I’m going to nestle into my couch in the morning and wish like hell I could just throw on MLB Network. But no, my child will want to intently watch Curious George with me and will want us both to laugh at that dumbass monkey’s hijinks. And if it keeps my kid happy, I’ll fake like hell that I think old George is funny and not a menace to society who should be caged.
If you’ve got a parenting question, give me a shout in the comments or slide into my DMs on Twitter, and maybe I’ll write about it. .
Image via YouTube