Dad’s and Boyfriends

As a rule, dads don’t generally like boyfriends. We love to make threats about what will happen to them if they hurt our daughters, or step out of bounds. These threats often involve shotguns and unmarked graves located in the swamp. We are unmercifully critical of them, and we are unlikely to cut them any slack whatsoever.

This is probably not much different than how parents of boys feel about their potential girlfriends.  And I’m sure there will be parents who are as skeptical of my girls as I am about their boys. But being the father of two girls, I can only write about how I view boyfriends.

One reason for this universal hatred of boyfriends is the thought of these little hormone gremlins doing unimaginable things to our daughters that shouldn’t happen until she is married, which shouldn’t be a day before her sixty-fifth birthday. Unfortunately, every dad was once a hormone gremlin himself. We know how they think. We know how they operate.

And it cannot be overlooked that teenage girls can be encouragers of the hormone gremlins. Teenage girls are quick to learn the power they hold over boys. This makes for a deadly combination, and it is for this reason that we are ever vigilant and suspicious of their every action.

Another reason for us to persecute boyfriends is perhaps to weed out the weaker ones from the pack. I have constant nightmares about her marrying some deadbeat and moving into my basement for ten years while he finishes hip-hop album.

In my mind, there is no boy worthy of my daughter’s hand in marriage. But knowing that her getting married is inevitable, I do my best to make sure our daughter ends up with the best husband possible.

But when I really sit and think about it, there is yet another reason beyond the other obvious ones, that dads hate boyfriends so much. That reason is simply not being willing to give up the monopoly that a dad holds on being their daughter’s hero. A boyfriend is someone who might eventually end up stealing that title.

I mean who is this punk that he thinks he can just come in here and win my daughters heart with nothing more than his cocky sense of humor and his seventy-five dollar pair of baggy jeans?

Where was he when she was a baby? It wasn’t him who cleaned up all those poopy diapers or walked her for countless midnight hours while she screamed at the top of her lungs. Where was he for all those skinned knees, bruises, and hurt feelings that I comforted her through? Where was he when her first hamster died and together we held a backyard funeral service? He wasn’t the one who had protected her and kept her from harm for the last sixteen years. He hadn’t even come close to earning an equal place in my daughter’s heart. It’s not fair for him to even have a chance!

Then I remember that I was once that punk kid showing up at another father’s doorstep . . . hoping to steal the affections of his daughter. I have to stop and tell myself that whichever one of these annoying punks’ ends up winning my daughter as his wife may not have earned the right to be her hero as much as I had, but maybe only because he hadn’t had the chance yet.

So as painful as it may be, I realize that I must grant this Johnny-come-lately temporary permission to be my baby girl’s hero. I will give him a chance to earn the title. I will allow him the opportunity to become my daughter’s protector and comforter. And later still, to become everything I was to my daughter, with his own son or daughter . . . my grandchild.

So whichever one of you my daughter ends up picking, take this temporary permission that I give, and use it wisely. Earn the right to be called my daughter’s hero, and the hero of my grandchildren. Because if you squander this chance, or fail to live up to this title, you will have me to deal with, and the stories involving shotguns and shallow graves in a swamp, may end up not being just stories after all.

Bear Hugs and I’m Sorrys.

“I’m not here to be your friend, I’m here to be your parent.”

That statement has never really sat well with me. I get the thought behind the idea, but I’ve always felt that being an effective parent requires staying relevant in a child’s life beyond drill sargeant and enforcer. I try very hard at being both . . . . Parent and friend.

I have always considered bear hugs as a litmus for gauging how I’m doing with my balancing act between drill sargeant and friend.

I frequently attack my girls with hugs, like a bear mauling an unfortunate victim. Only my girls don’t fight like the victim of a bear attack might. In fact, they hug back. I figure if my ambush hugs don’t result in them vomitting or punching me in the face, They must not think that my being their dad is all that repulsive yet. 

But like I said, my girls hug back, and we wrestle (they don’t get a free pass on me hurling them to ground just because they are girls . . . Although the older I get and the stronger they get, it is not always I who does the hurling) and it is not uncommon for me to have one of them leaning on me while watching a movie . . . . Sometimes its both girls plus all variety of domesticated beast that mistakingly thinks that my affection for my girls automatically applies to their flea bitten carcasses as well.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to suggest that my parenting or there teenagering is anywhere near perfect. We argue, disrespect and throw tantrums with a ferocity that would make even Dr. Phil blush. That’s where the “I’m sorry” comes into play. . . . Not just my kids being forced to say it to me, but me saying it to them as well. 

You are a fool as a parent if you think that you never let your temper get the best of you, or minimize something that is very important to your child, and even get so busy that you ignore their concerns altogether. I’m not perfect, and my girls know that. 

So when I act like I’m never in the wrong as their dad, yet they know I am not perfect, I lose credibility with them. I’m not afraid to tell them, “I’m sorry, I over-reacted,” or “I should have listened to you instead of cutting you off.

My relationship with my girls could take a turn for the worse tomorrow. I don’t have all the answers. . . Sometimes I feel like I don’t have any. But as long as I’m alive, I will not hold back on giving my girls bear hugs and I’m sorrys.

I Miss My Baby Girls

I so miss my little baby girls. I mean, I don’t love my grown up girls any less than I loved my baby girls, but I can’t help but feel sad when I think how that time in their lives is gone forever.

I miss helping put on their shoes and arguing about having another cookie. I want to be able to pick them up and toss them up in the air to make them squeal like I used to do. I even miss cleaning up their messes . . . . . Actually, I don’t have to miss cleaning up their messes very much, they are sixteen and eighteen and I’m still cleaning up their messes.

But then we will spend time with a friend or family member who has young children. I get dizzy watching them chase their children around trying to keep them from getting into, getting on, swallowing, and breaking things. I can’t imagine how I ever had the energy to make it through this age with my own two children.

It leaves me with an odd combination of both sadness and relief…

Mean People Still Suck.

I just don’t understand people who have a mean nature. It always seemed to me that it takes more energy to be mean than it does to be nice. Yet, still I see meanness everywhere. I see it in people I know. I see it on the news. And I really see meanness all over the internet. In fact, mean people having internet is like picker bushes getting Miracle Grow.

I know that this is heading in the direction of one of those fluffy, naive posts that usually appear under a picture of adorable kittens with smiley faces inserted after each paragraph, but it happens to be the thought of the day so you are stuck with it.

To me, it just seems so much easier to be nice. It’s not only easier, but it has to be more fulfilling than being mean. Being nice doesn’t cost anything. Being nice is . . . . . Nice!

I’m not trying to say I never get angry. I can get extremely angry . . . . Especially at mean people. 

And I’m not saying I’m never mischievous. I love aggravating my wife and daughters for my own amusement, but this usually involves nothing more sinister than a well timed fart, or pretending like I’m going to cook one of my daughters guinea pigs for dinner.

But beyond that, I put forth a fair bit of effort to be a nice person . . . . and I’m very happy and content with being nice.