Half the population can become a father, but not everyone has what it takes to be a great dad.
If you’ve read the fine print, there's more to being a dad than parenting skills alone. Great dads wear many hats. Here's a list of my favorite dad jobs, just to name a few:
1. Container Torque Technician: Whether it's hand size, innate ability, or testosterone, dads are skilled at and therefore tasked with opening jars that will not open. Know the tricks: hit from the bottom, bang on the lid edges, run under hot water, and twist. Your feat of strength will awe and amaze.
2. Land Navigation Expert: Dads are the designated family driver, and with this comes the expectation that we will get from point A to point B. Thanks to the invention of GPS, many car arguments are avoided about whether dear dad needs to pull over and ask directions. Though keep in mind (Dad, are you listening?) that this need not become a contest to see how fast we can get there, or how few restroom stops we can make!
3. Christmas Elf: Assembling toys on Christmas Eve is a rite of passage for dads. The challenge: to use all the parts and stickers and finish before 5 a.m. Instructions optional. (If you're really good, you remember to buy batteries before the big day, too!)
4. Pest Control Tech: When "Da-ad!" was shrilled in our house, a bug was usually the cause of the drama. A dad's job is to quickly rid the terror with many awful legs that has invaded our home. (To our family's defense, we grew up in eastern North Carolina, where the Palmetto bugs [a.k.a.Roaches of Unusual Size] were very scary and unavoidable.)
5. Undertaker: Our family went through our fair share of mice, fish, and hamsters. Dad was called in to deal with the dear departed, and when we inquired where he buried them, he'd respond, "Don't worry about it." I still don't know where Frisky the hamster was laid to rest. I'm thinking the landfill.
6. Human Encyclopedia: Far more than moms, dads are expected to know everything. If you don't know, bluff. You don't want to blow your credibility early on. I don't think my dad has ever said, "I don't know." In fact, as I've gotten older, I've called him out on making up answers, and he just chuckles.
7. Bio-hazard Clean-up: This does not bode well for father's with weak stomachs. From my experience as a kid, and as a mom, when a kid gets sick in the middle of the night, the mom is on kid-duty: comforting, changing clothes, and providing medical attention, while dad is left to deal with the, well, mess. In our house, this also included pet messes. Whenever we heard the first crack of thunder, we knew our dog was doing the deed on the upstairs hallway carpet, and my poor dad would then be heard cleaning, gagging, and probably cursing the dog shortly after.
8. Fixer/ Tool Collector: 1) Dads must fix things, so be sure to always have crazy glue and duct tape on hand and 2) you must collect tools, because of all the fixing, and we just need things to get you for Father's Day.
9. Coffee Drinker: If not coffee, please dedicate yourself to drink some kind of hot beverage, because there will be a child dying to give you a "#1 Dad" mug at some point in your life. If you do not have a morning beverage, then the timetable for when your kids are allowed to pounce on you starts the moment you open your eyes Saturday morning. The phrase, "after I finish my coffee" comes in handy at these times.
10. Human Jungle Gym: I gasped in horror as I watched my husband throw my six month old baby girl in the air for the first time. Then a squeal of delight came from her, followed by a giant grin, and my authority over the matter was null and void. My children now turn into zoo monkeys when my husband walks through the door every evening. They jump, climb, and swing from his arms, all while he's thumbing through the mail, and checking his Blackberry.
Additional duties as required: Dads fix. They tickle. They make pancake breakfasts. Dads make (and laugh at) loud bodily noises. They play sports. They watch sports. They shout at the TV. Dads coach, cheer, console, and celebrate. They tutor. They mentor. They make us feel safe. Dads are superheroes, princes, and the kings of our worlds. Dads know when we're ready to fly, and always still there when we need them.
Often, dads do what they do without much complaint, or thanks. So today, join me in saying, “You’re doing a great job!"
Happy Father's Day to all the dads in our lives!
This post was originally published on June 19, 2011.