When you read parenting books, and for that matter social media posts, it's all the good stuff: My kid got into Harvard, I coached my kid in the playoffs, look at us having fun on the beach… Now those are all well and good but that's the highlight reel. There are also the dad fails.
It happens -- you lose your cool, give your kids some bad advice, or maybe while coaching you hit a kid in the head with a ball. I feel like Father's Day is a good time to celebrate the dad fails I've had and try to improve on them next year, and maybe other parents can learn from my mistakes (or at least laugh a little).
The truth is I know little about soccer. I thought I could help the kids get a little more athletic and get in some bonding time with my oldest.
The first and only time I busted out the agility equipment, I quickly learned that 6- and 7-yeard-olds are not quite ready for ladder drills -- or hurdles, for that matter. Since I have this stuff at home, and my kids use it, I figured who doesn't have an agility ladder at home? Kids were tripping and falling over the place with confused looks on their faces. After that fail, we turned to warm-up drills like shuffling, skipping and high knees.
It also took me two practices to learn this lesson: kick softly. In my first practice, I kicked one kid in the head. Luckily, no injury and no real tears, but it did not look good. The next practice, I thought I was kicking lighter, but I bounced a ball off a kid's chest and almost knocked him over. Talk about feeling awful. Again, no one was injured, but major dad fail.
Watching first and second graders play flag football is slightly painful. There are no real plays, the flags are, for some reason, hard to remove and the games are 40-50 minutes long. I have bonded with some parents at these games, and I have encouraged my kid, but I've also cared too much. My son's team was in the playoffs and they were a game away from the big dance. He dropped a pass and came to the sidelines almost in tears. "Dad I was held. Coach didn't call it."
There was maybe incidental contact, but he dropped the ball. I was not so encouraging, "Just catch the ball. Don't be a baby. Catch the ball." Seconds later a parent turns to me and says, "Good parenting." The funniest thing? He was serious.
These games, they don't matter. Who remembers the football championship game they played at age 7? The only acceptable thing to say: "I loved watching you out there. You'll get them next time."
The next few weeks after that game, we played catch almost every night. And that was not my doing.
Kids hurt themselves daily. I can't tell you how many times my boys have tripped, jumped off the bed awkwardly (this is never encouraged), fell off a bike, or hit the other one too hard with a lightsaber.
With the regularity of incidents, you become numb. Fast forward to a judo tournament.
"Dad I hurt my knee."
Like I'm a doctor, "Does it hurt to walk?"
"But it hurts."
"I'll get you some ice after the match."
The next two days he limped everywhere. Every hitch in his step was a painful reminder of my subpar parenting. Sometimes they do really hurt themselves, and if you miss it, don't feel bad. Ice cream and a doctor's visit cures most things (unless you're kid is lactose intolerant).
Any parent that does not admit to yelling at their kids is probably lying. My only takeaway here is try harder not to get angry when:
- They take forever to put on their shoes
- Spill an entire shake because they rested it on the couch
- Leave their homework at school
- Lose their third winter hat of the season
- Throw a ball at your head (when you're not looking)
- Refuse to try their veggies (we have a taste rule; you can spit it out but you have to try it)
- Run naked in circles when there's company…
An unexpected hug, a compliment on your cookies, or even when they tell you, "this tastes like garbage," parenting has been amazing. If I wasn't so sleep deprived, I think I'd be an even better parent.