5) Sporty Stuff
Active kids are happy kids, and every dad wants happy kids, if only because it means mummy won’t come and stand between him and his plasma. To achieve these active, happy kids a dad needs to know what his kids are interested in. This might be totally different to what his kids are good at, what he wants them to be good at or what he can afford them to be good at. Listening is the key.
Recently two of my girls decided they wanted to do Ireland dancing. Unfortunately it turns out I enrolled them in Highland dancing by mistake. The good news is so far they haven’t noticed.
6) Car Smarts
Growing up we all drove jalopies. My theory was dads back then gave their kid a crappy first car so they themselves would have something fun to do on weekends. You see, inevitably these death traps would stop moving, meaning dads and their mates could come out of the house with arms full of spanners to help get them going again, stopping briefly on the way home to grab a six pack.
Well, this is one area where I shine because I know exactly what to do when a car breaks down – I call the local breakdown service, RACQ. Over the years I’ve called these fine fellows for everything from complete engine failure to faulty wipers. Without any doubt it is the best value $80 a year I ever spend. Usually the complete engine failure is a lack of this thing called fuel although I once had the breakdown people, and then a shop full of mechanics, baffled for days over why my car wouldn’t start. They eventually ordered a $2000 new computer chip before realizing I’d been trying to start the car with the wrong key.
I don’t have the answers, but I do have Google. For everything else, there’s Wikipedia.
I’ve heard the odd parent describe doing homework with their child as a great bonding experience. This has never been my experience. Sometimes I just want my two hours back so I can watch Top Gear. And by sometimes I mean always.
8) Other Kid’s Names
A father is supposed to be able to name their kids’ best friends. I don’t know why, but I know this is true because I once saw it in a movie. Well, I fail.
When Tracey and I recently played this game I named the school kids my lot least got along with because, well, they were the names in all the stories they were telling me. Well I’ve done some research now and if we ever play this game again I will go with the following: Jacob, Michael, Joshua, Matthew & Daniel for the boys and Emily, Madison, Emma, Olivia & Hannah for the girls.
These are the most popular names for the last decade so I figure they give me the best odds for success. Seriously, the identities of my kids’ friends are generally as foreign to me as a Chinese menu in Beijing. But then I have seven kids so there is potentially a cast of thousands.
Where young kids are involved dads need to keep the menu simple because here’s the thing – little kids quite often don’t like chilli or overly spicy meals. Don’t surprise the wife by making the family dinner and expect her to be thrilled if it’s your famous Green Chicken Curry, because all she’ll see is she still has to make dinner for the kids.
If you want to cook dinner for your family, fellow fathers, you can’t go far wrong by firing up the BBQ. FYI, if you do manage to feed your family with a minimum of female assistance the chances of you having to listen out for the patter of little feet approaching your unlocked bedroom door later in the evening are greatly improved.
10) When Mummy Needs a Sleep In
The big one. Huddle round fellas. Some tell-tale signs to watch out for are a darkening around the eyes, a higher pitch from her usual speaking voice, glaring, snapping, yelling, hitting, slapping, crying for no apparent reason and generally looking at you like you’re a moron even when you know you’re being hell cute. You must learn these subtle signs because it is unlikely you will simply be asked.
Letting mum sleep in will generally involve more than just mustering the kids in front of the telly and then falling asleep on the couch. The moment your guard is down the little sprogs will inevitably sneak beneath your snores and burst into your bedroom, waking their mum up with demands of breakfast. If this happens all points earned with good intentions are out the window. For the safety of all you need to get you and your children out of the house immediately. Take the mobile – she’ll call you when you’re allowed to come home.