There is a book that many parents-to-be pick up before they have their first child; it’s called “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”
The book is chalk full of pertinent information and provides guidelines for parents who are about to bring a youngster into the world.
One of my sportswriting colleagues in the office, Gabriel Rizk, is about to become a new father. In just a few weeks, he and his wife, Kay, will welcome a new baby boy. The birth will thrust Gabriel into the challenging, rewarding and often headache-inducing realm of fatherhood.
Being a father of two — my daughter Shannon will be 10 next month and my son Grant is 7 — I have learned my share during my near-decade of parenthood. I have gone though many trials and tribulations with my kids (although many tell me the real challenges begin when they become teenagers — can’t wait for that).
With that knowledge, I have learned things that you just can’t find in a book. So, it is my obligation to all the new fathers, like Gabriel, to let them know what to really expect from your children. Just call it my little Father’s Day gift.
With boys, never underestimate their ability to get dirty. I have found dirt on parts of my son Grant that I can’t even fathom how it got there.
The other night when I was tucking Grant into bed, I gave him a kiss and tapped him on his head to tell him good night. But when I touched his pillow I discovered a mound of sand. Upon further investigation, I saw a trickle coming from his head, and his scalp was imbedded with sand particles. When I asked him how in the world did the sand get into his hair, he proudly answered, “When I’m in the sandbox and I throw sand in the air, it falls on my head. But it usually falls out during the day.”
Well, I guess that explains everything.
Boys are also harder on everything. When we buy Shannon a new pair of shoes, for example, she takes care of them. She will wipe off stains when they get dirty and will make sure they are presentable. Grant is just the opposite. He can go through a new pair of shoes in two months. And if the shoelaces are dragging on the ground getting frayed and worn, there’s no way he’s going to stop playing to do something silly like tie his shoelaces.
Fathers have to also be up on the latest trends, especially when it comes to the coolest toys. Your kids will beg you for the latest hot thing, because all their friends have it. But be aware, as fast as these trends come, they can become blasé just as quickly.
Recently, the big trend was these rubber-band things called Silly Bands. They are colored rubber bands that come in various shapes. All the kids had to have them. Shannon and Grant went wild for them whenever they saw the items in a store. We gave in to the pressure, and two of them collected hundreds of the worthless things.
You know where those bands are now? In boxes in a closet. Maybe I can use them to wrap some old newspapers.
Whether it’s Pokemon and Byakugan, Littlest Pet Shop and Puppies in My Pocket, or Zu Zu Pets and Webkins, there are enough trends to keep parents on their toes.
As far as sports are concerned, don’t expect your little ones to always follow in your footsteps when it comes to your favorite teams.
A few months ago Grant came home and declared he was now a Boston Celtics fan. In a household of die-hard Lakers followers, that was almost like going to a PETA meeting and proclaiming your love for prime rib. I calmly told Grant that he wouldn’t get fed until he changed his allegiance. Luckily, that took only a few weeks. OK, a few days.
If he comes home and tells me he’s now a Dodgers fan, then he’s getting thrown out.
For the fathers who are having girls, I have some sound advice: Invest as much money as you can in stock of the Justice clothing store. That’s because you will be helping to raise the company’s profits with the amount of bank you will spend there. Once girls get about 4 or 5, that store is like a magnet.
Not only does Justice sell cute stuffed toys and other trendy items, but it stocks clothes in vibrant neon colors with peace signs and irresistible pictures of cuddly animals. All the things that draw the trend-conscious girls in.
There is one last thing to remember: Girls need a father’s protection. No matter how old they get, they need their dad to look over them.
I can’t even imagine Shannon dating boys or becoming romantically involved with someone. I’m still holding out hope that she will instead be the prettiest nun in the convent. A father can dream, can’t he?
Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers.