My friend Paige took this photo of me with my boys in 2015. Pretty much sums it up.
It’s my sixth Father’s Day. I’ve been in the game long enough that I no longer worry about being a “good” dad, I just want to be a decent one, or at least not a bad one. (Michael Chabon: “The handy thing about being a father is that the historic standard is so pitifully low.”) A few years ago I made myself this mug:
I wish I had a bunch of wisdom saved up about being a Decent Enough Dad, but it’s just so damned hard, I feel like I know next to nothing. (I find being a decent dad to be way, way, way harder than being a decent writer or an artist. Part of the problem is that you won’t really know if you did a decent job until a decade or so passes.)
I’m thinking this morning of this page from Tibor Kalman’s monograph, Perverse Optimist:
He dedicated the book to his children, “who have made me change my mind about everything.” He wrote, of he and his wife Maira’s decision to have them:
We chose to increase the complexity of our lives by having children. The greatest benefit of having those children has been to look at the world through their eyes and to understand their level of curiosity and to learn things the way they learn things.
Here are a handful of things I think I know about being a dad:
1. Work, children, or a social life. You may pick two at a time. (Nobody wants to hear this.)
2. When you add a member to your family, more than anything else, you increase complexity.
4. Copying is how we learn, so “teaching,” or telling what children they should be doing is far less powerful than doing things you want them to do and behaving in ways you want them to emulate.
5. Your kids will not only teach you more than you’ll teach them, if you do it right, you might even learn how to learn again.
6. “The Pram in the Hall” stuff is garbage. A bad equation. By all means, use your children as an excuse to get out of petty stuff you don’t want to do, but don’t you dare blame them for not doing The Thing.
7. If you let them, they will inspire the hell out of you.
See? I couldn’t even make it to ten. Maybe in a few more years…
PS. I see, after pressing PUBLISH, that I failed to type the word “love” in this post. It’s the one-word summary of this whole freaking enterprise.