Regrets of a Not-So-Fun Dad
I worry that my son, Max, wishes he had a fun dad — one of those guys who actually encourages his kids to ride a shopping cart down a highway on-ramp. "Remember those hand signals I showed you!"
Fun dads start food fights. They dress up in superhero outfits. They suggest their kids do stunts with skateboards or experiment with explosives ... occasionally at the same time.
I'm not a fun dad. In terms of child entertainment value, I rank right up there with potted plants. In fact, children are generally less amused by me than by a collection of palm fronds. "Cris seems nice, but that fern has more personality."
I am much more comfortable with child work than child play. When my son, Max, wakes up in the middle of the night, I'll get him back to sleep. I am happy to do his laundry and change the sheets on his bed. I can handle the clean-up duties when he has a bowel accident that rivals even the largest volcanic eruptions.
However, if you ask me to play with kids outside for a few minutes, I experience the kind of panic normally only seen in people asked to defuse nuclear warheads.
Fun dads don't have those issues. Push a fun dad outside and within minutes he has every child in the neighborhood participating in a series of games that makes the Olympics seem like an insurance seminar. Give a fun dad some tape and a kazoo and suddenly your children are part of an elaborate musical involving fully formed sets, costume changes, and a soundtrack that is charting on iTunes. By contrast, you could give me a special effects team and the entire cast of Cirque du Soleil and I would have no idea how to entertain kids.
Sadly, I am one of the few options Max has for home amusement. "It's a Saturday and it is beautiful outside. Let's sit on the couch for an extended period of time."
As a result, Max might one day ask my wife to exchange me for a fully functioning father. "Mom, did you keep the receipt?"
Or, when he grows up, he will work very hard to be a fun dad. "Since there are two of you in the shopping cart, once you hit the highway, pull into the carpool lane."
When not working or spending time with his wife and son, Cris enjoys writing as a form of therapy. A collection of the columns he wrote before moving to Cary are included in his book, Staying Crazy to Keep From Going Insane.