What has happened to parenthood?
I am referring to an article I just read, “Five Things Every Dad Should Teach His Son.” If this list is truely the best we can do to raise our sons to be good men, we are in deep trouble.
Number one on the list: Skipping stones. That’s right. When was the last time we asked our candidates for president, mayor, CEO, minister or police officer to prove he (or she) could skip a stone? Never. Because skipping stones is game children play … and most often teach each other. According to the article, there are two basic ingredients to good stone-skipping–the rock and the throw. Well, duh. But seriously. As a child (a girl-child, no less), skipping stones was an amusing past time for the first five minutes for our summer vacation. After that, the excitement tended to wane. Then we went for a swim. Maybe dad should put swimming on his list instead.
Like the first “thing,” the second thing also lacks any future application unless your son grows up to be one of those people saving bird habitates. Yes, the second thing a Dad should teach his son is how to climb a tree. I’m not making this up. And again we get the sort of wisdom children usually figure out for themselves or teach each other: “Novices should select a tree in which they can reach up and grasp a branch while still standing on the ground.” Well, jeepers, who knew? Then there’s this: “Most important: Make sure any and every branch will be able to support your weight.” Let me get my notebook and pen and write that down. Seriously, if my dad had gathered his brood around a tree and proceeded to instruct us in the fine art of tree-climbing, we’d have thought he’d lost his mind. And we would have been right.
Number three is acually practical: “How to Do Laundry.” As with the other four ”things,” this point comes with instructions that begin with: “Wash whites in hot water …” Or you can take a page from my parent’s playbook and drop your child off at college with a suitcase full of clean clothes and a box of detergent. That works, too.
Number four takes us back to the whimsical and mostly inexplicable: “How to Scale a Fence.” If you need your father to explain this to you … well, I’d rather not say what I’m thinking. At any rate, the writer manages to break fence-climbing down to an intricate dance of hand and feet placements, the proper flexing of shoulder muscles and the perfect leverage as the child leaps to the other side. I’m imaging the writer standing by the fence in a smoking jacket, pipe perched between his teeth as his little one gazes worshipfully up at Dad’s face soaking in the nuances of bolting over a fence.
The fifth and last thing every father should teach his son is how to cook. Or you can take a page from my playbook and drop your child off at college with a George Forman grill. Seriously, you are supposed to tell your son to remember two things: “Salt and pepper are your best friends.” And: “Cook to taste.” This reminds me of a time when I was in my 20s, and a friend decided to cook spaghetti, but she didn’t realize you needed to add water to the pot when you cooked the noodles. Not sure if our writer-dad’s “two things to remember” would have saved that dinner.
While there is certainly nothing wrong with teaching your son to skip a stone, etc., if I were to put together a list of things every dad should teach his son, none of these “thing” would make the top twenty. I think dads should teach their sons to be God-fearing, respectful of other people, honest, conscientous workers, engaged citizens of their nation and the world, good dads, good friends, responsible people and happy. Just saying.
Read about a good man with all the qualities on my list in Angel Without Wings, my lastest contemporary romance.