Robert Kirby - Salt Lake Tribune
Therapy and serious introspection are fine. So are certain drugs and even religion.
But it takes being a parent to find out just how really screwed up you are.
This is what makes Father's Day so special. The kids gather to celebrate you
as their dad. Then they sit around and trash you reminiscing about the good
"Remember when Dad's pants fell off while he was trying to spank us?"
"What about the time he got into a fight with the Girl Scouts and the
"Don't forget when he burned his hair off - after telling us not to play
Moments like these make me wonder whether I was actually present for the parenting
of my children. All I remember is a home filled with so much love that it took
a second and third mortgage to pay for it.
Not surprising. The closest any of us come to pre-parenthood training is having
a guinea pig, and then the law doesn't care if a dog eats it.
Nothing prepares people for the moment when they hold their very own moldable
The really stupid ones gaze down at their baby with unconditional love and
think, "Everything is going to be perfect."
The smarter ones look at the kid and think, "If I leave now, I can be
in South America by morning." No way are they ready for this responsibility.
Fortunately, the good ones stay and do the best job they can with the material
they have, including an innocent baby biologically wired to become a rock musician.
Whether in church, a family seminar or even just a group of parents talking,
you can always tell who has children and exactly what age their kids are. The
younger the children the more concrete (naive and ridiculous) the parental theories
about raising them.
Older parents come away from these meetings and roar with laughter.
Parents with kids under the age of 5 think that parenting is a game of dot-to-dot.
Connect all the dots - Sunday school, quality time, no sugar after 5 p.m., homework
first - and you get a picture perfect child.
Excuse me while I laugh until my eyeballs pop. Been there. Tried that. Went
Perform all those wonderparent things and you still may end up with a homicidal
chimpanzee for a son or a daughter married to a Democrat.
At half a century old and the father of three out-of-the-house daughters, I
know exactly one thing about parenting: what worked raising me did not work
raising my daughters.
For example, corporal punishment worked for my father. Trust me, there are
people alive today only because I was afraid of a spanking when I got home.
I knew I was a poor father as soon as I became a grandfather. The things that
were once important are not even on my radar anymore.
When our oldest daughter was involved in an accident while driving our car,
the first thing I wanted to know was the condition of my granddaughter. Thirty
years ago I would have been shooting sparks out my ears over the ding in the
I must have done something right. Even if it was to make fun of me, they still
thought enough of their old man to show up for Father's Day.
Photo Copyright Getty ImagesCopyright Scripps Howard News Service 2003