But I’ve watched enough Disney movies featuring princesses with daddy issues to have a good idea that, to paraphrase G.I. Joe, “being there is half the battle.”
I’m also keenly aware of my flaws. I lack patience and am easily frustrated. I’m terrible at playing school. I can’t prepare especially healthy meals or at least ones that don’t require removing a wrapper of some sort. My advice tends to be short on insight (“Then you just push him right back” or “because boys are stupid.”)
I’m particularly ill-equipped to raise girls because I can’t make a “high” ponytail. Shopping for bras and bikinis suddenly transforms me into a Salem Witch Trial-era Puritan and talking about boyfriends — be they real or imaginary — makes me itch for my baseball bat like it was a phantom limb. And dense knowledge of the various sub-genres of metal — death, doom, black, thrash, grindcore, emo and hair — is utterly lost on my blonde brood who prefer the musical stylings of Bieber and Wiz Khalifa.
Still, I love my girls, even when they make me crazy.
For example: When Jellybean has me play “Family” in a busy Taco Bell, cradling a huge pink polar bear named Sweetie, whom I told is crying because she’s afraid of balloons and spicy taco sauce. Or when The Diva’s room gets so messy I’m getting calls from the producers of “Hoarders” and “Swamp People” looking for a new impassable land to conquer.
But what I hope makes me a good father is time. I like just being with my girls, doing next to nothing.
I like the little moments of going on a walk with Jellybean when she insists on holding Ringo’s leash while eating a popsicle, explaining to me why she’s now refusing to eat macaroni and cheese (“It makes a funny sound when I chew.”)
I love when The Diva and her boyfriend (whom I pretty much ignore) watch horror movies with me on Sundays when I serve one of the three meals I can cook — beef stroganoff, pork chops or spaghetti. For a couple of hours, I don’t have to really be a parent, nagging her about getting a summer job or pumping her for information on where she goes and who she’s with when she leaves. For two hours, there’s no pressure and it’s not too awkward — assuming I’ve properly vetted the movie for nude scenes.
I’m happy she’s there and that’s good enough.
That’s why I’m so excited about this Father’s Day, because I’m gonna spend time with my girls — hokey as that sounds. We’re going bowling. We’re gonna bowl a few games, try not to be sore losers, eat some gnarly snack bar food and make fun of eachother in those hideous bowling shoes.
And assuming I can refrain from singing “We’re gonna rock/we’re gonna roll/we’re gonna bop/we’re gonna bowl” from “Grease II” we’ll avoid too many awkward, embarrassing moments.
Memories are built on the foundation of the mundane. Some of my fondest memories with my dad are going to comic book stores or his refusal to buy me all four KISS dolls the one and only time in my entire life I saw them at a flea market ($400 in 1989 dollars was pretty steep). And I hope the same will be true with my girls.
So we’re going bowling. Let’s see Disney make a movie out of that.
Contact Brett Buckner at firstname.lastname@example.org.