I have three kids, and in the ten years that I’ve been a dad, I’ve realized that fatherhood is actually a collection of multiple jobs. Many of them I’m good at, but most of them I’m just winging it. Here are a few examples.
Therapist: I regularly psychoanalyze my children because they do crazy shit. The first time my son ran into the front yard naked, I wondered if he was on the road to sexual deviance. The day my wife caught our two oldest looking at their butt holes in the bathroom, I asked them a lot of questions in an attempt to decide if this was somehow normal, or a sign of future shameful internet notoriety. I am not qualified to say if my children are crazy. But for some reason I feel like I’m constantly questioning their sanity and trying to decide what steps need to be taken in order to keep them out of jail.
Chef: I can make a box of Mac & Cheese without looking at the directions. I can do the same with a bowl of cereal. That’s about it. And yet, I have three kids under eight-years-old who are often dependent on me to cook for them. As a parent I am supposed to provide them with fresh healthy options, but I’m not qualified to do that, so I look for boxes that list vitamins and look easy to make, and hope my kids don’t one day develop obesity or cancer.
Artist: A few years ago I was using sidewalk chalk in the driveway with my three-year-old daughter. She asked me to draw a lion. She looked up at me with big blue eyes. I thought about the last thing I drew. It was in high school. I was at a scout camp and I drew a vagina on my tent mate’s forehead. I thought it was hilarious until other scouters told me it looked like a fortune cookie. Long story short, I can’t draw. Horrible at it. But how do I say no to my three-year-old who assumed that I could do anything? I didn’t want to ruin that. So I drew a circle, with some wavy lines around it. I gave it a cone like snout and some oval eyes. I wrote, “growl” in a bubble above its head. Then I looked down at it with satisfaction. “Check it out, kiddo. I drew you a lion.” Norah looked down at it, eyes big, and said. “That’s a crappy lion.” I have since been asked to draw all kinds of things, butterflies, family portraits, clouds, the sun, Doc McStuffins … every one of them has sucked, but it’s my job as a father to give it my best.
Entertainer: I was never trained on how to entertain children. I am not a clown. I don’t juggle. And yet, I regularly have to keep kids happy. It started with silly voices and peekaboo, and has turned into accepting dares and dance competitions. Sometimes, when I don’t feel like being funny, I sprawl out on the ground and let them climb on me. Kids love that.
Commander: I brush teeth, make food, give baths, wipe butts… As much as I like to pretend like I’m in charge, at the end of the day I’m totally my children’s bitch. I tell them to clean up their room, and somehow I get distracted and end up watching Bill Nye the Science Guy in an attempt to explain why beans are the musical fruit. Then I wind up “helping to clean their room” which basically means I clean their room.
Taxi Driver: A few weeks ago my five-year-old said, “Daddy! You drive like a bad guy!” At first I was offended, but the more I think about it, I’m pretty sure she was right. This doesn’t mean I’m a badass or anything. It just means I drive bad. The problem is I get lost all the time, which leads to frustration, and erratic driving. I probably shouldn’t have a license.
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Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play dress, and an angry baby girl. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His work has been featured in Good Morning America, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, Fast Company, and elsewhere. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.