Some Things Our Kids Don’t Need to Know About Us

30 07 2008

Ever wish you could answer something in a completely honest way? Maybe when you’ve filled out a job application or been asked questions by someone on a first date? There are certain situations when complete honesty is probably a mistake (unless you are a true saint and have nothing to cover up).

I’m in one of those situations currently. I was given a journal/book called A Father’s Legacy (J. Countryman Publishing) by a family member. The idea is a cool one: Answer the questions about your own life in the book and then give it to your child/children so they can have a lasting memoir to keep. It will require some work (thanks a million, Luke), but I acknowledge this is a good idea.

Another good idea would be to utilize a modicum of care in how I answer some of these questions. This book is meant for my child (or children if more come along in the future) and could very easily get passed down to their children and so on and so on. It will be important to be truthful, of course. BUT, it may be wise to keep some true things about my past to myself. How fun would it be, though, to answer some of the questions in any way that I wanted to answer them? Luckily, I have this blog space to do just that! I can save my more “fatherly” answers for the book.

From the CHILDHOOD section of the book:

“Did you enjoy reading as a boy?” My book answer will of course praise the merits of reading and refer to the joys of having The Monster at the End of this Book read to me by my mother and enjoying Charlotte’s Web on my own. This is all true, but let’s get to the nitty gritty. I will never forget reading the sex advice column in the Playboy magazine that I stole when I was about 12. (I was not the type to steal, and other than the magazine, I think I stole a piece of hard candy once, and that was about the extent of my pilfering. I stole the magazine because, at least back then, they didn’t allow 12-year-olds to buy Playboy, and Suzanne Somers was in that particular edition. I had seen Three’s Company, and I couldn’t resist.) Back to the sex advice. What red-blooded boy at that age would not be mesmerized, awed and possibly a bit overwhelmed reading advice about extra-marital affairs or understanding female orgasms? I had the feeling that I was partway in heaven and partway in hell hiding in the garage reading those pages. Plus Suzanne Somers was hot. So, I can honestly say, yes I enjoyed reading as a boy.

From the FAMILY LIFE section of the book:

“In what ways are you like your father?” The book answer will include that I am funny and determined and that I believe in God, which are all things that my dad role modeled. He was a good man. These things are true, but like any man, my late father had his own issues. Unfortunately, I may have inherited one or two or twenty of them. So what’s the real answer? I can be as stubborn as an ass, just like him. I don’t like to lose any argument and therefore can be an infuriating person. I tend to scoff at the stupid things people do which can make me a bit judgmental. I’m guessing that my kids, when old enough to understand the book, will know these things about their dad without me having to write them down! Speaking of similarities between myself and my dad, let me mention one way in which I am not similar. Why can’t I hit a golf ball the way my dad could? I don’t enjoy the game, but I probably would if I could master the course the way he did.

From the EDUCATION section:

“What did you learn in high school?” I’m sure my book answer will touch on many things regarding “responsibility” and “self-reliance” blah, blah, blah. But here, my honest answer is this: I quickly learned there was a perfect spot on the first floor of the gym where, at lunch time, one could stand and be positioned directly below the railing on the 2nd floor of the gym where cute girls often gathered to socialize and lean against said rail. Why was this significant? Keep in mind, I attended a Catholic high school where many of the girls wore those plaid, uniform skirts. That’s right, in just the right spot, a perverted young male could see up those skirts on the 2nd floor. In my defense (not that there really is one), I was certainly not the only male aware of this, and looking back, I’m pretty sure some of the girls knew too. This was vital information and made lunch time so much more fun. (Maybe actually going up to the girls and talking to them would have been fun as well, but this seemed preposterous and impossible for me during my first couple of years).

“Is there Something You Wish You Would Have Done in High School?” Yes. Keri and Christine…preferably at the same time.

From the LOVE AND MARRIAGE section:

“What qualities first attracted you to your wife?” This is the easiest question to answer both truthfully and in book-appropriate fashion. We worked together. I was impressed with my wife’s intelligence, motivation to succeed, class and humor right off the bat. It’s difficult not to be impressed with her, and if you’ve read her blog you already know what I mean. I may leave out two things from my book answer, though. I still remember those two things from our days working together as though they happened just yesterday. One is a particular time I came across her in a narrow hallway while she was making copies. She smiled and said “hi” (we weren’t dating yet). She was wearing a skirt, and as I passed closely by her (remember it was narrow), I was stunned by how beautiful her legs looked. The other time was when a discussion broke out amongst several co-workers about working out, playing sports, flexibility, etc. My future wife decided to demonstrate her flexibility by bending completely over and easily touching her toes. I believe this happened on a casual dress day when she was wearing jeans. The incident affected me in ways I really couldn’t describe here. (Really.)

“What do you think is most important in maintaining a healthy marriage?” The book answer will include important things like trust and commitment. My real answer here? Being willing to help her with blog wording and titles and recording sporting events to watch later when she’s gone to bed instead of trying to watch them when she’s awake.

From the PARENTING section:

“What has been the greatest challenge of being a father?” My three-year-old daughter is great and is a nearly constant source of smiles and happiness. That is very, very true. However, if I were to answer this question with nothing but the truth, I would have to say it’s a challenge to remember those smiling times and to keep my cool when she decides it’s time to climb something inappropriate in a store (say, a display of breakable items). It’s usually at this time when she is very good at calling bluffs. When you have a cart full of items that you really need to purchase (or at least think that you do) and you warn her that you’re going to take her immediately home and give her a time out if she doesn’t listen, she knows that you’re not really going to do that. That’s when she looks you straight in the eye and defiantly pronounces, “I want to go home. I want a time out.” This eventually leads to an all-out screaming, public fit in which she does the kid universal turn-her-whole-body-into-deadweight-jelly when you try to pick her up off the floor while you get disapproving glances from non-parents. I get a little angry just thinking about it. Probably time to move on to the next question.

From the CELEBRATIONS section:

“Do you remember particularly special birthday gifts you received?” Hey, I got some cool stuff as a kid, like the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots or the Miner 2049er game for my Atari system. I’ll probably put those down in the book. However, I can’t help but also remember some of the items of clothing that my mother, bless her heart, made for me. She was great at crafty things like that, and it helped out the family financially whenever she made clothes instead of buying them. The problem is; they weren’t always the coolest styles. You can see one of the outfits in a horrific picture buried deep in this post.

From the LIFE EVENTS section:

“Has there been a political event in your lifetime that made a strong impression on you?” Yes, the Watergate scandal. I could write in the book how I learned that politicians are not always looking out for us and how the media serves as a sort of watchdog for us. In reality, though, what I really remember about that time was how mad I was that it was the ONLY THING ON TV ALL DAY FOR WHAT SEEMED LIKE AN ETERNITY. There was no cable at that time. We had the three networks and PBS. I needed my cartoons, man! All of the shows I cared about were preempted for the Watergate hearings every time I turned on a tv. At least it made me get out and play more (I was already the type of kid who liked to play outside, but it was nice to have a little mindless tv time now and then.) What kid would rather see the face of John Dean instead of Bugs Bunny or Batman? Exactly.

From the INSPIRATION section:

“Who were your role models when you were young?” I’m going to have to write about teachers and my parents in the book, and they certainly were role models. However, the truth would also include Fonzie, rockers like the dudes from Night Ranger or the Scorpions, and maybe, since I loved scary movies, someone like Jason Voorhees. I think I’ll leave these out of the book so I don’t make my kids think that I’m a leather-jacket wearing druggie who sticks axes in people. Yeah, I’ll stick with the parents/teachers answer.

The more I think about my Playboy-stealing, scary-movie loving, skirt-looking-up, Batman-watching days, the more I wonder if I really should be parenting anyone. Then again, my daughter seems to be doing amazingly well in spite of my shortcomings. Have to give my wife credit there. Maybe this whole journal/book idea to give to your kids was someone’s idea of a sick joke.

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17 responses

30 07 2008
Sarah

I absolutely love that your daughter will call your bluffs. I know I did that to my mom a couple of times, and I try really hard not to laugh when I hear my girlfriend threatening to leave a resturaunt with her two year old when he starts screaming (blood curdling horror movie scream) for no reason. He knows she won’t pick him up and leave, but he keeps screaming and she keeps threatening.

31 07 2008
Taoist Biker

I think we need the Playboy-stealing, scary-movie-loving, skirt-looking-up, Batman-watching days (and notice I used the word “we” on purpose). They give us perspective when our kids do something goofily, stupidly, or downright deliberately wrong. Which, as you note, they can, have, and will do.

In your case, it’ll also be what to be on guard for in about 12 years. My sympathies, my friend.

That does remind me, though, that somewhere I have a similar book for my son that was given to me not long after he was born. Between the fact that it called for a lot of “what do you remember about me when I was a toddler?” stuff that I obviously didn’t know then, and the fact that he was a colicky baby and he just about drove his mother and I insane for the first three months, I put it aside and didn’t fill it out then. I should look for it now.

31 07 2008
nathaliewithanh

As a daughter, I always knew my father as the dad, never as the man. I wish I could get the answers from a book like the one you mention. I also wish he would have been completely truthful if he had taken the time and effort to leave such a testimonial behind him.
None of the things you mention are so horrible that they could not end up in that book. They give you dimension as a man. Who has a teacher as a role model when growing up? Your kid is going to think you were such a lam-ass nerd of a kid. Be truthful. Your daughter will get so much more out of it. Just wait until she is in her twenties or thirties before giving it to her. She won’t appreciate it before anyway…

31 07 2008
Stacey

I understand the need to keep things “appropriate,” but be careful not to get boring. Besides, what’s wrong with a little honesty?

I vote for including this one: “Is there Something You Wish You Would Have Done in High School?” Yes. Keri and Christine…preferably at the same time.

31 07 2008
Luke

While this book will eventually end up in your daughter’s hands, I will be the one re-collecting them upon their completion (one was given to each of my aunts, uncles, and my dad – six in all). Consider it my own personal investigation into the sick minds that comprise my family.

I remember Grandpa trying to get me into golf once, and being frustrated by my awfulness (and the fact that I lifted my leg and swung the club like a baseball bat). I think he was so good that he simply didn’t know how to even approach teaching someone with no ability whatsoever. I’ve never had the urge to try golf since. I mention this because I went to the driving range last week as part of a party that was much more excited about it than I was. By the time we left, I was actually a bit excited myself – I understood the coaching received a little bit, and I actually hit several balls (consecutively, I might add) in the air towards the intended direction. It’s true that it’s those couple good shots that keep golfers coming back, because I can’t wait to go again.

31 07 2008
Paperspoons

Ha! You are so hilarious! My boyfriend just found a Playboy his son hid. Only he hid it in the living room desk underneath a Vogue! There aren’t any women living in the house. That tipped him off. So he asked me if it was my magazine. “Vogue? I don’t read Vogue.” I said, “Maybe he was hot for the girl on the cover. Who is on the cover?” “Keira Knightley.” I said, “You’re right. That is puzzling.”

1 08 2008
Morocco

I really like this post! Maybe when your daughter gets older you can elaborate more on some of your answers. You are really hilarious!

1 08 2008
ExtraordinaryMommy

This post is right on~ I love it…. I have a friend who gave me the exact same journal (for moms obviously) and I’ve battled with the same thing. Looks like you have made ALOT more progress on the journal that I have 🙂

1 08 2008
Pammy Girl

Of course adults should censor certain things they say / write but I agree when it’s fascinating to REALLY discover who the parents is underneath the title of MOM or DAD. Just last year, my 65 year-old father told me about this time he and his older brother got stoned. Now my dad’s not perfect but I was a little taken back. My dad snoked pot??? Weird. I certainly couldn’t have handled that information when I was a kid but now it makes him seem more human.

P.S. Was Suzanne Somers worth it? I just can’t seem to get that one.

1 08 2008
kweenmama

Your daughter is going to appreciate that book more than you know. By all means, include your “skeletons” they will enhance it. Won’t it be fun to watch her reaction when she is older?

Thanks for visiting my blog! I’m glad you did because it led me to yours.

2 08 2008
Kym

I’m with the tell the whole truth to your daughter crowd (and what great stories they are–I’m still grinning) just keep the book until she is in her twenties and she’ll think you are the coolest dad ever.

My perfect and sweet mother told me a story that I’ll never forget about how she said, “No” to her father and ran around the house so he couldn’t catch her (of course, he just waited until she ran all the way around right back into him) and my perfect and sweet grandmother told about the time she told the teacher that if he spanked her brother she was going to pull down his pants and spank him.

They both seemed so much more human and fun after I learned these stories. (In fact, I could have learned them earlier and enjoyed them just as much. I doubt I would have turned into a backsassing, teacher spanking hoodlum but, if I had, at least I would have had good stories for my kids!)

3 08 2008
pamajama

NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO! You absolutely CANNOT leave those details out of the book! They’re the best part of you!

Now, I’m not saying to let her read it when she’s 10 or 15 or even 21, but definitely by 30 . . . Everything about it was fantastic!

I wouldn’t go into any more detail about Suzanne or attributes beyond your wife’s legs – lol – but the way you worded it was completely vanilla & perfect!

7 08 2008
romi41

““Is there Something You Wish You Would Have Done in High School?” Yes. Keri and Christine…preferably at the same time.”

hahahahaha…you sir, are a crack-up!!! 🙂

8 08 2008
dobeman

I’m with Stacey, honesty is Waaay more fun. Who wants to read something that sounds more like the crap we threw at our kids when we were still alive?

I mean, I like my dad so much more now that he’s not trying to be this upright, uptight deacon of the church all the time. I like saying, “Want a beer?” far more than I ever did saying, “Can I have $5?”

Plus, if you’re gone, who cares what you said? And maybe…just maybe it’ll be cool enough for them to write a book about and make a killing!

So, think about it that way.

8 08 2008
Dead Charming

While the whole post was brilliant, I have to agree with Romi…Keri and Christine utterly KILLED as an answer.

I also think that someday your kid(s) will enjoy looking over this little list, just as it is, and “know” their dad a little bit better. I know I enjoyed it.

21 08 2008
kdtsva

This is hysterical… and totally something I would do too. (Give and receive the book) It is kind of sick, but as far as a biography goes, it beats any book Barnes and Noble could sell. lol

21 09 2008
sheila

How funny! My husband and I were just talking the other day about how well our kids are turning out….and we decided it’s because we’ve lied to them all their lives when they asked stuff like: Did you ever smoke pot? Did you ever drink? lol.
Now I’m like you and I blog about them. Which is alittle different because you know, everything that I do now embarrasses them…so this blog should put them over the edge! Oh well….paybacks right?

Nice blog, and remember….whatever you do at this age, they tend to forget about…unless of course their teacher asks them to share a story at storytime. Good luck!

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