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Archive for September 18th, 2012

I don’t just sit around all day writing about hobby loss rules and S corporation reasonable compensation, you know. There’s more to my life than taxes. I’m also the proud father of a three-year old boy and a four-month old daughter, and at the risk of coming off as arrogant, I’m one kick-ass dad. I happily change the nastiest of diapers.  I’ll willingly put The Backyardigans on the TV even when there’s football to be watched.  I patiently feed my daughter pears and sweet potatoes and the occasional Slim Jim.  Cliff Huxtable ain’t got s**t on me.

Sure, sometimes I’m not as “attentive” as I could be or as “nurturing” as I should be, and yes, from time to time I may “go missing from the house for days on end with no explanation,” but the numbers don’t lie: Three years + zero toes chewed off by rodents + only one near drowning = STELLAR PARENTING.

The truth is, raising a kid isn’t all that hard. Of course, most of the complaining you hear traditionally comes from the martyr’s mother’s side, so perhaps it’s just easier for us dads.

Either way, if you want to be a kick-ass dad like me, you’re going to need a little help. And because the handy FAQ format has been so well received as a means to understanding challenging concepts such as carried interests and Section 83(b) elections, I figure it’s also the best way to communicate my particular brand of parenting advice.

Take the appropriate notes, and perhaps your kids will end up half as cool as mine.

Q: Your son Ryan seems like a down to earth, low maintenance, likeable kid. Why is that?

A: Because we named him Ryan.

There’s long been a theory that if you name your daughter Candy or Bambi she’ll be destined for a career on the stripper pole. Well, the underlying concept holds equally true for a boy. Your son’s name is more than just the collection of letters you’ll sign when you liquidate his college savings to pay off your gambling debts; it sets the tone for his entire life.

We chose Ryan because it’s simply solid; a name that will beget a steady, drama-free life filled with moderate levels of hard-earned achievement. As parents, that’s really all you can hope for.

To give you an example of our thought process, Lauren and I briefly flirted with the idea of naming the boy A.J., until we realized that this would sentence him to a life defined by high school lacrosse, pledging a college fraternity, and a raging coke habit in his early twenties. And nobody wants that.

So if you’re having a son, choose the name wisely. Try to avoid today’s sissified “flavor of the month” choices, unless of course, you’d like your son to grow up and front a mildly popular boy band. Instead, go with something that will stand the test of time and set your kid up for a lifetime of success. While I recommend Ryan, the following would also be suitable:

Michael
Kevin
Eric
Hunk Golden
Sir Hotbod Handsomeface
Dr. Lawyer InvestmentBanker

Q: I’ve heard having a baby will destroy your social life, and this is making me a bit leery to start a family. Is this accurate?

A: Depends. If poker night, happy hour, and Sunday morning tailgates are still staples of your weekly routine, then yes, prepare for a rude awakening.

This is precisely why I encourage people in their twenties to hold off on having kids for a while. At that age, you’re supposed to be doing this type of silly stuff. Bring a baby into this world, and if you’ve got even a minimal sense of responsibility, you’ll be shutting your youthful hijinks down prematurely. Inevitably, you’ll wind up resenting your kid, your spouse, or both when you’re stuck reading Curious George while your buddies are six bars deep into the St. Paddy’s Day pub crawl. That can’t end well.

Q: If you knew before your kids were born what you know now, what would you have done differently?

A: This one’s easy. I wouldn’t have waited so long to start watching Nick Jr. Children’s’ programming is highly underrated. The lessons to be learned are not solely for the benefit of the young.

Thanks to Dora the Explorer, I can now understand seven words on Telemundo’s soccer highlights. Dino Dan reminds us that while an encyclopedic knowledge of dinosaurs may make you a hero in grade school, wear that vest and carry that field journal to junior high, and you’re just asking to be shoved inside a locker. And the Fresh Beat Band has taught me the appropriate way to deal with the adversity of getting my tap shoes stuck in a tree hours before my big performance. These are real life solutions to real life problems.

Q: Have you set any life goals for your kids?

A: You mean aside from these? Yes, I have, and they start and end with this: Don’t be an a**hole. I stole this from my brother Dave, who once told me, “I couldn’t care less if some day my son tells me he’s gay. I just really, really hope he doesn’t grow up to be an a**shole.” This is brilliant.

It’s tempting to gauge our success as parents by whether our child meets any number of predetermined — and in the grand scheme of things, meaningless — standards we establish, most of which are reflections of our own shortcomings. We get so wrapped up in whether little Johnny becomes a baseball star, or a high-priced attorney, or a city-wide karate champion, we tend to forget that none of these things matter much if in the process, he also becomes a world-class a**hole.

As my wife puts it, we just really hope our son and daughter are good kids. Nice, generous, and above all, respectful.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone is insufferable at some point in their life; whether it manifests itself in how we handle a tough day at work or an incorrect order at McDonalds. We all have it in us. Our hope for our kids is that they exhibit this personality trait only upon isolated moments of weakness or frustration, and not let it become their defining characteristic.

You might see this goal as rather unquantifiable, but you’d be wrong. A**holes abound in our society and are easily identifiable to the trained eye.

As a guideline, the following people are a**holes:

  • Steff McKee
  • Kobe Bryant
  • Dick Chaney
  • Kobra Kai
  • Duke graduates 1892-present

So long as my kids don’t end up wedged between two of these names on some list thirty years from now, I’ll consider their lives a complete success.

Q: Your daughter is impossibly beautiful. Why haven’t you pursued a modeling career for her?

A: Strangely, she doesn’t seem particularly interested in it. For some reason, she appears to be perfectly content to just lie around the house all day, eating, sleeping and pooping her pants to her heart’s content. I guess she’s just not as driven by the prospect of 15 minutes of fame as other parents babies.

Q: They say any guy can make a baby, but it takes a real man to raise a child. Is this true?

A: Absolutely not. The easy way out is to stick around and help raise the child you’ve made. I know a guy who ran off with a 23-year old co-worker while his wife was pregnant with their second kid. Now, that takes guts.

There you have it; everything you need to know about being a kick-ass dad. If you have any additional questions regarding child rearing, feel free to email me please consult your local library.

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