From Boyhood to Fatherhood
I am not ashamed to admit I am a stay-at-home dad. There are many people who try to make me feel inferior because I am the primary caretaker for my 4 year-old son. I think, when people try to make me feel inferior they are trying to make me find shame in my son. I can not find shame in being a father or loving my son. Fatherhood is a responsibility and one that I enjoy. In fact, looking back on my life I know that I have prepared for fatherhood for a long time.
Toy cars teach about fatherhood!
As I was growing up, I was a normal boy (if you can define normal). However, I did love my toy car and trucks. I remember the excitement of going to T.G.&.Y or Sears and shopping for a toy car. I would study the shelves until I found the perfect car that would become my treasure.
The love of toy cars was intensified when my mother would take me to a yard sale. I found many of my favorite toy trucks at an outdoor yard sale. Now of course this was the 1970′s and the trucks were all metal, and probably lead painted. The “future” fear of lead based products did not stop me from buying them. I wanted to play with them not suck on them.
I never realized it at the time, but my love of toy cars helped make me a better dad and prepared me for fatherhood. All the years I spent comparing toy car models on shelves gave me an “eye” for detail. When my son was still using his stroller, I would look at other strollers and make comparisons. I would compare colors, tires and accessories on our stroller to other strollers. I knew exactly which other dads we could take in a stroller race (and we did too).
Getting dirty isn’t always a bad thing.
As a young boy, one of my good friends was “mud” (yes, I am talking about dirt plus water). It was fun digging a hole and filling it with water. In my mind, the hole would become a vast lake and the location of a massive war campaign. Tanks, jeeps, and army men would position themselves around the lake. As the battle ensued, the casualties of war would find themselves being thrown into the lake. (It was the best way to dispose of the bodies).
The battle could rage on for hours but always ended when an adult called me to come to supper. I then would “retrieve” all my lost army men from the muddy water. I would go in the house with mud up to my elbows and an arm full of dirty toys. My mother was never happy when I played this game. In my mind, the toys needed to be cleaned, and I cleaned them in the kitchen sink (the sink needed plunged a lot).
Retrieving and cleaning dirty toys as a child helped me to understand the importance of cleaning up after playing. My son enjoys getting dirty. He also enjoys hiding from me after he becomes muddy. I have to look for him and then take him to the kitchen sink. I take pride in finding him quickly and efficiently. Occasionally, I even use the sprayer from the sink on him and not the toys!
Do these match?
One of my little idiosyncrasies from childhood was collecting things. The main problem I had with collecting things was I had no rhyme or reason behind what I collected. During the summer months, I would spend most of my time outdoors collecting firefly’s, bugs, leaves, rocks or any other odd-shaped items I might discover.
The fun began when I took my collection indoors. One of my goals was to try to place each item in categories (all rocks with rocks). I would empty my pockets and compare all the strange items I had found. However, I did not always have complete success. When I had an item that did not fit into any group I ignored it and made it fit into a group anyway.
Learning about categories and collecting items has helped me during fatherhood. As a stay-at-home dad, one of my responsibilities is helping my son get dressed in the morning. In a child’s closet, it’s surprising how many items do not seem to fit in any categories or have any “proper” matches. My wife has told me more than once that I have picked out clothes for my son that are mismatched (and sometimes have put his shoes on the wrong feet).
Learning About Fatherhood
Many people believe that women prepare for motherhood from an early age. Personally, I think both sexes are equally ready for parenthood. If women looked back on their lives, as moms they could find a lot of silly things to make comparisons about too. I know as a young boy I did not dream about being a dad, but the things I learned from boyhood certainly have not hurt me in learning about fatherhood.
What do you think? Can you think of any silly things you did as a child that helped you as a parent? Or that is just a silly comparison? Do you think we are ever ready for parenting? Or do we just get lucky? Tell me more in the comments!
Read my last post here 5 Ways To Be A Child Again
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Tags: being a father
, car models
, stay-at-home dad
, toy cars
, toy trucks
, yard sale