It Takes a (Silly) Man to Be a Dad

As any father, I have more than a few faults when it comes to raising my child. I don’t read to him as often as I should (which is, sadly, a staggering understatement), I’m terrible at thinking of artistic activities, and I’m more than a little impatient. But I’m very good at being silly.

I remember being out with my friends in high school, and pulling alongside a car full of businessmen. Somehow we got their attention, and started shaking our fists and scowling, gesturing toward the stoplight and revving our engine. Seeing a carfull of awkward, teenage band geeks, the guy riding shotgun understood the irony. He hopped out, and knelt in the middle of the street in a perfect starting position for the 100-meter dash.

Working one wet, slushy night at our local grocery store, I was pushing a cart through the parking lot. I don’t remember his name, but a fellow ‘bag-boy’ was also returning a cart after having helped a woman with her groceries. This man was in his sixties, and worked as hard as the rest of us in our teens. Slipping across the blacktop, he caught my eye, winked, and asked, ‘Wanna drag?’ We didn’t, but the offer was all that mattered.

Somewhere there is a picture of me and my step-father, crawling along the floor and wearing underwear on our heads. We were diving for sharks.

There are plenty of responsible people in the world. Work will always get done, bills will always be paid, proper, social behavior will always be maintained. Surprisingly, I find myself to be one of these people, and Kelly even more so. I have no doubt that Ian will develop a fine work ethic, and grow to be a polite, considerate young man.

There are far, far fewer people who are willing to stain a business suit just to have a laugh. While you’re out today, take a few minutes to watch the crowd. People walking, rushing, scowling, talking on cell phones. People ignoring each other and not smiling. Not my son, thank you very much.

Which is why Kelly and I dance with Ian in our booth at Applebee’s, or why we play pirates in the mall’s playground, or why my entire family loudly exclaims to the waitress at Stella’s that ‘We like pickles!’ I’m very thankful that everyone with a significant role in my son’s life is willing to make a complete and utter fool of themselves for Ian’s sake.

I think being silly with my son is a vital part of my role as a father. Apparently, the fine folks with the Ad Council agree.

(Thanks, Pete!)

Leave a Reply