This has been turning around in my head lately. During the holidays when I’m not working and I’m more approachable than other times I get a lot of requests for skills that I think are unique to fatherhood. This is not meant to slight Mothers… Mothers certainly have skills Dads don’t, and some of these are shared.
1. Battery-lid remover: Being able to remove those tiny screws with a paper-clip, fingernail clipper and/or anything else that happens to be laying about on your desk when the request is submitted. Lids without screws take some weird combinations of pushing, pulling and sliding and it usually takes a Dad to figure out the right combination.
2. Knot remover: Being able to remove a knot in anything, ever.
3. Peace Negotiator: Negotiating peace between siblings can rival the challenges faced in bringing peace to the Middle East. The Middle East needs a Dad.
4. Making It Work / Toy Repair: If something is not working, chances are a Dad can make it work. This could be a toy, electronic equipment, a computer game, or a household appliance. This goes along with toy repair, because short of ‘broken’, a Dad can repair just about any toy. And even some ‘broken’ ones if he has the right glue, tape, or time.
5. Prognosticator of Pain: Once the phrase "You’re going to hurt yourself" is uttered by a father (or mother, they share this skill) there is an 92% chance that between 25 and 75 seconds later the child will be hurt. The 8% that the parents are wrong are the reasons why children don’t ever listen to this statement, and are usually followed with the child saying, "See!"
6. Widget Identification: When an oddly shaped doodad is sitting in the middle of the floor in danger of getting chewed by dogs a Dad can look at it and identify exactly what game, toy, or device that it comes from within 25 seconds.
7. Finder: A Dad can find just about anything, other than his own keys. I admit I was stumped at this one last week when Cameron shot a Nerf dart and it evaporated. Maybe this one should have a percentage chance, like a Dad has a 80% chance of finding something that the child can’t locate. Moms have a 95% chance.
8. Caveat Emptor Dictionary / Thesaurus / Encyclopedia: Dad’s can spell, define, or explain just about anything. Of course whether the spelling, definition or explanation is the REAL explanation is up to the child to determine. Favorite example of this is a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon where Calvin asks his dad how they determine the load weight of bridges. "They drive bigger and bigger trucks across until it collapses, and then rebuild it," Calvin’s Dad explains. Calvin looks back at the bridge in awe, and Calvin’s Mom’s eyes narrow at Calvin’s Dad and she says, "If you don’t know, just say you don’t know." Dads cannot ever, ever, EVER admit ignorance.
9. Witness: This is my favorite one. "Hey Dad! Look at this!" The standard response is, "Whoa! Nice!" Works every time.
10. Kid Juggler / Jungle Gym: This one is becoming less and less of a favorite as the kids get bigger. When kids are little picking them up and twirling them and setting them back down is great fun. They still think that Dads can do this even after they’ve doubled or tripled in size, though. "Do it again, Daddy!" used to be a favorite thing for me to hear. Not so much any more. Maybe if I was in better shape.
Skills that are noticeably missing:
1. Navigator: Dads get lost. They can get found again, but they get lost. Success in navigation for a Dad is not HOW they got there, but THAT they got there. This may go along with #8.
2. Personal Hygiene Enforcer: Brush your teeth! Comb your hair! You’re wearing that? These statements rarely come from a Dad. If they do it’s because Mom just said them 30 seconds ago and Dad wants to score points with Mom.
3. Directions Reader: Directions are for wimps. ‘Nuff said.