Dads: when in doubt, dote on your kids

Jim has awakened to his very first Father’s Day. He was one of my son’s teachers and is now a friend. I haven’t seen him with his weeks-old daughter, but from the way he talks about her, I know he is the kind of daddy that Father’s Day was meant to celebrate.
I haven’t yet met Jim’s wife, but she was one of the unfortunates who was viciously nauseous for the entire nine months. I lit several candles in the hopes that she finds this second level of motherhood far more pleasant than the first. But based on the bags under Jim’s eyes, the newcomer is a perfect, precious, but predictable babe, allowing her parents very little shut eye.
He gets a special Father’s Day shout out because he was extremely solicitous of his ill wife throughout the rocky gestation and because the first thing he said about his daughter was how cute she was. Not how exhausted he was or how glad he was those miserable nine months were over. Only that she was so cute. That is 20-20 Daddy-vision.
I still get a chuckle when my buddy Erin talks about how her husband wasn’t really sure he wanted children. They married young and had lots of time to think about it — too much time, I suspect. Having children is best done on something of an impulse. The more you know, the more terrifying it seems.
Fortunately, Erin knew exactly what she wanted and her husband turned out to be the proudest father you could ever meet. You might even say doting. I am a big fan of the doting dad. Everyone needs someone who dotes on them. That often leaves mom to be the heavy, but she can get away with it because she also makes chocolate chip cookies and fudge icing. You can buy a lot of forgiveness with a good chocolate chip cookie.
Every now and then I get a shocking glimpse of just how doted upon I was by my dad. A girlfriend of my son’s had her car overheat. When she called home to report the mishap, she said, “My dad yelled at me.” I was astonished. Overheating is a penny ante teenage car problem. In my youth, I set my car on fire, spun off the freeway and broke down halfway to Los Angeles. I always called my dad. He raised his voice about a lot of things, but never, ever once to me about cars. He just quietly came to my rescue — Let that be a lesson to you dads and dads-to-be. When in doubt, dote.
At the very least, it should guarantee you some very cool Father’s Days hosted by an adoring child. The alternative? Ugly ties.

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