When I moved to Seattle in 1994 I rented an apartment across the street from the University of Washington and less than a block away from the student bookstore. I was working my first job out of college and didn’t have the money to purchase many books. On my days off I’d walk down the back stairs of my apartment and take a hard right around the corner to the bookstore where I’d gather a stack of books. The stack was mostly filled with computer and programming books but I enjoyed reading about art and history as well. Some days I’d spend 10 hours sitting on the floor reading book after book.
But there’s one type of book I’ve never read. I’ve never been interested in reading books on parenting. Not even the Dr. Spock book it seems like every parents reads before their first child arrives.
I used to feel guilty about having no desire to read about how someone else feels I should raise my children. Yet I read books that make me a better manager. Maybe even a few articles here and there that make me a slightly improved husband. But nothing directly geared towards parenting.
Given that New Year’s resolutions are just around the corner maybe I should head on down to the Barnes and Noble (the one with a Starbucks inside) and check out the latest batch of parenting books. I’m sure there’s something from Stephen Covey and Dr. Phil. And a few thousand more from experts may not have children of their own.
So with that, if I can find a parenting book that answers the following questions, I’ll buy it.
- How many hours of Scooby Doo in a week is appropriate for a 5 year old.
- How to remove a plain M&M from the nostril.
- How to teach your children to Tivo without deleting Season Passes to Desperate Housewives, The Hills, and The Office.
- How to keep your kids from belching (among other sounds) during the quiet times at church.
- How to put shoes on the right feet.
- How to flush the toilet!
- How to help your kids find their inside voices.
- How to keep from backwashing Cheerios into dad’s Diet Coke.
- How to sleep past 6 am on the weekends.
- How to beat your kids at any Nintendo game and live to gloat about it.
We’ve only been raising kids for a few years and have many more to go. So far they seem fine. Half the battle is keeping track of them. Maybe we’ve been blessed with good children. Or maybe they have an awesome mom that makes up for many of the father’s faults. It’s probably a combination of many influences.
One day I’ll be able look back and see how each of them turned out. I’m sure I’ll be able to see what worked and what didn’t. Both Kim and I believe in teaching our children correct principles but allowing them the freedom to learn and grow and make choices that occasionally bring consequences.
As I tucked the kids into bed tonight each of them gave me a hug and kiss to my forehead. When I got to Anna she said, “You’re the best dad in the whole world”. I smiled and was feeling pretty good about myself as I began to leave. Until she added, “But I’m going to ask Santa for a new dad if you don’t let us decorate the tree tomorrow”.
Is there a book for that?