They say you can't know your future unless you know your past. But this is merely for those who might be prone to repeating the mistakes of their forefathers (see: former U.S. Presidents with the name George Bush). For the rest of us, it's just nice to know where we come from. Show me a kid that doesn't enjoy hearing his parents talk about the day of his birth, and I'll show you a teenager mortified by the fact that his parents are actually showing the video to his new girlfriend. Otherwise, most kids like to hear about the events that brought them in to this world- as well as any subsequent events that bring a big smile to dad's face as he recounts them for family and friends, ad nauseum.
"How Do You Write Women So Well?"
Let's face it: dads are great story tellers; moms, not so much. Dads are funny. Moms think they are, but always seem to just embarrass the crap out of their kids. But, when it comes to chronicling the lives of their children, dads tend to prefer the spoken word, and that's a shame. The fact is, dad's don't write in diaries (unless they choose to call them "blogs"), because, quite simply put, that's just not cool. Well, actually, it would be cool, except for an entire industry (we call them publishers) who cater all their efforts to moms, creating the most useless "baby journals" known to, well, man.
Sure, it's cute and cuddly for moms to collect their child's first lock of hair, their hospital bracelet, and a thousand pictures of them suckling at her breast, but you try giving that to your son at his high school graduation as a gift (thinking that he'll thank you for it). It's just NOT cool. So, whether moms want to admit it or not, some things require a man's touch.
LESSON ONE: JOURNAL WRITING DOES NOT MAKE YOU A SISSY
It is said there are certain things "real men" will not do: 1) Get a pedicure, 2) Eat quiche, and 3) Write in a journal. Well, if real men are afraid of having their feet caressed by hot young asian women, whipped eggs, and putting their best material on paper, I'll just stand over here with the "sissies." At least we can wear sandals without sports socks. Because, let's get real here, writing in a journal isn't much different than writing an email. You simply choose a subject ("The day of your child's birth"), write a few short body paragraphs with some key, humorous details (time, birth weight, how hot the nurses were on a scale from one to ten), and you date it. Hell, you don't ever have to touch a pen to paper. Just print the email, stick it in a binder, and forget about it for 18 years... ya, pansy.
LESSON TWO: WRITE ABOUT EVENTS; YOUR FEELINGS WILL SHOW THROUGH
"Oh, no. I can't write that," you say, "I'm going to come off like a sappy, wimpy, wuss." What, like bawling in front of your whole family the day your baby was born didn't clue anybody in to that already? You're a crier, accept it, and let's move on. If it makes you feel any better, no one is asking you to talk about your feelings in an uncomfortable way (i.e. "My lip quivered as I held you for the very first time. I couldn't stop trembling. I was overcome with feelings of uphoria"). All we're asking you to do is give the facts as you see them; tell your side of the story, and let your kid figure out what you were feeling from what you wrote. We're not all freakin' Cyrano Debergerac, nor should we want to be. Leave the flowery imagery for your wife. Just the facts man. Just the facts. We all know you're not going to be comfortable talking about the sappy stuff, so take it slow. Just tell a story. The rest will follow.
LESSON THREE: DON'T BE SO FREAKIN' SERIOUS ABOUT IT
I'm going to let you in on a little secret that none of the baby journal publishers, or the moms that buy them, fill them in, and put their most heartfelt memories on the page seem to recognize... babies don't read baby journals... adults do! That's right, so while your wife is writing to a six-month-old who is going to be well on her way to resenting her by the time she reads what she has to say, you might want to take the approach that your job (as a dad) is to merely pass on information that an adult child can actually use. Feel free to put in some life lessons, some humorous anecdotes and all that other funny sh@# that just escapes moms as they try fill out their own versions of this most important of history lessons. You want your child to know where they come from and who they are- not how many teeth they lost when they were three, and how much the tooth fairy gave them. You have carte blanche to tell them about all the stupid sh@# you did as a child, so they can actually learn from your mistakes (just don't let them see it until well after the fact so they can't call you a hypocrite).
This is as much about teaching your child about you, their dad, as it is about you telling them about their own lives. So talk as if you're telling a story to a close friend, and don't bull shit just to make yourself look good. Your child already has an image of you as an authority figure. Let them actually see you as the fallible human being that you are.
LESSON FOUR: WRITE SOMETHING EVERY WEEK
Whether you want to or not, write a weekly note in your "book" and tell your child how much you enjoy being their dad. Sure, it may not always be true, but even when your kid loses the big game in the final seconds and the whole town hates both his and your guts, someone has to give him something postive to look back on so he may learn from the experience. Think of it as a weekly highlight reel or top ten events in the life of your child. They'll appreciate it, and so will you (especially when you're writing down all the funny sh@# your little ones say).
LESSON FIVE: JUST DO IT
Look. Your kid's going to want to know what you, as a parent, thinks of him one day. We all know your wife is preparing her book on the subject. Why aren't you preparing yours? Every child deserves to know what his dad really thinks about him- are you really going to let your wife give YOUR side of the story? What if you were to die tomorrow- what would your kid know about you then? Stories other family members relate about you? You kid deserves to know all that they can about the man they call "Dad", and second-hand knowledge just won't cut it in their greatest time of need. So, just do it. Do it for your kids and do it for yourself. You'll both learn a great deal from it one day.
Here's some links to get you started :
I wish I had any, but seeing as there isn't a single book on the market today that I would buy for myself to help me write to MY child, I have nothing for you. But, I'm on it. I hope to have such a book created by the end of the year. Mom can corner the sentimental market on parenting. It's all hers. I'm bringing Daddy back- and he's bringing his sense of humor, and a manly sense of self with him.
Some times, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself...