How to Be a Dad

How to Be a Dad

I Know You Are, But What Am I?

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This dude could bench press you and your whole family.

Charlie tries to look like a skateboarderExhibit A: Skateboarder? Nope. I’m trying to hide my braces, glasses and history of Dungeons & Dragons.

I’m not the coolest guy around and I’m certainly not the most athletic. I grew up playing a few sports in the San Francisco area, but not well and although I had my shining moments maybe a handful of times, after high school I’d pretty much abandoned watching/participating in group sports. Sure, there was an errant football game here, a quick ping pong game there, but the entire ritual of watching professional sports was removed from my vocabulary as I plowed toward a career in acting and music.

So, when I got the news that we were having a boy, an inevitable conversation arrived with my wife: what if Finn isn’t a nerd, a musician or an artist of some kind? What if he’s not a geek, but a Greek Adonis who wants to win every trophy he can find?

The conversation went as well as it could. Maybe my brother would have a heavier influence in sports-talk and I would have to get back into the sporting swing of things again so I could at least throw a nicer spiral on a football or reform my pitch into less flailing technique. But in the back of my mind, I was mildly terrified.

Finn shows his affection
Exhibit B: Finn’s Etiquette. This is how jocks hug each other.

And then, Finn was born. Finn weighed in at around 9 pounds and 21 inches at birth, even a week early. As he has grown these past 18 months, the dude has been ‘off the chart’ tall and a meaty weight. He now looks like he’s ready for a rugby scrum while eating the drumstick of a live animal and drinking a Guinness. Irish much?


Operation Hipster Brainwash: Get Finn while he’s young. Museum visits, concerts and movies galore. Harry Potter will be a mandatory read every night. He will learn to love anything creative. He could even turn out to be a renaissance man. Martial arts might be okay too. But the keyword being ARTS.


33 Responses to “I Know You Are, But What Am I?”

  1. M Violet says:

    Operation Hipster Brainwash – LOL!!! I didn’t realize being cultured meant you were a hipster. Please consider the addition of fencing and sushi rolling to Finn’s repertoire.

  2. Pete says:

    Don’t forget a healthy dose of Alton Brown and Jaime Oliver.

  3. Get him one of those play kitchens. (OK I really want one for me, hence the obsession) My husband has already decided our son is going to be a dirt biker. Help.

  4. My husband and I could have written a similar post. We are theatre geeks. We watch Doctor Who. We keep our son busy with museum visits and art openings, but now that we live in Pittsburgh I am not sure if he will escape the world of sports.

  5. DrisOne78 says:

    As long as you dont let him become a pretentious, self-involved, 10-speed fixing, non-lens glasses wearing, winter hat in the summer wearing, “I saw that band 6 months ago” proclaiming, “I dont call them movies, I refer to them as films” informing, artisan cheese eating douchebag who only eats locally farmed food & shops urban outfitters on their macbook pro w/daddy’s amex card, he’ll be a-okay!

    Sorry, can u tell I hate hipsters/scenesters?

  6. Avara says:

    I know as Finn’s mom that I should be against the brainwashing of my child…but in this regard, I’m all for it.

  7. Matt says:

    Well, I can relate to your story very much, although my story isn’t acting but computers. My son is now 12 years old, and never was the athletic type, so he was headed towards the geek life, as it appeared, but we always encouraged him to be himself, and to pursue things that interested him, and try to direct him away from the bad things in life. Now he has interests in skateboarding, and martial arts, and excels in both sports. And despite his smaller size compared to his peers, he is not looked as a geek, and seems to be very well adjusted in his school, with his peers, and all the students there. So my advice is just let them be themselves, don’t force anything on them, but introduce different things in there life to give them a wide variety of paths to choose from to make choices for themselves, and just keep them on the right path once they make those choices with encouragement, and support. You don’t have to know anything about it, they will love teaching you something.

    • charlie says:

      Sounds good to me. I would love a well-rounded kid. Physical prowess and intelligence are both important but hopefully not forsaking one for the other. Unless you’re in the circus, in which case, one should be more important than the other.

  8. Tami says:

    Don’t sweat it! I’ve coached a lot of boys sports teams and am far more athletic than some of the dads. Just trust in the coach and figure out the basic rules. You’ll be his number one fan and everything will fall into place no problem. Besides, you’ve got a few years to figure these things out. ; )

  9. Paulo says:

    I feel like you, too, Charlie. I even went to a fine arts high school! See, the way I figure it, I’ll take JJ to the park, the zoo, to museums, to cafés. I’ll teach him about art, about music, about cooking and how to pair a wine with a meat. That’s all good man stuff to know. He’ll be fine. Right?

  10. Stephanie G says:

    You guys need “like” and “love” buttons hahaha! Love it! I’m actually scared that Braelyns going to be more of a tomboy! Shes such a little daredevil already! And she won’t let me paint her nails or do her hair :-(…

  11. Liza@Blahggy says:

    That is NOT you in that photo!! WHAT??!! You almost look like a bigger nerd than I was…but that’s almost impossible.

  12. Lisa S. says:

    I swear I saw the Heisman Trophy light up in Paul’s eyes when we got the news at the 6mo sonogram that the baby was a boy. Griffin was born just like Griffin: 21″ and 8.13lbs and is a big boy! But I get to have my two cents: He learned how to say and recognize “Hay Pata” before he was three!!!

  13. Lisa S. says:

    Ha! I meant Griffin was born just like Finn (their names are similar enough)!

  14. Gerry says:

    My solution is simple.
    Don’t let your ego get in the way of your child’s growth. If you can’t do the sports thing,let your brother do it and don’t be concerned about the kid liking your brother more than you. Who knows what a child can be or do if given a variety of choices and life experiences.

  15. Mom101 says:

    For what it’s worth, I have the same fear about my daughters. I’d be thrilled to raise two soccer stars, but I’m not complaining that what they really love to do is draw.


  16. mo says:

    I can’t wait to see what my kids turn out to be like. We definitely have a nerd in the making with our 4.5 year old, he’s all about electronics and the mechanics of things. Our second one seems much more the athlete, huge like your son, one solid guy. I think, as long as they turn out to be sweet and loving guys and they don’t hate me, I’m good.

  17. Shilpa says:

    you see, my biggest fear is that my girl turns into a pink princess… ick! She was 9lb 6 when she was born and has continued to grow that way (1yr old and already half my height!), so I can comfort myself with the thought that she won’t be a delicate little flower.

    There’s also the consolation that with all the toys that surround her, she’s most attracted to my laptop, so hopefully she’ll be at least a little bit nerdy…

    who am I kidding? whatever she does I’ll be insanely proud of her. But I may have to be a little disapproving if she ends up ruling the planet with an iron fist…

  18. Jeremy says:

    Hey, I was a jock through high school, basketball mvp etc… Worked construction, now I build furniture and love talks by Neil Degrasse Tyson. Ol Finn there will have a journey. With good parents he’ll be a great caring jock or a great caring drama god. Then he’ll be something else.

  19. Evonne says:

    One nerdy, artisty, mathsy, sciency kid most definately…the other is just cheeky as all heck at this stage. Only time will tell I guess 🙂 …

  20. Good luck. I’ve been singing to E ever since she was in my womb, have taken her to musicals, enrolled her in ballet and piano lessons and even co-direct the choir she’s been “singing” in since she was 4 years old. At nearly 9, the girl is tone deaf and falls over while standing still.

    They are who they are. Namely, not us.

  21. Adam says:

    A renaissance man, he needs to be capable physically, mentally and spiritually.

    Do the kid a favor and put him into Boxing, Fine Arts and teach him differential religions….if not for the spiritual aspect, then for the massive sociological impact religion has had on the world.

    Teach practical outdoor skills and communication, personal responsibility and civics.

    Do him a favor and don’t let him become a man/child like most of the current 20 somethings.

    Raise a man.

  22. Chris says:

    I agree with Gerry, you can’t try to turn your kids into something they are not, and beleive me your kids will see that when you try to do that. Take it from me, don’t force it. Do introduce them to different stuff and see what sticks though, and don’t forget the value of doing stuff with your kids where you are uncomfortable but growing as a person. They won’t see it as you are uncomfortable, but they will see you in triumph as overcoming your fears.

  23. Carla says:

    I have one introverted bookworm girlie who is really smart but hates school/house work, one athletic, cheerleader (shudder) type who wants to be popular when she grows up, or a baseball player, either one, and one little dude who is all boy with his balls and trucks and trains and daredevil stuff, but he loves to play dress up and play with dolls. I think they are going to be who they are going to be. We can influence them, but if we push too hard they will rebel and go where we don’t want them to. Just give your boy a good example of how to be a good kind and honest man and you will be proud of anything he will become

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