Advice to a new dad

A pending new dad on social media site (expecting his first child by Christmas) made a general call for any sort of parenting advice.  One user mentioned a parenting book, and so I posted this semi-sort-of-related comment:

This is an aside. You’ll see a lot of toddler activity books that involve making toys with household objects. You’ll fondly remember Calvin & Hobbes playing in a cardboard box. You’ll even let your kid play in a cardboard box for a few days after you buy a major appliance, before recycling the box. But then, every Christmas you’ll buy a crapload of plastic toys and electronic gadgets for your kid that crush his inherent ingenuity and imagination.

Read these three books:

1. How to Grow up in One Piece

2. Where did you go? Out. What did you do? Nothing.

3. How to Do Nothing with Nobody All Alone by Yourself

By Robert Paul Smith.

And then maybe you go to a hardware store, furniture store and grocery store when they’re unpacking merchandise, and plead with them to give you their boxes. Then, instead of a toy kitchen or pop-up canvas play hut or other large toys, you might just set aside a section of your living room for two octagonal watermelon crates or two BBQ grill boxes topped with a futon box roof. You might even fight with your wife over the vital importance of the most awesome toy ever created gaining a permanent presence in your living room — nah this wasn’t some temporary experiment — because those boxes really are a boat, plane, space ship, grocery store, cave, hot air balloon, dive for hide-and-go-seek, and a reading alcove on a rainy day.

[Okay, admittedly, we do own a toy kitchen, although I've downsized it to a portable one that usually gets moved into one of our cardboard rooms. And those rooms are leftovers from my daughter's cardboard fort party last summer. And I really did have to put my foot down about consuming a large portion of our front room permanently with cardboard boxes. They are the best toys we own. Anyway...]

And then you’ll enjoy a good chuckle when you are cruising through a Target department store some Black Friday to buy an extension cord — admittedly a really bad day to buy an extension cord — and you’ll notice they are selling a walk-in cardboard space ship and your first thought won’t be, “Geez, they already decorated the outside of the boxes” or “I can’t believe they’re charging $20 for this on sale.” Your first thought will be, “P-shaw, that cardboard is only a quarter-inch thick. It will crumble when the kids climb it to escape the lava pit on Planet 10.”


One Response to “Advice to a new dad”

  1. Alan says:

    #1 suggestion: Get in touch with a multigenerational community such as a church. I have learned more about parenting from older men who’ve been good fathers, plus my church offers a really terrific parenting course every year.

    November 27th, 2010 at 7:10 am