As my children progress into toddlerhood, I have found that there are certain items that are indispensable when it comes to performing my fatherly duties. While a mom’s list might include hand sanitizer or lavender lotion, this is something that most men can relate to. While not a complete list, these have been in my top-ten for the past few months and I thought it might be useful for all you new fathers out there…
1) Protective cup. For some unknown reason, toddlers like to kick their legs furiously when you least expect it. Picking up a child for a hug, for example, can lead to swift kicks that inevitably land in the one area that a man would not want a swift kick. Now, wearing a protective cup might make you walk a little funny but it sure beats vomiting on the floor while your kids laugh their tails off.
2) Snacks. Kids get hungry when you least expect it. For some odd reason, just because they’re growing an inch a day they think they should get food whenever they’re hungry. Adding to this dilemna is that they are not so well equipped to tell you, “Why Daddy, I’m quite hungry right now. Could you please give me something to eat?” Instead, your precious child goes from zero to eruption in no time. Having some Cheerios or Kix cereal for such an occasion will go a long way.
3) Tissue. Your toddler will spew some of the most vile fluids you have ever seen. These fluids will ooze from your child’s nose in such copious amounts that you might think she was an extra in the movie Ghostbusters. Having tissue on hand will save you from having to use your own shirt for a quick cleanup. Besides, you’ve seen that kid at the playground who uses the back of his hand to wipe snot and dirt all over his face. Do you want that to be your child? The mothers will look at you and snicker because they expect that from a Dad.
4) Parlor Tricks. Every Dad needs to know a trick or two to keep the kids entertained. I can cross my eyes and then have one eye dance to the left or the right – which mesmorizes the kids just long enough for them to forget why they were about to go ballistic (in my case it’s almost certainly one taking a toy from the other). I can also make a loud hiccup-type sound that cracks the kids up every time. (Note: Your wife might not appreciate your tricks as much as you or the kids do. Proceed at your own risk.)
5) Batteries. Sizes AA, AAA, D, C, and 9-volt. Someday I’m going to run for President and my platform will be that I’ll introduce legislation that will make it mandatory for all toy makers to use the same size battery. Until then we all have to be well-stocked with every size battery imaginable. Few things are worse than having a favorite electronic toy stop working right as you’re about to watch the Chargers
win lose a big game and not have any batteries in the house.
6) A small phillips screw driver. Along the same lines as #5, all toys have battery compartments with tiny little screws that must have been designed by Santa’s elves. Most of us manly-men (*snicker*) don’t have a screw driver that small because the size of our tools are important. But trust me on this, you need a small screw driver.
7) A non-operating “real” phone. Toddlers love telephones. I can’t explain it, it’s just true. Unfortunately, they also know when they’re being hosed when you try giving them a toy phone to play with. What we have done is taken an old cordless phone that we no longer use (and is no longer plugged into a phone line) and keep it charged right next to our real phone. Now, when one of our toddlers wants to use the phone we take the old phone, push a couple of buttons to show them it’s “real” and they’re good to go.
A Kid-safe drawer. First, you don’t let your wife do all the cooking, do you? Real men know how to cook. Sure it can be a meatball sandwich or a hearty plate of nachos, but you should be able to handle kitchen duties when called upon. When I’m in the kitchen, our kids love to run around. Inevitably they want to open up the cabinets and rummage around inside. Instead of banning them from the kitchen, we have designated a drawer as “their” drawer. In it are all of our
knives, skewers and fine china tupperware containers and lids. We direct them to that drawer when they get curious and they have a great time re-arranging all of my perfectly stacked tupperware containers.
9) Funny voices. Every dad needs a signature funny voice that you can unleash at times when there is a need for a major distraction. My voice is a cross between Scooby Doo and Yogi Bear. Funny voices work best when accompanied by funny faces. Protruding tongue and googly eyes are always a hit. (Note: Wife will definitely not respond to this voice in the same way as your kids – especially in the bedroom.)
10) Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Preferably with ample amounts of chocolate. (This is not for your kids, it’s for your wife when she’s had enough dealing with
you the kids life. Possibly the most important item in your tool kit.)
Now this list is just a sampling of all the tools available to a dad. It’s a treacherous path, this fatherhood thing, and we could use all the tools we can get. So, Dads (and Moms!) what tools do you have in your tool kit?