05 December 2012

Daddy School: Be Enthusiastic

When I first became a Daddy, I had grandiose notions of guiding my child gently, but firmly, through life to adulthood. I imagined sitting at the table, teaching her Aristotle and Twain, Churchill and Verne, geometry and geography. I would tell her, "Job well done, daughter.", and she would smile contentedly.

Oh, the idealistic days.

Reality is slightly different. Now I find myself standing over the boy as he pees in the potty while I scream, "Yay! Yay! Way to go! Wow!", and generally going into hysterical affirmations and other wild encouragements.

You see, as a Daddy, one of the foremost requirements is enthusiasm. And not just your average, mundane, run of the mill enthusiasm, such as you would exhibit for your favorite team. No, I speak of the extraordinary, wild, seemingly uncontrolled, often forced, very loud and EXTREME enthusiasm small children demand for every step they take towards maturity. It's the only thing capable of convincing them that something is right and good. That they have done something correctly. That you actually ARE paying attention to them as they put together yet another stack of blocks for you to revel in with uncontrollable joy and NOT actually passing out on the couch from sheer exhaustion. It's hollering "Yay!" so many times for so many things that other adults look at you like you're insane because you see them buckle their seat belt on their own and you began clapping and yelling, "Yay!! You did it! Such a big boy!"

Yes, enthusiasm is an absolute Daddy requirement, as stated by Law.  Our children require it to build their self confidence and basic skills, such as motor skills, hand-eye coordination, balance, speech, eating , walking, etc. They look to us to know that they are clearing the current hurdle, and if we are quiet or inattentive, they see no reason to continue their stellar progress. Oh sure, they will develop certain skills naturally, simply through necessity, but they will not develop as quickly or as steadily as they will when they see and hear their Daddy (or Mommy) wildly approve of their actions. Nor will they develop the same level of self confidence.

So don't be ashamed to show your nurturing side. Enthusiastically cheer your children on to accomplishment. That's what Daddies do.

And if, the next time you're eating supper at your favorite steakhouse, you loudly cheer for the huge man in the next booth for using his knife correctly, don't despair. You may be kicked out, or you may get your hind end beaten into the ground - but you'll still be building up his self confidence.