I’ve been a father for just over half my life — definitely the better half. Before kids, I was pretty self-absorbed. After my first child was born, the word “absorb” took on a whole new meaning.
Now I’m nearing the end of my child-rearing days, with only one of my four kids still at home. But I think every day about what it was like to be a young father. It was, quite simply, the greatest experience of my life. Here are 10 reasons why:
10. My bank account was too full anyway. Excess funds? No worries. Just peel off $300 for sports camp, $200 for a prom dress, $75 for new cleats. Before you know it, you’re back in the red, and all is right with the world again.
9. Minivans are cool. Over a span of 15 years, my family went through three minivans. And I mean “went through” them. When it came time to trade our last one, we got a used bicycle and a box of Tic-Tacs.
8. It’s cheaper than the gym. As a dad with young kids, you don’t exactly need to “find time to exercise.” If you’re not sprinting across the yard to keep Michael out of the street, you’re lugging Jennifer’s cheerleading gear from the parking lot two counties away.
7. Sleep is overrated. They say too much sleep can be harmful. Thankfully, I never had to worry about that. By the time my youngest was old enough to pour his own cereal, I was waiting up for the oldest to get home.
6. I always wanted to be Bobby Cox. I never made it to the Majors. But I did get to live out my coaching fantasies, on youth fields and rec courts. As a result, there are now hundreds of kids who are probably scarred for life.
5. Who doesn’t love ballet? As the father of a daughter, I learned to enjoy the finer things in life: dance, music, boys who know the meaning of the word “curfew.”
4. Legos keep you nimble. Some people worry about losing their balance and flexibility as they age. Not me. Nothing trains you to hop from foot to foot like a floor covered with sharp plastic building blocks.
3. Dr. Seuss rocks. I thought reading the collected works of Shakespeare was the zenith of my intellectual development. Hah. As every parent knows, nothing compares to the collected works of Theodore Geisel.
2. The excitement is killing me. Someday I’m really going to miss all the sports banquets, honors programs and school assemblies. Too bad I can’t go ahead and miss them now.
1. I lucked out. After I hit the marriage lottery, you’d think my luck would run out. Nope. God had so little faith in my parenting ability, he sent me four kids even I couldn’t screw up.
And for that, I’m eternally grateful.
Rob Jenkins is a local freelance writer and the author of “Family Man: The Art of Surviving Domestic Tranquility,” available at Books for Less and on Amazon. E-mail Rob at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @FamilyManRob.