A Father’s Day field guide to dads

How to survive the wilds of fatherhood

By Jake Gahr
Fatherhood

In my 10 years wandering the wilds of fatherhood, I’ve learned that different fathering situations call for different approaches. And just as the king of the jungle rules over many species of animals, so a father must be able to call upon the many different dads within himself. Here are a few of the dads I’ve been…maybe you’ll recognize one or two from your own time in the wild.

The SphinxDads are supposed to give advice: it’s in the job description. But sometimes a dad’s inner sphinx speaks more mysteriously than he should, like when he gave this recent (and only slightly exaggerated) advice to my son:

“Always give 110%. Even though that’s not really possible, because 100% is the maximum amount of anything because it’s everything. And you can’t really add 10% to everything, you know what I mean? Sure you do! Now go get ’em, buddy!”

Chef Boy-R-DadMany dads are still boys at heart. Or at least at taste buds. I know I am. In the extraordinary event that I’m in charge of providing nourishment to my growing offspring, Chef Boy-R-Dad has a few go-to recipes. Here’s one I’ll share:

Open cereal box. Pour cereal in bowl. Add milk.

I feel it’s just a matter of time before I’m approached to star in my own cooking show. Or NOT cooking show, to be precise.

The SuperI am not a handy man. Not. At. All. Still, from time to time a small repair needs to be made and The Super springs to action. For better or worse. Usually the latter.

Oh, who am I kidding—always the latter. There’s a towel rack right now that’s mocking me with its loose right side. I hear it in my sleep: “Fix me, Super. Fix me…if you dare!”

I’m thinking we’ll just move.

The GrillerLots of dads are grill kings, but I’m often a different kind of griller: I grill my kids with question after question until even I get tired of hearing The Griller’s voice.

Take, for example, a grueling evening routine that my son frequently endures: “How was your day?” The Griller asks. “What did you do? Who did you do it with? Were you warm enough? Cool enough? Do your shoes still fit? Did you remember to breathe in and out all day long?”

SolomonParents of more than one child know how hard it is to keep two or more kids happy at the same time, especially when sharing is involved. But when tensions flare up between the boys, I do my best to be judicious and wise. In fact, if it weren’t for my wife’s intervention, our house would be filled with toys split evenly in half by Solomon…you know, for fairness.

At the end of the day, all the kinds of dad I’ve been have one thing in common: They’re doing their best. They may even be giving 110%. So Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there trying to make their way in the wild.

Jake Gahr is a Hallmark writer, husband and father of two boys and several pets. He spends his free time wondering where his free time went and loving the circus that is his family.


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