I would die for my children. Just don't ask me to spend time with them. What they don't tell you about parenthood is how excruciatingly boring it can be to spend time with your own kids. And mine are funny! And cute!
I know they are because my wife posts photos of them on Facebook, and I see the number of "likes" they get from all the way upstairs.
When I tried to buy myself a World's-Greatest-Dad mug, I was informed my name was on a "no-buy list." Where did I go wrong? I think it was the way I was raised...
My dad is Japanese, old school Japanese. He never took me fishing, played catch, or all those other things white dads on TV do, yet I still turned out GREAT. Sure, I ended up spending my 20s seeking the approval of patriarchal father figures -- some of whom tried to exploit me sexually, but that's NORMAL! Am I right ladies?
Another thing my father never taught me was financial literacy. As such, here's my retirement plan: One day I'm going to visit my son or daughter for lunch and just never leave. But for this plan to work, my kids will actually have to like me.
Fear of being homeless may not be the noblest of reasons, but I know I'm not alone. So for all the parents out there who want their kids to like them without really trying, I give you...
BAD DAD HACKS FOR FAKING INTEREST IN YOUR KIDS
- Bored reading bedtime stories to your children? Just pretend these kids aren't your own, but belong to a super hot single parent you're trying to impress. Waaaaay better performance.
- Buy your kids only the toys that you were deprived of as a child. For me, that was Star Wars. My childhood lightsaber was a cardboard wrapping paper tube. Two whacks and it went flaccid. My kids on the other hand have every lightsaber imaginable, from the telescopic cheapies, to official lightsaber replicas with authentic LucasFilm® sound effects. Sure they cry when I wallop them too hard, but painful is the path of the Jedi.
- Watch YouTube videos together. Sit 'em on your lap, find a playlist of kid-friendly videos, hit play, and enjoy a nice long nap.
TOY TRAIN IN SPACE
That's how I found Toy Train in Space, a two-minute video about a father who launches his son's favorite toy train into space using a weather balloon, an HD camera, and GPS, and returns it safely to earth.
This manages to be a mind-blowing DIY stunt, AND heartwarming. No wonder it has millions of views. We play it so often, I even tweeted about it.
Soon after, I noticed a "Ron Fugelseth" quietly followed me on Twitter. I checked his profile -- it's that Toy-Train-in-Space dad! We chatted back and forth until I suggested a Skype call. Maybe Ron could teach me how to launch a weather balloon/toy and my family could do it as a Sunday afternoon activity.
Ron could not have been nicer as he explained every step. I won't pretend I understood it all, but suffice it to say it took six months of planning, plus "two months of tracking the wind with this balloon tracking website, just to find the right day."
I'm thinking, we Asians may be the smartest people in the world, but me dumdum compared to this guy. So I asked, "What's your advice for dads like me who aren't as talented as you, much lazier, and who will never make the biggest YouTube video of all time?"
"To be honest, my kids don't really get what I did. They just thought, hey 'I love balloons. Let's make a big balloon! Wow! Or let's go run through corn together. Wow!' It was all these mini times that I got to spend with them that they loved. We go walk the train tracks by my house. They love that! It doesn't take much to be a good dad. Just do stuff with your kids. They love anything!"
After I hung up, I thought not only is he a gifted filmmaker, AND Father Of The Year, he's wiser than Yoda! I can't decide whether I want to be Ron Fugelseth, or strike him down with my FX Lightsaber.
I think what I'll do is rename my five-year-old Jedi apprentice "Lord Fugelsith" and challenge him to a duel. That way, I can take out my frustration on Ron, AND be a better father at the same time. Sure, there'll be tears along the way, but painful is the path of the Jedi.
Follow Ron at @ronfugelseth.
Follow Tetsuro Shigematsu on Twitter: www.twitter.com/tweetsuro