One of the benefits of having kids is that you can teach them things. For instance, I taught my kids how to not catch fish.
When I was a kid, my dad taught me how to not catch any fish, and I have fulfilled his legacy by passing that down to both of my boys. There is a fine art to throwing a prickly piece of plastic in the water for hours on end and doing that task over and over again, accomplishing absolutely nothing productive, Catching fish? Thousands of books and shows have been devoted to that, but I dare you to find one that explains how to come up empty. These are things that only a dad can teach.
For instance, I carefully instructed them how to hit golf balls into the woods.Those big fairways? Bah! The broadside of a barn! Trees are 90 percent air; you just have to aim for the wood part. Now that my sons are adults, I can look on with pride when those little dimpled balls clunk off several tree trunks and nowhere near the fairway, And when it happens, I smile proudly and say, "That's my boy!"
Cursing during household projects is another skill that I can listen fondly for when my kids get going with hammer and screwdrivers, They may even, someday when they least expect it, use my PG swearing, just as I used to when two pieces of mitered lumber would not fit together and the children were within earshot, I would yell at the wood, "Come on, you big kumquat, get in there!"
As a dad, I don't ask for thanks for these things. It's enough to know that, when they put up a crooked Christmas tree, spend hours trying to make sense of the tangled mess of cables behind the television and scream like a lunatic at the Packers, who can't hear you because they are on television, that they are taking a page from the dad playbook.
When you see your son throw a perfect spiral, sink a deep three or spike the volleyball with authority, you could pat yourselves on the back, but isn't there much more to be said when you witness your son belch authoritatively after a cold beer, sport a tattered old baseball cap so yellowed it looks like it has a liver disorder or drive a car with a glove compartment so full it could function as a miniature Menard's. Consistently losing at cards takes effort, just as planning vacations for when it rains and buying failing lottery tickets do. Teaching your kids to be losers? Well, that is part of the long tradition that dads like me are more than happy to share with the next generation up, so some day they can pass it along, too.
When you see a food stain on a shirt, a hole in your pants or rumpled hair that looks like like a bramble bush, you just have to go up to my boys and tell them they look like their dad. And watch them say, "I inherited that from my dad." It doesn't get any prouder than that.