You once won a bar bet putting on a blindfold and rolling the perfect spliff. Now, when you change a diaper, you display a lumberjack’s touch, igniting a blind rage in your wife seen only in a wolf protecting her pups and insurance actuaries conferencing at Sandal’s, when the after-hours pool party runs out of pineapple rum.
Growing up, failing to earn the love and validation—even offhand, baseline acknowledgment—from your hapless father, you vowed to emulate the irreproachable patriarchs of the silver screen. Captain Von Trapp. Atticus Finch. Even concluding that if you stripped away his bone carving edge, the soup scene in The Great Santini proved Lieutenant Wilbur “Bull” Meechum was just a lovable goof, and that any man, including yourself, could be a great dad by just leaning in.
So why are you providing Stephen King with enough source material for a sequel to The Shining every time Junior burps up Similac, or interrupts an adroit, mutually forced lovemaking session with your increasingly distant wife by ramming his dirt king trike into the bedroom door?
Being a great dad is simple. Loosen up. Master the basics. And treat each interaction as an opportunity to add delicate components to a microchip that could one day stop Skynet from going live. Provided it’s engineered without even the slightest error.
Recently, during an exhaustive study on the human condition, students from The University of Phoenix pushed a Grotrian-Steinweg concert piano off the top of Chase Tower. They concluded that, when compared to the average father, the meticulously designed German instrument advancing downward had a better chance to alter course.