Maybe you weren't aware of it, but one of the requirements of being a good dad is that you must know everything there is to know about everything. Or at least act like you do. And you must always be at the ready to share your vast storehouse of wisdom with your children when they ask, in hopes that they will be able to do a heck of a lot more with it than you have.
Whenever my daughter Chelsea comes to me seeking wisdom and advise, I do my best to steer her in the right direction. She still has all her limbs and a fair number of teeth, so I must be doing something right.
Lately, however, she's been asking questions that I'm not mentally equipped to answer. Take the other night, for example. She cornered me after dinner and wanted to know what "sectional misconduct" was.
"Sectional misconduct?" I asked with a nervous smile. "Where did you hear that?" Of course I knew what she meant to say, but in my heart there was a small glimmer of hope that she really was curious about the misdeeds of a very large sofa.
She looked up at me with that angelic face and said, "The man on the TV news said the president committed sectional misconduct. What's that?"
I waffled for a moment, searching for just the right words to say. Then, I did what any good father would do when faced with the fact that his baby girl is growing up and getting wise to the ways of the world. I made something up.
"Sectional misconduct means the President tore the tags off the couch cushions in the Oval Office and now the Sectional Prosecutor wants to put him in jail."
"D-a-a-a-a-d!" That's how she said it, like it had 4 a's. It was clear that she didn't believe me and I suddenly found myself teetering on the brink of fatherhood failure. Luckily, she gave me the look she inherited from her mother, that "if you had a brain you'd be dangerous" look. I hate that look and she knows it, so I sent her to her room and told her to never watch TV again.
In daddy-daughter terms, this mission was a success, at least until the next day, when she came home from school and said, "Dad, Beth Ann Higginbottom says there's no such thing as sectional misconduct."
"Yep. She said it's sexual misconduct."
"Well, I'll be darned."
"What's sexual misconduct?"
"Go ask your mother. And don't ever talk to Beth Ann Higginbottom again!"
Call me old fashioned, but I think the explaining of the birds and the bees falls under her mom's jurisdiction, not mine. Women are just better at that sort of thing. Women can talk about the particulars of sex with a straight face. Men can't. We giggle and stutter and talk with our hands and make funny sounds. And we're certainly not comfortable using the anatomically-correct terms for the private parts of the male/female anatomy. That's why we give our own private parts nicknames like: [insert your own incredibly-exaggerated private part nickname here] and [come on, I know you have one].
No, the explaining of the facts of life to children is not a job for men. We turn into sweating, stuttering, giggling, incoherent idiots. Our children do not need to see their fathers like this. It could scar them for life.
To prove my point, here's the word-for-word account from that fateful day in 1971 when my dad attempted to explain the birds and bees to me. It was September 12, my eleventh birthday.
"Well, uh, you see son, uh, the man has, uh, you know, this thingamabob, and, the woman has, uh, well, it's, uh, called, uh, a whatchamadigit I think, and, uh, well, women are built funny, you know, because their bicycles don't have bars, you know, and they, uh, well, the man and woman, uh, they have dinner first because, well, you know, everybody's gotta eat sometime, and, uh, then they watch Johnny Carson for awhile and, uh, you know, uh, there's that thingamabob and that, uh, whatchamadigit, uh, you know, and then, uh, they uh... hey, son, how about them Braves?"
I wasted a perfectly good puberty thinking that the facts of life involved a thingamabob, a whatchamadigit, and the Atlanta Braves. Thanks, dad.
So, what are we parents supposed to do when current events on the evening news cause our children to ask questions we're not ready to answer? Turn off the TV, you say? Okay. Don't let her watch the news? I can do that, too. Keep her locked in her room until she's thirty and feed her through a tiny hole in the door? Brilliant! My problem is solved.
Now, if I can just figure out what to do about Beth Ann Higginbottom.
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Tim Knox, Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, Radio Host
Founder, The Insiders Club, Giving You The Power To Start Your Business Today
Bestselling Author of: "Everything I Know About Business I Learned From My Mama"
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