Pay Attention Daddy!

This is not my world.

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Sometimes things are difficult. Sometimes things are messy. Sometimes things are complicated. Sometimes we have to find ways to deal with difficult situations, and sometimes things are just flat out ridiculous, and all we can do is laugh.

But, we have to find a way to work through them.

Don't you think?

Or is it easier to say: "I don't know how."

That's not very self reliant, and it's not very productive.

When I was a kid and I needed to learn how to do something my Dad would very often point me in the right direction, but not always realize that sometimes folks like me need detailed instructions.

He would say: "Pay attention. It doesn't cost anything."

(It took me a long time to figure out what, exactly that meant, but when I did it served me well. Though - a note here to the fellas. Do not say "Pay attention. It doesn't cost anything" to your wife or significant other - EVER! You're welcome.)

While my Dad saying this could be frustrating and create a bit of a learning curve that didn't necessarily need to exist, it did help me become very detail oriented, it helped me learn to pay attention, it made me read signs, it made me read the directions, it helps me quite frankly to be able to read people.

Of course, I don't do all of these things all the time, but I am able to recognize when I need to revert back to these methodologies to get something done correctly.

Recently, I had one of these moments.

D needed to print something, but the printer was out of color ink. So, like my Dad might have done I told D to pull out the tray the printer sits on and open it up.

The problem being that she had never opened up the printer before, and I hadn't told her what "it" was...

"It's right there," I said. "Open it up! What do you think you need to do?"

A very confused D just stared at me. Netter rushed in to help D deal with me and the problem.

So I asked Netter: "Am I a bad Dad."

"You're not a bad Dad," she replied. "You just suck at home tech support."


Well, as tech support is essentially what I do for a living I needed to figure this out. What could I do differently next time?

Clearly, I needed to get back to my methods. So, I sought out D and apologized for not providing enough guidance and specific instruction. I told her I was sorry I had not read her reaction well enough, and I encouraged her to stop me next time and ask me for steps. I told her I would tell her sister to do the same so we were all on the same page.

The next day I found K and explained to her what had happened. I told her I'd clearly had a "Poppa moment," God love him and that while I had learned to learn from him and his gruff yet effective style I did not expect my girls to have to do the same.

"What would Poppa do to you?" K asked.

I could think of no specific example, but some 20 year old flashes ran through my brain and I came up with the following scenario.

"Well," I replied "Poppa liked to watch Star Trek, but when I needed help with my math homework he would come into the kitchen to help me go over a few steps and then tell me to get to it while he got back to watching the show.

It was all I could do not to yell out, Darn it Dad! Captain Kirk is gonna sleep with the Blue B****. That's how it ends. Now Get back in here and help me with my math homework."

What's that?

Yes, I said that out loud to my daughter, who of course then repeated it to her younger sister and all the while Netter was asking me if she could tweet that or Facebook it or something so everyone could laugh as hard as we were laughing.

I have no idea where that came from, but I'm glad I have teenagers who are old enough to know that I was really just trying to show them that I am human, I make mistakes and I understand so all they need to do is ask and I will listen and try and help.

As I told a buddy last night: "I think being a kid, being a teenager is one of the hardest things any of us ever has to do in this lifetime. If I can do something to help make it easier for my kids, as long as they cooperate and work with me, then I'm gonna do it."

Parents - what do you think?

*A final note for the Star Trek fans. I know Captain Kirk's fantasy woman is green. For some reason I thought blue. Phase me!