How Can I Be a Good Dad: Getting Your Kid to Quote Famous Films
Being an Engaged Father
In the early years of a child's life, being an engaged dad can sometimes be difficult. This leads many men to lament the general malaise of the first few years of a child's life. In fact, I've had at least one friend describe babies under a year old as worthless.
Sure, an exaggeration, but one that's born of frustration. Generally-speaking, babies need their moms a lot more than they need their fathers during those early years. The most obvious need they have is food, but generally the mother is the one who comforts them the most as well.
That leaves us dads to wait for the day where we start playing a more prominent role. For some dads, that comes the day the kid can play sports. I submit that dads need not wait that long because language acquisition offers the opportunity to definitively put your stamp on your child. So far, for me, that has led to my proudest moment as a father.
For better mostly, mothers tend to be more practical parents than fathers. But maybe that's just my situation. Mothers, for instance, don't generally teach their two-year-olds, swear words. I can guarantee though, if fathers had their way, two-year-olds would run around swearing up a storm while the dads sat back and laughed. But we don't have our way, which is probably a good thing.
Wherever you are in your child's life, know that language acquisition is a prime opportunity to impart your genius through your child. As children become more proficient talkers, they love repeating stuff, which necessitates a certain amount of care among the parents. Drop that hammer on your toe and scream out in furious agony and your kid is almost sure to arrive at daycare and repeat, word-for-word, whatever it was that you said. Either that or he'll choose whatever situation is most completely inappropriate to utter those words, like dinner with his grandparents.
But where there is risk, there is also reward. As a former film critic, I tended to see more rewards and began teaching my son, Tyler, famous film quotes as soon as he was able. Well, teach is perhaps too strong a word. I just said them and hoped he repeated them. Among the quotes he learned quickly:
"I'll have what she's having."
"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
"I could have been a contender. I could have been somebody."
Don't ask me why they make Darth Vader pajamas for toddlers, but they do. Tyler got some, a tribute to his mother who didn't seen anything wrong with clothing the boy in images of what many current dads consider the epitome of evil. For me, this was clearly an invitation to introduce Tyler to "Star Wars". So I taught him a couple of quotes:
Connecting with your child
"Luke, I am your father."
"Come over to the dark side of the force."
Now, I'm not sure either of these were spoken in "Star Wars" exactly like that as I'm not that big a "Star Wars" geek, but when uttered, most people believe they're legitimate lines, so that's all that matters. And although he repeated them, I wasn't sure he was ever going to say them to anyone else because two-and-a-half year olds don't do everything you tell them to and Tyler really had no clue what he was saying, especially since he doesn't watch television, much less "Star Wars". But then this happened:
Tyler was at daycare and apparently somebody had put a Darth Vader-like helmet in the infant room, which Tyler happened to visit that day. Two of the teachers saw the helmet and one grabbed it and began pretending to be Darth Vader, heavy breathing and all. She then uttered one of Tyler's lines: "Luke, I am your father." Now, they had no idea Tyler even knew what they were talking about, but he walked up behind them and said: "Come over to the dark side of the force."
As you can imagine, the teachers were surprised and couldn't stop laughing.
And when they relayed the story to me, I thought, that's my boy.
I could not have been more proud.
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