Several events have started me thinking more about fathers lately. For one, my mom was down for a visit last week. She’s 80 now, and dad has been gone for 4 years, which makes the time we get to spend with her even more precious. We never get together without thinking about him a lot, and the great legacy he left for us.
On the other end of the spectrum, my youngest daughter turns 17 next week, and that shocking indication of the passing of time has a way of sobering one up. It’s a cliché for a reason: it seems like just a year ago she was a defenseless infant, and just a week ago she was a prickly pre-teen. And now when I have a tech question about my website or cell phone or wifi, I go to her, and she condescends to help me. Plus, I get to try out some jokes for my column on her, which means I get to see some world-class eye rolling. (On the downside, she has been as reluctant as my wife to address me as either “@hilariousgenius” or “Martacus.” Which is disappointing.)
Regular CO readers have heard of some of my great parenting techniques, but for new arrivals, here are a few tips.
First, to be an adequate father, you don’t have to do that much: marry the woman you are going to have kids with, then stick around, earn a little, love them, don’t vote for leftists. (That last one is not just for dads – it’s a requirement for all functional adults.) If you’ve got daughters, keep them off the pole. If you’ve got sons, don’t let them play soccer. It’s not that hard.
To be a world-class dad, I would suggest devising a few additional monkey tricks for the kids that you teach them when they are very tiny, and then have them perform those for visitors. That gives them self-esteem.
For example, in addition to my call-and-response routine with my first daughter when she was still in diapers (I’d say, apropos of any terrible story on the news when we were together, “Who do we blame that on?” and she’d respond with an adorable, “The Democrats!”), I also came up with a couple of other crowd-pleasers.
When I asked her, “Which is your favorite of Aristotle’s logical fallacies?” I taught her to say, “Post hoc ergo propter hoc.” (This usually came out “procto hoc,” which is close enough.) I’d follow up with, “What does that mean in English?” To which she would reply, “After this, therefore because of this.”
My closer would be to ask her, “When you are on the court, what kind of Supreme Court Justice will you be?” She would answer with, “A strict constructionist!”
Her pronunciation wasn’t always perfect when she was two, but the answer still always killed. The only exception was when she spoiled the moment after her answer by pointing to her diaper and saying, “I made poop.”
But I saved the day by pointing out that that was in fact her eerily accurate Ruth Bader Ginsburg impression. Then I said, “Now do your Hillary Clinton!” And she’d screw her adorable little face up into a frown and screech, “CAW, CAW, CAW!” at the top of her lungs.
But enough about my terrific parenting skills. I’d like to point to another dad who is doing it right: Donald Harris, father of Kamala Harris.
Hear me out.
I know that your first instinct is that he probably failed as a father. He split up with her mom years ago, and although Kamala did manage to stay off the pole, she did something arguably much worse, sleeping with creepy old (married) Willie Brown to launch her career.
And anyone whose child ends up in this dementia of Democratic candidates (hat tip to, I think, John Gabris? And all the other COers who chimed in with collective nouns for the Dem hopefuls) has been a less than super successful parent.
On the other hand, in response to one of her recent idiotic interviews (you need a scorecard to keep track with this bunch), he displayed the nuclear option of fatherhood: public shaming.
Some idiotic radio interviewer asked Kamala if she has smoked pot, she responded, “Half my family’s from Jamaica. Are you kidding me?”
This answer was part of a painfully awkward pattern of leftists trying to appeal to millennials by pretending to be young and hip. Hillary pretended that she carries hot sauce everywhere she goes, and she once said, “I’m just chillin’ in Cedar Rapids,” with a straight face. Squanto Warren (#wemustneverstopmockingher) pretended that she likes to crack open a cold one in her kitchen like a real-life Peter Griffin. RBG pretends that she’s a feminist spokesperson, and that she has a pulse.
In the same vein, Kamala came out with an execrable “mood mix” selection of music, and claimed that back in college, she used to get high listening to Snoop and Tupac songs. (Fact check: those two haven’t ever actually produced anything that could technically be called “songs.” Also, neither of them produced an album until 6 years after Kamala graduated from college.) (So liar, liar, big floppy rasta hat on fire.”)
Anyway, Kamala’s dad was not happy with his daughter’s crass reference to the heavy-toking Jamaican stereotype. He wrote a public letter saying, “My dear departed grandmothers…, as well as my deceased parents, must be turning in their grave right now to see their family’s name, reputation and proud Jamaican identity being connected…with the fraudulent stereotype of a pot-smoking joy seeker and in pursuit of identity politics.”
Ouch! Daddy no like!
I love this for two reasons: he called her out on the kind of pernicious racial stereotyping the leftists deploy against conservatives but never pay a price for themselves. And he also slammed her for playing identity politics, which I think is one of the most destructive trends in our public life right now.
So I salute you, Mr. Harris. But I have to confess that I’m not as upset as you are that Kamala is a pot-smoking joy seeker.
I just wish she wasn’t a pot-smoking office seeker!
(See. I can be as faux hip as any Dem candidate.) (If I had a mike, I’d drop it.)