How to Be a Great Dad, as Told by Pro Skateboarders
There's going to be a lot of shit and piss.
The author and his kids. All photos courtesy of the advice-giving dads
I personally grew up without a dad as a member of the No Dad Posse, so the concept of Father's Day is still rather foreign to me; my wife has to remind me each year that it happens in June. But although I had no male role model in my life other than what I saw on sitcoms, for the past six years I've done all I can to be the best father possible. The truth is, like most people, I have no clue what the hell I'm doing. I'm totally winging it! I read numerous parenting books prior to having kids, but they didn't really help. All I really took away from them is that I was fucked and would one day accidentally kill the baby.
So I decided immediately after my first son was born that I would someday write a humorous parenting guide full of nothing but the worst advice so other first-time dads wouldn't be as shit scared as I was. For more than half a decade now I've been scribbling little notes to myself of things I've learned along the way. Like:
— Tell your kids the house is haunted and if they hear any sounds at night it's very important they stay in bed and hide under the covers because the ghosts will eat their faces and kill them. That way when they hear the floor and bed creaking from you and your wife having sex they'll be too terrified to get out of bed to see what the noise is.
— If your kid likes playing with your phone lie to them about where the iPhone is located and have them search for it for hours to keep them busy.
— The key to potty training is to have all video game systems hooked to a TV in the bathroom. Telling them they're only allowed to play them while sitting on the toilet gives them an incentive to go to the bathroom.
As I sifted through page after page of silly tips it hit me that I don't really want the book to just be my take on child rearing, so I began interviewing dozens of friends about their parenting experiences over the years. Since it's Father's Day, I decided to share some serious, hilarious, and absurd advice from 13 of my dear friends, who also happen to be a few of my favorite pro skaters and some of the best dads ever.
"My daughter is 20-something and I don't think she's ever seen a wiener except on the internet. A good thing to do when your kid is around nine or ten is to show them a professional, medical website on the Internet of the worst STDs ever and tell them 'This is what's going to happen.' It made my kid never want to get herpes or warts.
Here's another good tip: whenever my kid comes to me and she's crying, my go-to is, 'Oh, you started your period.' Then she laughs and it's good and I don't have to know why she was crying because we just laugh about shit. If my kid ever comes to me crying my first thought, my initial reaction is, Oh my god, she's seen a wiener. She's either handled a wiener or she's totally seen one up close. So I have to defuse it with, 'You started your period. How cute!' Then I never have to find out why she was crying.
My best advice is if you ever have girls always encourage them to play softball. If you have boys just make sure they don't go to jail."
— Jason Jessee
"I don't believe in God and I think the way you live on when you're dead is how your friends talk of you. If you're cool and nice and they talk of you in a positive way then that's heaven. If they talk about you like you're an asshole, that would be like hell. So it's great when you have a really cool kid who's not an asshole. That's a rad way to be remembered. And I think the way you make a cool kid is to leave most of the work up to your wife, because if it was up to me he'd be an asshole."
— Jim Thiebaud
The lesson is: You're gonna deal with a lot of shit and piss. —Tony Trujillo
"You know how you see those cartoons of little boys pissing on their moms? Well, imagine a little girl doing that from the seated position on the toilet. I assumed that when my daughter was potty training that you just sit her on the toilet and it automatically sprays down. Well, she wanted to sit with her legs around the bowl like it's a saddle, and I didn't know any better, so she starts peeing out of the toilet up at me. I held her by the waist and tried to push her belly button toward the floor to aim it but nothing was helping. I didn't say anything to anyone but it kept happening; for a week straight she was pissing all over me. Finally I was at a Phillies game with my wife and I had piss all running down my leg and she thought it was mine. I was like, 'I don't know what I'm doing wrong.' She told me if she sat like that she'd piss up at me too. I had no clue that it doesn't automatically point down. With the legs spread like that it shoots forward; my wife explained it like a finger in a water hose, how it sprays everywhere. So my advice to dads with daughters is to not let them wrap their legs around the toilet when potty training. Maybe if I would have read that in a Daddy and Me book I would've known and avoided a lot of piss all over me."
— Dan Pensyl
"So yesterday we ate at a bar and grill. I had to take [my son] Waylon for a piss. Turned out to be a duece. Took him 10 minutes to drop a log. I'm standing in the one stall bathroom smelling piss and shit and puke. I turn around and go, "You done yet?" "Yeah. I mean, no." Dammit! Wait another 5 and he's done. I don't usually wipe his ass no more but, sometimes, you can smell that he ain't wiped good enough. So in this case, I'd foreseen it. He gets off the toilet and there's a massive brown log. But then, there's also a docked pile of bright green diarrhea. What the fuck is that? It's all over his ass. He bends over so I can clean the bullshit off his butt and drags his hair is a puddle of piss. Shit ass or piss hair? What's worse? The lesson is: You're gonna deal with a lot of shit and piss."
— Tony Trujillo
"You got to allow your kid to do the things that most people think kids can't do. It blows my mind some of the things I let my kid do that people are like, "Oh my god! You let him do that?" Like one time we were in Mexico out on these islands off of the coast near Puerto Vallarta and you have to enter the islands by swimming through a cave; the boat can't make it through. You get out there and it's all adults and my one kid.
I swear kids are so coddled now but you have to let them do what you think they can do because they most likely can do it. A lot of parents limit their kids' activities because they think, They're kids, they can't do that."
— Steve Rodriguez
I don't really hide much from my daughter. She's five and I tell her how fucked up things are and if she has questions I answer them. 'Why is that guy acting like that?' 'Well, that guy does drugs.' —Mike Anderson
"When I was 12, I wanted a skimboard. I saved enough money from a paper route to get a Victoria, which was considered the best at the time. My dad drove me to three different surf shops one day in search of one, but they only had cheap, foam-topped skimboards for beginners. He finally asked one of the shop managers where to find a Victoria, and the guy told us that the company is based in Laguna Beach—about an hour away from us in San Diego. My dad said "let's go!" and we headed north straight to the source. I was excited, thankful and surprised that he would take so much time out of his day to indulge me and my soon-to-be new hobby.
That day taught me to spend a little extra time and effort to connect with my kids and their interests, and to provide unexpected support when they are motivated to try something new. But sometimes it's as simple as chauffeuring around Southern California, getting stuck in traffic all day."
— Tony Hawk
"I don't really hide much from my daughter. She's five and I tell her how fucked up things are and if she has questions I answer them. 'Why is that guy acting like that?' 'Well, that guy does drugs.' 'Why are my uncles being so loud?' 'They've had too much alcohol. They're drunk.' 'How come the gorilla looks so sad in the zoo?' 'Think about it. He's supposed to be in the wild but he's trapped in a cage.' 'How come we don't go to church?' 'We don't do that for our own reasons.'
She went up to one of our neighbors, Scary Gary, and asked him if he believed in God and he said, 'Matter of fact I do and I know your father would disagree with me.' Then he asked her if she believed in God and she said, 'No, I believe in myself.' I was really proud of her when she said that. It's pretty powerful for a kid to think that. I was like, 'You are so much smarter than I was as a kid.' But yeah, she's going to be jaded and bitter and it's going to be great. Ask me again in 20 years and I'll let you know if it worked."
— Mike Anderson
"My kid is about to be three and I had no idea but at this age they're already really curious about themselves. So lately my guy has really been exploring his lower body and we've been catching him. We'll be like, 'Where's Jasper at?' We'll open up the door to his room and he'll be standing there naked with a little baby boner and he'll be like, 'Get out of here. Go downstairs!' We just let him do it. It's not like he's going to get in trouble for playing with himself. We just told him to do it in his room.
We call it his 'bird' and yesterday he was rubbing his bird out in public and my wife goes, 'What are you doing?' He says, 'I'm rubbing my bird.' That's when we had to explain he can't do it in public and to do it at home. He just disappeared for like 30 minutes and I went up there and he was standing in front of the mirror, naked, looking at himself. So he's already into kinky shit. I didn't know two-and-half-year-old kids did that. So just a heads-up to new parents."
— Justin Brock
I eventually want my daughter to have healthy relationships with people so I'm just trying to show her what a solid dude is as best as I possibly can so she gravitates towards that. —Chris Cole
"It's the little things you learn that you wouldn't expect, like, you're gonna be sucking snot out of your kid's nose with the NoseFrida tube when they're sick. And you're going to end up with snot in your own mouth but it's your kid and you don't care.
My kid is only ten-months-old and loves to play with my skateboard more than anything but if you leave it with her for one second she's slamming. What I did is got a little Penny board with no grip tape and I tightened the wheels all the way down so she's not going to really roll anywhere. Eventually the wheels will be loosened up and she'll be rolling around.
Lastly, I don't feel comfortable leaving my daughter with even my best friend. If it's a female I totally feel comfortable but I'm definitely not comfortable leaving her with a bro who is so absorbed into the game or a skate video that he forgets he's actually babysitting and your kid climbs into the cabinets or crawls out the front door."
— Johnny Layton
"It's not like I want my daughter sleeping around but I eventually want my daughter to have healthy relationships with people so I'm just trying to show her what a solid dude is as best as I possibly can so she gravitates toward that. Kids with shitty dads get in shitty relationships because they had shitty role models. So my best parenting advice would be to be solid.
And it helps to skate. Your dad reactions are crazy. You'll catch your kid in a blink. My son, when he was little and began to walk, fell down the stairs at our house. I remember being behind him and as he started to fall I jumped over the stairs and over him and landed facing backwards to grab him before he got to the bottom of the stairs. I think as skateboarders your brain processes really quickly because you're dealing with quick movements and decision making all the time, while in the air. You have impulse control so you know what to do and how to act quickly.
— Chris Cole
"You think I know anything about parenting? I have a three-year-old anarchist. He won't listen to anything. He does exactly whatever he wants. He does not care. Our kids are too little to know if I'm doing it right. I haven't broken him yet. Talk to me when he's 40, if I'm still alive, to see if he's a serial killer or if he needs therapy or if he just got out of rehab or if he graduated from Yale. I have no idea what I'm doing. He's three so it's about time to get him to listen. I tried yelling at him, like, 'Hey! Come here!' But no, he does this thing I call 'giving up on life,' where he just lies down on the ground and goes limp. I'm like, 'Do you want a time out?' And he's like, 'Yes, I want a time out.' Nothing works. He doesn't want to go to bed, he doesn't want to brush his teeth, he doesn't want to listen, period. It's like, 'Fuck you, Dad.' He's three. I'm fucked. I can't get my kid to do something as simple as, 'Stop!'"
Don't ever talk to other parents. About anything. —Jeff Grosso
But if I could give one bit of parenting advice it would be: Don't ever talk to other parents. About anything. Don't talk about dietary needs or GMOs or stupid-ass, gluten-free bullshit because that's going to lead you to the anti-vaccers who are like, 'I'm not vaccinating my child because I know better than science.' Other than, 'Hey, my kid farted on yours,' don't talk about anything. Don't bring up schools or potty training, none of it because it just opens up a can of worms for everyone to judge one another. You'll just end up losing friends or acquaintances or you'll miss the opportunity to make friends because you're going to hear what people have to say and you'll be like, 'Those motherfuckers are insane.' Meanwhile your kid just wants to run around and co-play. 'Let's get a play date going and co-play and sit around talking about if vaccines cause autism.' Really? What are you a birther and a 9/11 conspiracy theorist too? Do you have a bunker under your house? I assure you, you'll have more trouble with other parents than with other kids."
"I have two kids: a four-year-old and an 8-month-old. The 8-month-old is just crawling so he's just starting to be annoying. The four-year-old makes me regret being fertile. I wish I had slammed my cock in a car door. The thing that people aren't honest about when it comes to parenting is that a good percentage of the time you'll end up hating your kid; I don't care who you are. You're never going to like your kid 100% of the time. The best you can hope for is about 55% of the time you love the kid so the odds are on the positive end. The rest of the time you're going to hate the kid.
The thing that people aren't honest about when it comes to parenting is that a good percentage of the time you'll end up hating your kid. —Tim O'Connor
It's too constant. You shouldn't have to do anything that constant where you're dying to go to sleep and the kid won't let you. You finally pass out and you're forced awake by the kid again and they're right there in front of your face screaming at you. I've never done anything in my life, other than existing within my own mind, that is that constant. I deal with it by drinking more than I ever have in my life. I never used to be the guy who used to have a beer with dinner but now I'm fully that dude. It takes the edge off having a few kids.
I take longer shits now. I was never one of those Al Bundy guys with a newspaper under my arm but I sit in the shitter for some peace and quiet now. It's like a sensory depravation chamber. I'd rather huff my own diarrhea than hang out with my kid as much I do. I'll stay in there until my legs go numb from sitting on the toilet. I've also turned into the new Dave Duncan where I go announce skate contests on the weekends just to fly away from my family for a weekend, pretty much each week. So my only words of wisdom would be: Don't have kids. It's worse than you think it is." —Tim O'Connor
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