Guys: How to be good with kids
PANIC! With a deadline approaching, I was typing so fast that my fingers were distorting the space-time continuum and causing a small black hole to suck paperclips off my desk.
Then the phone rang.
I snatched it up, expecting to have to tell my boss that I would be finished in a matter of seconds.
But out of the phone came an unearthly wail.
"Daaaaaad," said my daughter's voice. "My pink thing broke. The pink thing with the red things on."
I had to ask: "What pink thing?"
"The one with the red things on," she screamed.
I could hear her collapsing with the phone onto the floor, in need of a major remote comforting session.
All hope of meeting my deadline vanished.
Weep for us fathers of girls. What a burden we carry! Men, let's be honest, find women to be strange, unpredictable creatures. We also find children to be frightening, irrational beings. So when we find ourselves raising female children, it's a double whammy so scary it's off the chart.
Almost everything about raising girls is a "girl thing", i.e., an unfathomable mystery that men can never understand.
Such were my thoughts as I surveyed the scene at a "Dads and Daughters Dance" at a club.
Men in identical dark grey suits sat having identical conversations over identical drinks.
Their girls, undeniably a different species, flitted around like peacocks at a fancy dress party.
A reporter once asked me whether raising a girl differed from raising a boy. "It's like comparing apples and chalk," I said. "You can quote me on that."
There are many books about the incredibly strong and complex emotions in mother-daughter relationships. These are so powerful that when mommy and daughter have a row, you can actually see your windows bulging outwards.
My advice: leave the room.
Leave the city.
Leave the country.
But there's one men-only skill that works very well with female children. It's an important Guy Trait that rarely gets appreciated.
Women are always telling men that they never grow up. They say it as if it's a bad thing.
The day before writing this article, I visited a woman with whom I once worked. She had been arguing with her eight-year-old daughter for four hours. The little girl was lying on the floor, hammering her feet and fists on the parquet. The woman was giving her long lectures about Behaviour and Respect.
I sat down beside her and said: "I'm going to throw a watermelon off the roof to see what happens. It's going to explode everywhere. Then I'm going to pick up the bits and eat them."
The child stopped crying immediately and turned to face me. "Eww," she said. "That's so gross. Can I watch?"
I said: "Sure."
She sprang to her feet, tantrum forgotten, and followed me out of the room.
"How did you come up with that?" her mother asked. "What a brilliant way to capture a child's attention."
I wondered whether to tell her the truth. I didn't come up with that idea to distract her daughter. I really had been planning to throw a watermelon off the roof to see what happens. Is there anything more fun than mindless destruction? It just seemed to me such an obvious way to pass a weekend afternoon.
But I decided to keep my mouth shut. She wouldn't understand. It's a guy thing.
To learn more on how become popular with the kids, visit our columnist at www.vittachi.com.