The dumbest thing I've done as a dad: Dudes confess their fatherhood blunders (and their joys)

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Father's Day has arrived, which means lots of hastily-purchased cards, promises to mow the grass, and a little bit of self-reflection for dads. Here's a group of fathers talking about the highs and lows of being a dad. 

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Chris P.

Father of 3. Dad behind http://www.diaperdude.com/

What's the dumbest thing you've done as a dad?

I cannot believe I am going to admit this but I accidentally locked my toddler in the car when we were at the supermarket. It was horrible! Back in the day car remotes did not work like they do today. Somehow the remote fell out of my pocket and as I got out of the car the remote locked the doors and fell onto the seat. At first I panicked. I locked eyes with my son and thankfully he was fine. I had a lot of distracting to do while he was in his car seat staring at me. I probably looked like a fool talking to the car window but I wanted to do anything I could to make him feel safe and comfortable. Fortunately we had a spare at home and my wife ran them right over to me. Thankfully today's cars have a safety feature to avoid locking your keys in the car. This is definitely a moment I would like to forget.

What do you enjoy the most about fatherhood?

I love being able to be a kid again. My kids love theme parks, rollercoasters, waterslides, the beach, baseball games the list goes on and on. It makes me feel so great to share moments like this with each of them.

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Sean A.

Dad of 2. Writer.

What's the dumbest thing you've done as a dad?

I think the dumbest thing I've ever done as a dad was, when my kids were very young, thinking that once they got older, things would go "back to normal." It's true that things changed - they stopped crying all hours of the night, learned to use the bathroom, they can fix themselves a sandwich if they want one - but I was so young and naive that I didn't really comprehend that normal would mean forever putting them first. And that's something I have to re-learn every day, I think.

What do you enjoy the most about fatherhood?

The thing I enjoy the most is when my kids talk to me. It's weird, because early on you start to get an idea of their personalities, and you wonder if you're just projecting things onto them. But they get older, and their language skills get more developed, and you realize they really do have their own opinions.

So I like to listen to what they think, and I like to answer questions they have. We love talking about science and how things work. They come up with the best stories. They're hilarious. I really like getting to know them more as they get older. Playing a game with them or doing an activity is really just another way of getting to know them better. I've always been of the mind that parents should be parents first, instead of being friends to their kids. But when you can be both, that's the best. 

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Robert C.

Dad of 1. Teacher.

What's the dumbest thing you've done as a dad?

One thing I do, and have done repeatedly, which is why I think it's dumb, is that I have taken at least fourteen or thirty-two major shots to the dome. It always happens the same way. Rosie bends down to get something, a toy, a pen, her tax forms, whatever, and I bend down to help her, and WHAM! She stands up suddenly, or better yet jumps up, and her little toddler head drills me right in the jaw, or the eye socket, or the temple, or the forehead, and it. Friggin. Hurts.

I never boxed, and after kindergarten I never got into fights, and I know now that I would probably not be terribly good at either of those things, because my two-year-old has basically TKO'd me several times with an enthusiastic hop and her titanium skull. She, of course, is fine every time this happens, thank goodness. And folks, I just keep right on doing it. Dumb. I'm going to get a concussion. On the plus side, she has war stories already. "Daddy, remember when I hit you in the head the other day?"

What do you enjoy the most about fatherhood?

My favorite aspects of fatherhood are the little moments where my daughter is just bubbling over with joy, or laughing, or really just having a great time. When she's happy, I'm happy, generally, and that's really a gift. I love our time together as a family, just the three of us at home eating meals or hanging out. And then everything is sepia toned and there's a heartwarming jingle, and--oh wait, I just turned our life into a Folgers commercial.

But honestly, there really are moments when for some little window of time it's all just very lovely and everything's okay, and those are moments to cherish. I had lots of those moments with Alexis, my wife, before we had Rosie, but I have more of those moments now that Rosie is in my life. Fatherhood continues to teach me that the more genuinely giving and selfless I can be for this little person, the better of a person I will become, and while that's a heck of a lot of work, it's very much worth the effort.

One last thing I know I enjoy are the moments when she surprises us. She learns something new, or makes a connection, or recites a line from one of her favorite books, or busts out some new song she learned, or she just says or does something bizarre. Human beings are weird, and it's nice to be reminded of just how wonderful that weirdness can be. Especially toddlers. Toddler weird is a horse of a different color.

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Jonathan B.

Father of 1. Comedian - flexiblecomedy.com

What's the dumbest thing you've done as a dad?

Joke Answer: I showed my daughter YouTube, and now all she wants to do is watch videos of people opening up plastic eggs filled with cruddy Disney figurines.

Honest Answer: The dumbest things I've done in my 2 1/2 years as a Dad is not listening to my wife. Not only is she a naturally wonderful, loving, and selfless parent, but she also has her Masters in Early Childhood Education.  So I'm dumb to not take her advice when it comes to our daughter. Dads do dumb things, and they always will, but having such a smart and supportive partner makes me a better parent on a daily basis.

What do you enjoy the most about fatherhood?

Joke Answer: The sweet yearly Father's Day Ties!

Honest Answer: The constant reminders of wonderful life and the world around us can be. I get to have experiences again like it was the first time. She gets excited to see bunnies or birds come into our yard, she freaks out when we see swings or a sliding board, and rolling down a grassy hill is just pure bliss. These are all things I used to just tune out or forgot about, but she reminds me of how such simple things can bring you incredible joy!

So it looks like both of the ladies in my life have taught me tremendous lessons.

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Rory K.

Father of 2. College professor.

What's the dumbest thing you've done as a dad?

When Sadie was about three we were at the grocery store checking out. Both Carolyn and I thought that the other had an eye on her. She wandered over and sat down in the patio furniture display (about seven registers over) because she wanted to look at it. Bad move: Always know who has kiddo duty.

What do you enjoy the most about fatherhood?

For as much as we don't want them to get bigger, watching them mature and become little people is the best. Their personalities develop more fully, they get interests and desires. That is the fun part!

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Ben M.

Father of 1. Finance manager.

What's the dumbest thing you've done as a dad?

One of the dumbest things I did was leave without the diaper bag--on purpose. I did clear this action with my wife, but she claims no responsibility. Our daughter had to get the booster flu shot so it was a quick trip to the doctor’s office. I think I had a diaper and some wipes (the dad pack). My daughter was notorious for blowouts at this age, but we were only going to be gone for half an hour. It took her about two minutes after checking in to unload in her pants. In the car seat. I took her to the changing room to assess the damage. It was more than I was prepared for. I had to leave her in the seat, carry her to the exam room and pull up her pant leg for the shot. I’m sure the nurse thought I was a stellar dad.

What do you enjoy the most about fatherhood?

Most of the time, you don’t have to try that hard. You can act like a kid. You can make up goofy stories or questions. You just have to be there. Like the Woody Allen quote, 80 percent of success is showing up. Yes, it can be stressful, exhausting, confusing, maddening… but that’s not the norm.

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Brandon S.

Father of 1. College professor.

WHAT'S THE DUMBEST THING YOU'VE DONE AS A DAD?

Thinking I could make progress on my dissertation when I had an under-6 month old.

What do you enjoy the most about fatherhood?

It's hard to move past the cliches. I enjoy watching him explore and learn most of all.

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Chris B.

Father of 3. Dad blogger at www.dadncharge.com

WHAT'S THE DUMBEST THING YOU'VE DONE AS A DAD?

Dumbest thing I have done as a dad is taking my son out in a canoe on choppy waters by myself, trying to make lasting memories with him. I wrote about it on my blog in the post called "The Day I Almost Killed My Son" (Ed. note: Glad he's OK! Note to self- avoid canoes.)

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY THE MOST ABOUT FATHERHOOD?

What I enjoy most about fatherhood is seeing the kids grow into the individuals they are becoming. While they have all come from my wife and I , they have all become talented in their own unique ways. That is amazing to watch as they grow up.

Jake L.

Father of 1. Actor/Director.

WHAT'S THE DUMBEST THING YOU'VE DONE AS A DAD?

I can't really think of a "dumb" thing, per se, that I've done as a father. I guess the thing that comes to mind is more of a funny happening rather than something more boneheaded.

We were on our way somewhere, driving up a winding road, when out of the corner of my eye I saw a car start to creep into our lane. I swerved a bit, probably out of instinct as opposed to necessity, and, again, out of instinct, said "damnit!" Well, we got a bit down the road and what do I hear cone out of the backseat of the car? "Damnit!" coming out of a little 4 year olds mouth. However, to be fair, I often wonder if this was a dumb thing or a teaching moment, as he said the word sporadically over the next few weeks... in perfect context. (He's since stopped and knows of the word as a "momma and papa" word, for the record.)

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY THE MOST ABOUT FATHERHOOD?

This is a tough one, as I feel like I haven't found the thing I enjoy most just yet. I do, however, know what I enjoy most RIGHT NOW at this stage of my sons life and my tenure as a father. I love watching my son grow and talk, constantly chatting with adults in full sentences or throwing some game towards girls (and women, actually. This kid? Many things, but not ageist). I love watching him paint and build, having conversations between his toys (in character!) and then tossing that to the side and grabbing his pirate gear, wanting to explore the backyard for Captain Hook and the other rotten pirates. It's an amazing experience. And it's kind of scary, too, but in a good way... in the best way possible, actually.

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Andy Shaw

Father of 3. Comedian. Digital Marketer. Author of Instafather.com. Not a great golfer.

WHAT'S THE DUMBEST THING YOU'VE DONE AS A DAD?

With three kids 2 and under, I can hardly wait for all the opportunities to do dumb things for years to come. How will I traumatize them? How will I cause them to go to counseling? For now, I've still done a lot of dumb, dumb stuff. Example:

When my son was a newborn, we had all the typical sleep deprivation.  It was to the point that if you asked me "Hey Andy, how ya doing?", I'd be asleep standing up before I could respond. This also caused a lot of bewildered, frantic, half-awake moments. Case in point: One night, I woke up in bed after what I thought was hours. Where was Elliott? The last I remembered, he was on my chest, and they beat it into you at the hospital that if you fall asleep when your kid's on you, you might as well go straight to the gallows. I can't find him anywhere. "Where'd he go? Where's Elliott?" I'm telling my wife, who I'm sure thought I was crazy as I rifled through the comforter because I was sure he was at the base of the bed, suffocating. 

He wasn't. He was in his bassinet. Beside the bed. Where I had placed him. About 30 minutes prior. That's how far out of it I was. 

Other dumb dad moment: Any of the times I have fallen down stairs while holding him. It's happened several times. He is always fine. I always take the brunt of it. He's the one who cries.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY THE MOST ABOUT FATHERHOOD?

This changes for me all the time. It might be when I come home from work and my son runs over yelling, "Dada!" Or, lately, when I have all three kids snuggled up on me and you know you're doing exactly what you're supposed to be doing.

But I think the thing I enjoy most is that fatherhood has a way of making you feel like you're a better man that you thought you ever could be. I've never been a "man's man." I don't even like beer. But I'm a man's man when it comes to being a dad, so I'll take it.

Happy Father's Day, everyone! Thanks to all the dads who took some time to write responses, too! So many great dads out there.