Fellow humor writer Jenny Isenman recently offered her list of 40 things every mom needs to know by the time she's 40.
That got me to thinking about all the things that dads need to know, do, or have by the time they're 40. So here's my list, gleaned on my last 16 years of being a dad, and 45 years of being a son. But there are only 27 items, because Guys are simple and don't require as much stuff. Plus, I tend to ramble, and didn't have the space to get 40 items.
By 40-ish, dads should know, do, or have:
1. Three hammers. If you build stuff, you know that one hammer is not enough. If you live in a condo or apartment, then two hammers is acceptable.
2. A socket wrench set. You should also have a spark plug socket, even if you can't find the spark plugs in your car.
3. You should know how to find the spark plugs in your car.
4. Build something, whether it's a spice rack, a workbench, or an entire house.
5. Teach your kids to build something.
6. Teach your kids basic first aid, because you've never actually built anything before.
7.. Play catch with your kids, sons or daughters.
8. Take your kids to a baseball game.
9. Take your kids to another sporting event. It can be any sport you want, but every dad should still take his kids to a baseball game.
10. Instill in your child at a very early age the love of your favorite sports team. There is nothing wrong with making your child think you will love them less if they cheer for a division rival. (Note: Actually, that is very wrong. Please don't do that.)
11. Don't cringe when people call you "sir." They've been calling you that since you were 30.
12. Build a bookshelf. Bonus points if they're evenly spaced and level.
13. Fire a gun. You don't have to be a hunter, but you have to have pointed a firearm at something and pulled the trigger. Even if you're opposed to guns, go to a firing rang and squeeze off a few rounds, so you at least know what you're opposed to.
14. Go fishing. Bonus points if you actually catch something. More bonus points if you filet it and cook it.
15. Go camping. In a tent. Not an RV. Despite what the commercials say, sleeping in a hotel room on wheels is not camping.
16. An autographed piece of sporting paraphernalia. Whether it's a baseball, football, basketball, or any other piece of sporting gear, it needs to have a celebrity's autograph. And encased in one of those plastic boxes.
17. You should have a miter saw. (You don't actually need one, I do. My birthday is coming up, and I'm hoping my family will read this and get the hint.)
18. Driven at least one 1,000 mile car trip.
19. Threatened to turn the car around if the kids did not behave, or promised that there will be trouble if you have to stop the car.
20. Stood next to your child's room and hollered for him or her to come shut off their bedroom light.
21. Grilled steak or hamburgers on your grill. Chicken doesn't count. Veggie burgers definitely don't count.
22. Fretted about the thermostat setting. Declared that no one but you was allowed to touch it.
23. Told your kids or wife to "shut the door, we're not heating/cooling the outside."
24. Sat through interminable Disney movie after interminable Disney movie.
25. Cried at every Disney movie. Throw your back out trying to turn away so no one sees you.
26. Gotten a sports injury playing a sport you had no business playing at an age you had no business playing.
27. Have a tattoo. (Note: this is not actually necessary for every dad to have. I just want to get one, but my wife won't let me.)
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