As a dad, it can be hard being right all the time. People—a.k.a. my family—resent me for it. I’m a veritable encyclopedia. Knowledge courses through my veins. I know what’s what, man.
One of the side effects of knowing so much great, absolutely right, and definitely correct things is that other people get tired of being wrong. I’ve noticed that if I try to tell someone—a.k.a. my daughter—what to do, she gets combative.
My secret dad hack is to pick my battles. I’ll let her win a couple just to make her feel like she’s not completely powerless against my all-knowing intellect.
Case in Point (Part 1): The Background for My Dinner Table Anecdote
Here is my question: does it matter how a task is completed so long as it gets done?
A couple days ago my nine-year-old daughter went in to a coughing fit at the table. I’m not sure why—sometimes between school and extracurriculars I have a hard time keeping track of what’s new in her life. Like, maybe she picked up a nasty smoking habit. Maybe smoking is “cool” again.
Anyway, as you probably know, children don’t cover their mouths when they cough. It’s almost as though they don’t realize that coughs are just germ-disseminating displays of force. Great power, great responsibility and all that.
So, my daughter started coughing at the dinner table. That’s what my story is about, I’m pretty sure. There she is, coughing her little lungs inside out, and that’s when it happens. From her uncovered mouth came a fountain of tiny pieces of chewed-up food that rained down upon the table.
It was gross.
Case in Point (Part 2): In Which I Conclude My Anecdote
My first response was, “cover your mouth!” I like sea food, if you know what I mean.
As you can no doubt remember, I am a very smart, always-correct human dad. Begrudgingly, she complied.
My second response was, “clean up the table, please.”
Again, my wisdom was on full display. She knew it was her duty to clean up after herself. However, I had just been right twice in a row. She couldn’t let it slide.
She started eating the coughed-up food chunks.
Now that was gross. Really gross.
Do you know what I did? Nothing. I didn’t say a word. I just let her eat it. It was kind of like when the dog barfs on the carpet and then starts eating it. It’s gross, but it saves you some work.
Plus, she needed the win.
The Thrilling Conclusion of My Case in Point (Part 3): Is That Good Dadding Technique?
The way I see it, dads have to choose their battles. It’s tough being so right so often. Giving other people a chance to “be right” allows them to see the errors of their ways. Yes, she got to stay gross while eating, but there’s no way she could have enjoyed the experience.
Her victory was pyrrhic, which is a word that I know and use because I’m so tremendous. I have the best words!
So, that’s my secret dad hack. Not so secret now, though. Dang. My question is: would most dads have done the same? Let me know how you would have handled that in the comments below!