In the 1989 award-winning film Parenthood, Tod, a troubled youth played by Keanu Reeves, has a surprising moment of blunt wisdom when he proclaims to his girlfriend’s mother, Karen Buckman played by Mary Steenburgen, "You know, Mrs. Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, or drive a car. Hell, you need a license to catch a fish! But they’ll let any [beep]be a father." That one line from Parenthood has stuck with me for more than 20 years.
I know, I know, the mind is a terrible thing to waste, however, Tod was right in that there is no test for fatherhood, or even motherhood for that matter. There are books to read, magazines and blogs devoted to the subject, expert opinions that often clash with the opinions of other experts or get revised a few years later (oops, sorry) and, of course, the advice of friends and family. Yet there is no test, no license, no degree for the biggest responsibility most of us will ever face – the growth and development of another human being.
For the past three or so years, I’ve tried to be the best father I can to Reina, but I am keenly aware that there is always room for improvement. Consequently, as I look to 2011 and the fabulous 4s (or is it fantastic 4s?), I resolve to be a better father. True, I’m not sure how I’ll do that considering the stupendous level of awesomeness that my daughter thinks I already possess (baba is still the only one in the home who can reach the
top shelf), but there are books to consult, experts to heed and I can always ask one of my parents for advice.
So forget about the extra pounds you think you will shed, those language lessons you’ve been meaning to review or that effort to clean your desk off, and join me in resolving to be a better parent in 2011. If we succeed, it’s probably the greatest achievement we will most likely never be acknowledged for.