Sunday, June 11, 2006

June 11, 2006 -- Rules of fatherhood honed by trial and error

The hamster died (note to mother: not the rabbit).

This is not code. The hamster really did die, or is nearly dead as I write this. I’m pretty sure it’s not going to make it through the night. And come morning, we’ll have another addition
to the Kennard family pet cemetery located under the tree house in the back yard.

The running total of four-legged family members who have checked out is four: a cat, two bunnies and hamster No. 1, aka Hamtaro. The fish just get flushed — and I’ve lost track
of how many anyway.

The most recent dearly departed, Hamwise Gamgee, was taking his
last labored breaths early in the day Saturday.

It’s a shame, kind of. We just picked up a really cool hamster habitat
at a garage sale over in the Shenandoah neighborhood yesterday.

Already the kids are talking about what kind of hamster to get next. I believe they are coming to grips with death in the animal kingdom — at least the Kennard animal kingdom.

I suppose with each passing it gets a little easier to accept. I’ll tell you, though, the first couple of fatalities were pretty hard.

Little girls don’t like it when their furry little bunny dies.

I suppose it’s only fitting that the most recent death happened during the Father’s Day season. I firmly believe that it is a father’s duty to dispose of the family pet. That’s what my dad taught me and I’m sure, his dad before that.

Little sons and daughters need to see a father deal with death in a mature way. Even if it means wrapping a hamster up in a band aid box and placing it gently into the ground next to the rhododendron bushes.

Over the years, I’ve figured out a few other things that fathers need to do. I’ve kind of compiled this list myself, since I’ve never found a really comprehensive manual on the subject of fatherhood. In fact, I suppose if there were such a thing, the first chapter would instruct the reader to “pitch this manual — children do not come with instruction.”

No. 1: You can hold your little girl’s hand forever, but sons grow out of it at about age 11.

No. 2: Kisses are a good thing. Refer to No. 1.

No. 3: You cannot be naked in your house — ever.

No. 4: You cannot use the bathroom in your house — ever. Adendum: All bathrooms belong to the children.

No. 5: Never, never, never use the words, “I don’t care,” especially if your wife is around.

No. 6. Fathers know everything. (For father’s only:,,,

No. 7. While it is not important that you know the meaning of the following words, it is important that you learn when to use them: bushing, bearing, carburetion, relay switch, sending unit, manifold. Let me illustrate.

Wife: “What is all that smoke coming out of the back of the minivan?”

Your answer: “I’m sure it’s just the manifold bearing, although the carburetion relay switch in these cars sometimes has a hard time communicating with the sending unit after 60,000 miles. I’ll have a look at it when we get home.” 

Young daughter: “Dad sure is smart.” 

No. 8. Get to know your mechanic really well. Addendum: Open a super secret savings account for auto repair.

No. 9. Ladders, boats, BB guns, pocket knives, any wooden object over four feet tall, electric outlets and stray cats are tools of Satan designed to draw you in and cause bodily harm. Also, while the spin cycle on a washing machine looks really cool, you can never grab an article of clothing until the machine comes to a complete stop.

The former has little to do with fatherhood, unless you are with your child at the time of the accident. Addendum: Children learn most swear words from their fathers.

No. 10. Use the following phrases as often as possible: “Because that’s the way it is,” “What makes you think I did that?” “I’m sorry,” “Don’t worry, we can always get a new one,” “I’m sure everything will be OK tomorrow.”

I know there are other rules of fatherhood that need to be addressed.

For instance, we didn’t even talk about the size of an extra large pizza compared to the size of a 6-year-old’s tummy, but like I said earlier, most of this stuff is trial and error anyway.

By the way, anybody know where to find a good eulogy for a hamster?