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Chad (The Dad): Using Pets as Babysitters and Teaching Table Manners

Chad Harris, a stand-up comic and regular contributor to The Mystery Hour, hits the stage as Chad the Dad. This month, he’s answering questions about navigating life in 417-land—from a dad’s perspective.

By Chad Harris

Apr 2018

Photos by Brandon Alms

My kids think throwing food is hilarious. How can I convince them to behave?

Throwing food is a cathartic release at any age. It’s a taboo yet simple act of rebellion against social dining norms and should be exercised wisely. Encouraging children to apply the “time and place” rule is an essential learning step that applies far beyond flinging French fries. Correcting the behavior can be achieved by following these steps:

First, establish dinner table dominance. When your child flings a pea, respond by dumping your lasagna plate directly into their lap. They’ll soon learn there’s always someone who will step up the game, and they should be prepared to accept the consequences of a full-scale food fight.

Two, teach proper form. Nothing is more disappointing than a carrot meant for grandma hitting the floor. If your kid is missing the mark, take a minute for near and far target practice. Point out that different foods possess unique weights, shapes and viscosities that affect aerial precision. 

Three, encourage technique. Subtly tossing an unwanted onion into a sibling’s plate while going unnoticed takes more skill (and pays off in the long run) than a handful of mashed potatoes pitched across the room. 

Mastering these techniques with your child shows that you are invested in their future and demonstrates that you are committed to helping them develop a life skill that can be enjoyed well into adulthood. 

Spring is here. Do you have suggestions for outdoor kid activities?

While the weather is improving, it can be tricky in 417-land to find a good day to get outside. If conditions are right, I’d recommend unplugging and unraveling with a kite—unless you’re terrible with a kite, like I am. Then I’d suggest going to watch kites fly at your neighborhood park or inside Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park. Those people know how to “elevate string.” That’s a hip phrase I just made up for flying a kite. (Try using it with the kids.)

If you really want to put off the “cool uncle” vibe, show up to these locations with a drone. Drones are available almost anywhere (in fact, I just stepped on one) and come in a wide variety of prices. Fire it up and see how many kites you can take out before the cops arrive.

Not into property damage? Take some time to plant a tree with your kids. Trees are simple to plant, improve air quality and provide shade during the coming summer months. They also shed leaves and are hard to mow around. Change of plans. Maybe plant a tree in your neighbor’s yard (just across the property line). 

Is it okay to let the family dog watch the kids while the game is on?

Good question. Scholars believe the Chinese used dogs to sit with kids during the Tang and Song dynasties (A.D. 618 to 1279) while parents watched ancient football or cuju matches. When the home team underperformed, parents took a moment to yell “shih-tzu!” to the dogs as a reminder to keep the children in line. Thus, forming the basis for our current habit of swearing when our favorite team blows a big play. 

To answer your question, yes, I think dog-sitting is acceptable but does depend upon the breed you choose. If we are learning from dog-sitting past, I would recommend choosing the breed of dog carefully to prevent the next generation of sports fans from yelling “silky Shetland sheepdog!” 2,000 years from now. Then again, maybe that would be an improvement over our current cache of curse words.

Remember, keeping the kiddos and canines within sight is always prudent. Today’s dogs aren’t as capable as they once were and still need adult supervision while your ocular cavities are occupied with the televised game.

ASK CHAD THE DAD

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Chad (the Dad) is a husband, father and comic who realizes it takes a village to raise a child, yet parents can’t dump their kids in the village square where the village idiot becomes a bad influence. He maintains that you should raise your own damn kids to make the world a better place—have fun, but don’t mess it up for the rest of us. Send your questions to him at standup@chadthedadharris.com

Disclaimer: C(TD) is not a parenting expert, holds no relevant degrees and claims not to provide helpful advice.