All parents live under a microscope in which our actions, attitudes and comments are subject to intense and early scrutiny. But it’s generally more dangerous for fathers since we’re the gender that engages in the more tasteless behaviors. I’ve been threatened with death if I teach the "pull my finger" gag and an accidentally pressed cell-phone key led to an answering machine recording of my belching contest with the kids.
These isolated examples aside, remember a few practical facts when you do play with the kids.
- Children have no "off" button, so they don’t know when to quit. Make the toddler laugh by chucking a wad of paper at his head and you’ll be inundated with paper wads until you’re ready to climb a wall. Know how to end something if you’re going to start.
- Children have no judgment, so all things for them are equal. You toss a playful wad of paper at them and you’re likely to get smacked with Great-Grandma’s heirloom vase. If you’re going to throw something, make sure it’s meant to be thrown.
- Children have no sense of time and place. All things being equal, they might think that Grandma might enjoy the fun by having that heirloom vase heaved at her head.
Perhaps the simplest way to remember these comes under the question, "will I regret this?" If so, move on.