I’m sure that every father has a list like this. We want our children to know how to do certain things to better prepare them for life. If you live in Arkansas, it might revolve heavily around NASCAR skills, like tire-changing and mullet-growing. Or if you live in Nunavut, you might have dads teaching things like ice-sculpting or furry-animal-skinning.
Living neither in the civilization-deprived middle of nowhere nor Nunavut, I have a different set of priorities for my daughter.
- The rear naked choke. This neither as sexy nor as naked as it sounds. It consists of clamping on to an opponent’s back like a knapsack and securing a lock around your opponent’s throat. It can render someone unconscious in seconds and dead in minutes. Abby should have it down by the time that she is 4.
- Cordless drill operation. There are few sounds in the world that I hate more than that of a poorly placed driver bit stripping the head out of a screw. It represents countless hours of frustrating work with a pair of pliers and an elaborate array of swearwords. Abby will learn how to put her body into the process of driving in a screw and be the envy of every man with a Black and Decker. Target age: 6.
- Toilet plunging. In this house, we operate on the “you plugged it, you plunge it” rule. Abby will learn it by age 7.
- Tolkien appreciation. This applies to both the books and Peter Jackson’s movies. I expect that she will also achieve a workable knowledge of Elvish, Khuzdul, and Old Entish. Basic fluency by age 9.
- Trivial Pursuit dominance. She needs to carry on the Stirling tradition of being obnoxiously good at remembering menial facts and figures. I will be quizzing her on all six of the categories, though I think I will need to bring in some outside help for the orange one; it has ever been the Stirling Achilles heel. 99% accuracy or better by age age 10.
- Target shooting. If she can’t hit a pop can at 100 feet with a pellet gun, how will she ever hope to avoid the clutches of the undead during the Zombie Apocalypse? Headshots at 30 yards should be consistent by 11 years old.