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Is it bad that I originally wanted my first kid to be aborted?

James AltucherJames Altucher, Blogger, author, social media,... (more)
Is  it bad that I wanted my now ex-wife to have an abortion before she had  my first kid? I don’t know what it was, other than stark fear. I was the  worst husband. I would go out all night and play poker during the nine  months she was pregnant.  I couldn’t handle the fact I was about to be a  father. When she had the baby and after everyone (mother and baby) was  given drugs to make them sleep I went out to play poker again. Ingrid,  at the Mayfair Club on 25th street, refused to let me in. “Go  to your wife,” she said, “she just had a baby.” But I talked my way in  and even got a free meal out of it (the Mayfair had a great kitchen  until the whole operation was shut down by the police).

I used to pretend to run errands (“Whoops, we need more milk”) and  then sit in the café across the street and just read books until my ex  would call an hour or so later and say, “Where are you?” All I wanted to  do was read books and play games. But suddenly there was this tiny US  citizen lying in bed. A new US citizen who looked like an ugly midget,  who didn’t speak English, would cry all the time, and would occasionally  shit on the floor. Would you ever invite a stranger to come into your  house who had those qualities? Of course not.

Today I spoke to her, my oldest daughter.  I told her I loved her and  I held her hand when we crossed a parking lot so she wouldn’t get hurt.  I helped her buy a gift for a secret Santa thing she was in. She bought  the latest “Glee” album.  I looked at a comic book she was drawing and  told her it seemed to me like she was putting together a very  good  story and I was proud of her. I told her it sounded like a great  profession when she told me what she wanted to be when she grew up (“a  clown”).  She told me that being a clown was like “free money” you get  for making people laugh. Then I made her laugh by telling her stories  about when she was a little girl and used to run naked around the house,  giggling while I tried to catch her. I sang a song in the car to her,  as a joke, because she knows I can’t sing although I like to try.

I don’t know anything about being a good father. So why not be like everyone else and give some advice about it:

First, when they are babies:

A)     Eventually they walk. By the time they are 18 years old and  you have to kick them out of the house, they will probably be walking.  No worries.

B)      Eventually they will be potty trained. Don’t rush this! Let  them go in their diapers until they are begging to sit on the toilet.  Less work for you.

C)      Eventually they will read. Every kid I know (except for mine)  seems to have read the entire Harry Potter series by the time they were  four years old. Eventually kids learn to read. No rush.  If anything,  get them to read comic books.  Quick easy stories that they can absorb  in quantity.
And when they are a little older:

D)     Take them for walks in the middle of the night outside while  you are all in your pajamas. Takes them out of their comfort zone in a  relatively harmless fashion.  Particularly if you are living in a city.

E)      The less they go to school, the better. If they want to stay  home from school for a day or two and you can accommodate it, then  great.  Lets not forget that we all hated school when we were younger.  It was boring, the other kids are often evil, and its hard to sit still  for 45 minute stretches listening to an adult talk about stuff you’re  never going to remember. There is absolutely NOTHING they learn in  school before the age of 12 that they can’t learn later.

F)      Don’t travel with them. Traveling is boring, difficult,  frustrating, tiring for kids. There is nothing good about taking a kid  on vacation. All you are doing the entire vacation is preventing them  from drowning.

G)     Tell them lots of stories about mistakes you made as a kid.  Lets them know you aren’t perfect so they don’t have to be either.  Tell  them about the time you stole money from your parents and that’s why  you are now missing a finger (simulate lost finger).

H)     Make them laugh as much as possible. The only memories they  are going to have of you are either you making them cry or you making  them laugh. Prefer the latter. The best way I make my kids laugh is when  I threaten to beat the shit out of them. Then they laugh hysterically.

I)        I asked my kids what I’ve done that has made me a great  father and one of them said, “you aren’t strict” but I’m not sure if  this is a good thing or a bad thing. Maybe I should be more strict, like  setting a bedtime. But I fall asleep by 8pm every night so its hard to  enforce a bedtime.

J)       I don’t approve of them playing games of pure chance. Like  the card game “War”. I like them to play Connect 4, Monopoly, and a  version of chess where you just set the pawns up and whoever gets a pawn  to the other side first, wins. Games of pure chance waste great  opportunities to activate the neurons in the brain.

K)      I don’t approve of homework and don’t push them to do it. If  there’s consequences to not doing homework then they need to deal with  those consequences. But I’m happy to help them if they ask.

It feels weird writing these notes. Because what do I know?  I’ve  been absent for huge chunks of time while building different businesses.  I also never liked the morning routine with them. I used to wake up at  5am so I could go out for a coffee, newspaper reading, note-taking (and  Scrabble playing, with the other neighborhood fathers in similar  situations), and I wouldn’t return home until 8am, when I knew they’d  already be off to school.  I didn’t like the chaos of their morning  routine.

L)       Tell them you love them a lot. And always tell them they’re  beautiful.  You’d think that’s obvious but not every kid is told that.

I see my kids every other weekend now. And sometimes during the week.  But on a Sunday night, like tonight, after they leave (and the house  was a tornado of kid energy since their arrival Friday) I sit on their  empty beds (they have to make their beds and clean their room before  they leave). I look at the stuffed rhino  and stuffed elephant  respectively lying quietly on each pillow. I think back to when I was a  kid reading my comics late at night, Invasion of the Body Snatchers  stickers all over my wall, a globe of the world on my desk. My dad would  check in and say, “you ok?” And yeah, I always was.
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James Altucher
James Altucher 
Blogger, author, social media, investor, wall street and easie...