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The Dadly Virtues: Adventures from the Worst Job You'll Ever Love
     

The Dadly Virtues: Adventures from the Worst Job You'll Ever Love

by Jonathan V. Last (Editor)
 

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From the all-star cast who brought you The Seven Deadly Virtues comes a book with a look at the good life… or the crazy-stressful-overwhelmed life… of a father.

The Dadly Virtues is a tongue-in-cheek collection of encouragement and guidance for any stage of fatherhood, from pacifying babies to prepping for senior prom, from cutting the cord to

Overview


From the all-star cast who brought you The Seven Deadly Virtues comes a book with a look at the good life… or the crazy-stressful-overwhelmed life… of a father.

The Dadly Virtues is a tongue-in-cheek collection of encouragement and guidance for any stage of fatherhood, from pacifying babies to prepping for senior prom, from cutting the cord to getting the first, “Best Grandpa” t-shirt. P.J. O’Rourke sets the stage with the chapter, “What Do Men Get from Fatherhood? Besides What They Put In …” and then is followed by:
•Matthew Continetti’s, “Newborn Terror: The Moment You Realize that ‘Bundle of Joy’ Is a Euphemism for Something Very Different.”
•Stephen F. Hayes’ “Siblings: The Best Gift You’ll Ever Give Your Kids.”
•Jonah Goldberg’s “Get Your Kid a Dog: The Moral Case for Pets.”
•Tucker Carlson’s “In Praise of Adventure: How to Fill a Child’s Life with Excitement and Danger (without Getting Them Killed).”
•Michael Graham’s, “Dating: Enjoy the Movie and Please Keep the Impregnation to a Minimum.”
•Christopher Caldwell’s “College: It’s Not as Bad as You Think; It’s Worse.”
•Andrew Ferguson’s “Emerging Adults and Empty Nesters: Just When You Had Fatherhood All Figured Out.”
•Toby Young’s “The Dark Side: Bad Parenting and the Things We Think, but Do Not Say.”
•Joseph Epstein’s “Thanks, Grandpa: Grandfatherhood and the Spirit of the Age.”
•And more.

Father-to-be, two-time-dad, or granddad, each essay will make you laugh and, at the same time, reinforce your commitment to the virtuous—the dadly—life.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“To their kids, all fathers must eventually seem conservative. And old-fashioned, and perhaps even boring. But, politically speaking, is there a uniquely conservative way to be a dad? Weekly Standard senior writer Jonathan V. Last has edited an essay collection by 17 conservative writers, policy wonks and entertainers, all offering advice and reflections on the business of fatherhood.” — Carlos Lozada, Washington Post (May 7, 2015)

“The book is a compilation of stories about fatherhood and is a refreshing change over all the books out there written from women’s perspective of parenting.” —Dr. Helen Smith, PJ Media (March 15, 2015

“Some of the country’s most highly-respected conservative journalists and opinion makers have come together and penned a new book.  While these journalists are best known for their writings on political matters, the subject of this new book is something far more important.  Parenting.  More specifically, fatherhood.” — Dan Joseph, MRC TV (May 7, 2015)

In the Fraternity of Dad, children haze their sires, who become men. Maybe. With one exception, each of the contributors to The Dadly Virtues is a member of the Frat of Dad and has stories about what he learned, what he wishes he’d known, and what he still doesn’t know.

The book is arranged chronologically, from new fathers to grandfathers, but you should start with the final essay, Joseph Epstein’s reflections on being a single father and then helping raise his grandchildren. Amongst the frat, Epstein is the man, a mensch, the incredibly cool alumnus everybody wants to be—or at least write as well as. —Mike Hubbard, Ricochet

The Dadly Virtues takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to a subject with serious societal ramifications. It arrives at a time when fathers, and men in general, are often portrayed as bumbling and clueless—and, as Last notes in his introduction, ‘only 69 percent of kids (in America) live in a home with two parents.’ Do be aware that it contains some language that’s probably best not shared with younger children.”

“The book covers all stages of fatherhood: expecting and experiencing a first child’s birth; seeing one’s family expand; dealing with children in relation to religion, athletics, college, dating, marriage and moving out on their own or back home; and eventually becoming a grandfather.”

“The readers who might benefit most from the book are those about to be fathers. Describing it as ‘part instructional guide, part meditation, part war journal,’ Last writes: ‘It is, frankly, the book I wish I’d had back when my first child, Cody, was born.’” —Alan Wallace, TribLive

“In the best-selling 2014 book The Seven Deadly Virtues, editor Jonathan V. Last makes the case for gratitude as the as the best of the virtues, surpassing justice, curiosity, prudence and all others.” —Marty Wiggins, Tyler Morning Telegraph

“What author Jonathan Last has assembled here is a distillation of what it means to be a father, told through the stories of fathers who happen to be gifted writers, as well as being absolutely hilarious.  Each chapter has its share of funny war stories, but each also has some deep insights into the ups and downs of raising kids. There is timeless wisdom in these comical stories. Plus, this book has an essay by Matt Labash who many claim is the funniest writer in America these days. But don’t be surprised if your eyes get misty at the closing chapter on becoming a good grandfather.” —Sue Randleman, Crossville Chroncile

"In the new book The Dadly Virtues, fathers - from all walks of life and from all stages of family life - share their insights about what being a father means to them. And they do it with a liberal dose of irreverent humor. . . . Every journey needs a journal, and The Dadly Virtues is an excellent collection of journal entries about the fatherhood journey.  The book makes you think, laugh and remember; you can’t ask for much more than that." —Wayne Parker, About.com

“Depending on the author, the humor ranges from quiet dry wit to don’t-drink-your-coffee-while-reading-because-you-will-snort-coffee-through-your-nose funny. P. J. O’Rourke’s chapter on how fatherhood turns men into adults will make you chuckle. Tucker Carlson’s exploration on filling your children’s lives with excitement and danger will make you laugh. So will Toby Young’s on bad parenting, Andrew Ferguson’s on empty nests, Rob Long’s on marriage, and Joseph Epstein’s on being a grandparent.”

“The chapters are not just about jokes. Each dispenses wisdom about some aspect of fatherhood. Any dad who had gone through “the Talk” on sex with their children will identify with the embarrassment experienced by Matt Labash. You may not be as into shared experiences in television watching with your children as James Lileks, but he reminds you of some shared experience with your children.”

“Fathers who have been through the experiences related by the authors will nod in agreement. Fathers who have yet to go through some aspect of fatherhood outlined will get useful pointers. The Dadly Virtues is out in time for Father’s Day. It is a book with application past Father’s Day. This book is one that will resonate throughout the year.” —Mark Lardas, Galveston County Daily News (June 7, 2015)

“What do you get when you assemble an all-star cast of writers who have collectively experienced the many terrors and triumphs of fatherhood and have lived to write about it? You end up with The Dadly Virtues: Adventures From the Worst Job You’ll Ever Love. As the subtitle suggests, this book is a tongue-in-cheek portrait of the gory glory of fatherhood, containing plenty of side-splitting anecdotes and cultural critique with a dash of philosophical profundity. The editor, Jonathan Last, likens the book to ‘something of a Swiss army knife: part instructional guide, part meditation, part war journal’ (4) … . As a recent inductee to the fraternity of fatherhood, I am personally weary of the many formulaic books I have seen that treat fatherhood as though it’s a science to be conquered. If you’re like me, you’ll agree that the unfiltered and personal nature of The Dadly Virtues is its greatest strength. Last and company portray fatherhood less like a science and more like an art form in which hapless amateurs creep toward mastery through a process of trial and error. With each chapter, you’ll be treated to a strikingly intimate and refreshingly witty take on the real-life rigors and joys of fatherhood… . The Dadly Virtues is a refreshing look at the time-worn institution of fatherhood. After reading it, those of you who aren’t dads will wonder if you should ever become one, while those of us who are will wonder why we didn’t start sooner. In the words of Last, ‘If you aren’t otherwise engaged in some duty that precludes it—say, the priesthood—and you have the opportunity, then you should be a father. There is nothing more vexing, exhausting, noble, or manly. It’s the worst job you’ll ever love’ (15)… . Often side-splitting, sometimes tear-jerking, and always riveting, The Dadly Virtues will resonate with any father or father-to-be.” — Timothy Kleiser, the Gospel Coalition

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781599474892
Publisher:
Templeton Press
Publication date:
05/18/2015
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
875,795
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Dadly Virtues

Adventures from the Worst Job You'll Ever Love


By Jonathan V. Last

Templeton Press

Copyright © 2015 Templeton Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-59947-489-2



CHAPTER 1

What Do Men Get from Fatherhood?

Besides What They Put In ... P. J. O'Rourke


Babies are output. Input must be considered.

The single strongest motivation, object, aim, intent, and goal of men between the ages of Nintendo Wii obsession and wheeled walkers is to do a thing that makes babies (or a thing that, in the abstract, is similar to it).

Thus we already know what men got out of fatherhood even if, "conceptionally speaking," a turkey baster was involved.

But that is fatherhood in the technical sense. Not that technical sense isn't necessary to fatherhood. Correctly installing the Graco SnugRide infant seat in the back of your minivan requires an advanced degree in mechanical engineering from MIT.

There are, however, general as well as specialized aspects to fatherhood. Generally, "fatherhood" requires a father. A father who is present and accounted for and actively engaged in raising his kids. Or her kids, because nowadays a father may be of the mother gender, just as a mother may be of the father gender, and the kids, for all I know, are transgender. Believe me, it doesn't make any difference. When it's 3:00 a.m. and you're trying to burp a colicky baby while It's Sew Easy is on PBS and Rebecca Kemp Brent is putting the final touches on a tucked bolster pillow and you can't find the remote to change channels, sex will be the last thing on your mind.

(Some advice: Try holding the baby upside-down and kissykissy-wissy on itsum-bitsome's tummy-ummy. That might earn you a belch, and hence some peace and quiet. Or the kid might—mercifully—throw up on the Bugs Bunny bedroom slippers you got for Father's Day. Or you might find the TV remote, which baby has been teething on, and shake it loose.)

One thing men do not get from fatherhood is much sleep. When the worry about the baby crying ceases, the worry about the baby not breathing begins. Then, as baby grows, there are midnight coughs and midnight colds, midnight bed wets, midnight climbings into bed with you (followed by midnight bed wets), midnight demands for a drink of water, midnight fears of things in the closet, midnight snacks, midnight sneaks to the Nintendo, and, before you know it, baby is sixteen and has a driver's license and it's midnight and baby isn't home yet.

So what's in this for me?

Your manhood—or your social construct of male identity, or whatever—has been affirmed. You got someone knocked up. You are a big, swinging turkey baster.

And right here is where many fathers stop. Tempting. And it's probably tempting to mothers to let fathers stop right here, too. Mothers have myriad roles to play in life—nurturer, comforter, healer, educator, inspiration, example, sole support, saint, next president of the United States. Men bump and run.

Men have only one role. They provide a sperm cell who goes where men want to go but takes it to the next level. After that, men are dispensable and can drink, smoke, talk sports, commit crimes, and fight wars.

Fatherhood gives men something to do. If it were not for fathers, real fathers, the world outside the home would be one big cigar bar full of drunk vets with PTSD planning bank heists. And there would be—although women would deny that this is possible—even more sports-talk radio.

Fatherhood introduces men to worry. Worry is not something that comes naturally to men or something we can learn to do on our own. Men know about fear. We can be afraid to jump off the roof of a speeding SUV onto a pile of discarded mattresses. But we have a cure for that. "Hold my beer. Now watch this!"

It would never occur to us to worry about the speeding SUV or the pile of discarded mattresses. We don't get worried until we become fathers. Our woman begins to grow huge. She acquires strange appetites. We worry. Is she going to eat us?

Then we worry that we have to go into the hospital, even though we're feeling fine—indeed quite fine, after three slugs from the vodka bottle when contractions began.

And, more worrisome yet, they want us to go into the delivery room despite the fact that we're not pregnant and no matter how much we explain that we're a lot better at pacing up and down hospital waiting rooms, smoking Lucky Strikes, and paging through decades-old copies of Field & Stream than we are at helping to deliver babies. Which—and this is a real worry—they also want us to do. (More advice: Stay up by your woman's head! Stay up by her head! For God's sake, stay up by her head!)

We worry that the mom is going to die. We worry that the baby is going to die. We worry that, if we don't get more vodka, we're going to die. Welcome to the next twenty-eight years of living, including grad school and the couple of years when the kid moves back in with you "while I find myself."

I say you're in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with the rest of the kids your age, and I say go to Williamsburg and look for yourself there.

Fatherhood introduces men to responsibility, which has also previously been a stranger. No matter how many responsibilities men are supposed to have, we will never, left to our own devices, meet them personally until we are fathers. And, now that we're fathers, the "own devices" that we are "left to" are Graco SnugRide infant seats.

Mr. Traffic Patrol Policeman: "Sir, are you responsible for the installation of this infant seat in the back of your minivan?" You: "Officer, I swear those are brand-new bungee cords."


Fatherhood explains love to men. Previously men used love as a technical term meaning "roll in the hay." Then comes Snookums. And there's not even a proper word for the love you feel. The classical Greeks divided love into four kinds: Eros is certainly not what we're talking about. Nor is philia, brotherly love. Nor agape, benevolent love of the whole world (from the Greek gape, meaning, "had too much wine"). Nor storge, which means mere affection or acceptance or putting up with someone. That's the kind of love the baby's mother feels for you.

Herodotus, a classical Greek, says in The Histories that among the Persians, "Before the age of five a boy lives with the women and never sees his father, the object being to spare the father distress if the child should die in the early stages of its upbringing. In my view this is a sound practice." (Which proves that American public schools might be better than we think and that perhaps too much Herodotus is being taught to students from trailer parks and the inner city.)

Fatherhood presents things for men to fulminate about, fulmination being a favorite activity of the mature male. Those public school educations, for instance. It's bad enough that they're teaching kids to read that old liar Herodotus. But when they start teaching kids that FDR was a role model for differently-abled persons who excel in life ...

"Excel in life, my behind," I fulminate when the kids get home from school. "That communistic, skirt-chasing gimp kept the fact that he was in a wheelchair secret from the public for forty-four years! And don't even get me started on the New Deal! His darn cousin Teddy's Square Deal had already ruined the nation! Then Teddy Roosevelt ran on the Bull Moose third-party ticket in 1912, depriving America of one of its finest and most decent chief executives—and role model for all of us differently waistlined persons—William Howard Taft, thereby allowing the wet-smack, buttinski, warmongering, racist Woodrow Wilson to...." But it seems the kids have wandered from the room.

On the other hand, your children's education sends you back to school again. And this time I was determined to learn something. I followed my children's schoolwork carefully and did fine through the sixth-grade vocabulary quizzes and the multiplication table, up to 7 x 7. Fortunately my kids have been taking Spanish, and I already know all the Spanish I need to know:

"Uno más cerveza fría, por favor."

And:

"¿Donde es el baño por los hombres?"

But then we got to middle school math and there was Chief Soh-Cah-Toa lurking in the primeval forest of Trig, right where he'd scalped me almost fifty years before. Now when my children are studying after school I just tell them, "Beats me. Google it."

Fatherhood provides men with a home. I was a bachelor until my late forties. I had a house—a little house in the woods. There were shotguns and fishing rods propped in the corners. My fly-tying vice was screwed into the dining room tabletop. Firewood was stacked in the kitchen cabinets, conveniently near the woodstove. The chainsaw was in the bathtub. (It leaked oil if I left it on the floor.) And the refrigerator was stocked with beer, bait, cans of hash, a skillet, ammo, and more beer. (Not that cans of hash, skillets, and ammo need to be refrigerated. But putting them in the refrigerator meant I always knew where to find them.) Décor was taxidermy animals and unframed Helmut Newton photographs.

Now I have a home. The refrigerator is filled with yogurt, fruit juice, skim milk, vitamin water, turkey bacon, and what I initially took for a houseplant, but turns out to be "kale." The kitchen cabinets are stacked with five-grain breads, seven-grain breads, nine-grain breads, and breads of grains to the nth power—none of them containing trans fats. Central heating and air-conditioning has been installed, lest the children somehow be baked in the woodstove the way Hansel and Gretel almost were by the Wicked Witch. Wicked Witches being poor role models for parenting. The shotguns are in a closet with a Yale lock on the door. Willow Ware covers the dining room table. Rubber ducks are in the bathtub. And the Helmut Newton photographs have been replaced with pictures of babes of an entirely different type.

Fatherhood defines bravery for men. We thought it involved beer. Now it has a larger meaning. And still involves beer. I have two teenage girls. I'm having a brass plaque engraved for my front door:

This is my house. I am O'Rourke.
Well-armed, well-oiled, and choleric.
These are my daughters. Lay not a hand
Upon them. Now, get off my land.


My children are adored. And they give as good as they get. No one else "adores" a man. A woman (who has lost her contacts and had too many Jell-O shots) may think we're "hot." A man, if he gets a look at the way we secured the infant seat with bungee cords, may think we're "cool." A mom may think we're "good"—when she's talking to another mother who has a son in jail. But Baby thinks the sun shines through our burp cloth. Who else can throw Baby so high in the air and (usually) catch him or her? Who else can get down on the playroom floor and (too plausibly) imitate the Hungry Hungry Hippo? You can prolong this adoration of the almost supernatural powers of the father, if you try. For example, learn to burp the alphabet. The kids will adore you all their lives. (If they're boys. My seventeen-year-old daughter has told me in no uncertain terms not to burp the alphabet in front of her friends.)

Fatherhood makes men proud. Proud of everything your kids do and say. Recently I was deploring the exceedingly messy state of my children's bedrooms and gently urging them to "PUT EVERYTHING BACK WHERE IT CAME FROM!!!"

"What if it came from the floor?" was my ten-year-old son's rejoinder. He'll be chief justice of the Supreme Court someday.

A father always has someone to play with. I play "Hide-theCar-Keys" with my seventeen-year-old daughter. I play Carrie (the original 1976 version) on the DVD over and over again for my fourteen-year-old daughter, so she'll know how to handle bullying at school. And nobody but my ten-year-old son will spend hours in the backyard tossing a baseball instead of doing his homework, or me doing his homework, or me doing my work, or him writing this. Actually our Labrador retriever will play catch, too. But it's hard to get the mitt on her nose and she throws like a girl.

Speaking of which, a father gets to pass along his sports skills and knowledge to his children. "When you're batting," I tell my son, "always pull your lead foot away from home plate. Put 'your foot in the bucket,' as they call it. That way you won't get hit by the pitch." And I tell him, "When you're playing outfield and the other team has a man on third and a man on first and the batter hits a grounder to you, throw the ball to the pitcher. He'll know what to do with it." Things like that.

A father always has someone to laugh at his jokes. For example, when you're driving by a cemetery you say, "The graveyard is the most popular spot in town."

"Why?" the kids will say.

"People are dying to get in."

And the kids will laugh. (If they're boys. My daughters reminded me that we were on our way to Great Aunt Dotty's funeral.)

Plus you can make everybody else laugh with the hilarious things that your kids are always saying. I remember one time when my eldest daughter had just started to talk, and my wife took her to the grocery store. When they came out of the store it was pouring. My wife was standing in the rain outside the minivan, trying to get my daughter buckled into that infant seat I told you about. And my daughter was wiggling around and not cooperating at all, and my wife said, "Mommy is starting to get mad."

To which my daughter replied, "And wet, too."

That one's immortal. And so are you. Fatherhood means your chromosomes will eternally replicate and you will, in a sense, live on and, in a way, perhaps achieve everything you ever hoped for. Such as being president of the United States. I mean, "And wet, too"? That girl will be Hillary Clinton someday.

You live forever. Or maybe it just seems like forever. I'm sixty-seven with three children under eighteen. I just did some math. I'm going to get a huge drink. But I'm also going to get—assuming grad school and a couple of years of finding himself for the youngest—huge bills to pay until 2043.

CHAPTER 2

Newborn Terror

The Moment You Realize That "Bundle of Joy" Is a Euphemism for Something Very Different Matthew Continetti


Ever since my son was born ten months ago, I've been thinking of a scene from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

The valiant crew of the starship Enterprise has commandeered a Klingon bird-of-prey for their return to planet Earth. Spock, the Vulcan science officer who has just come back from the dead—it's a long story—is on the bridge, where he is monitoring interstellar communications. His longtime friend Leonard "Bones" McCoy, the ship's doctor, approaches him and sits down.

"Perhaps we could cover some philosophical ground," McCoy says, hoping to start a conversation about mortality. "Life, death, life. Things of that nature."

"I did not have time on Vulcan to review the philosophical disciplines," Spock says.

"C'mon, Spock. It's me, McCoy. You really have gone where no man has gone before. Can't you tell me what it felt like?"

"It would be impossible," Spock says, "to discuss the subject without a common frame of reference."

McCoy is flabbergasted.

"You're joking," he says.

"A joke—is a story with a humorous climax?"

"You mean I have to die to discuss your insights on death?"

My attitude toward fatherhood is the same as Spock's attitude toward resurrection. It is impossible to understand unless it is happening—or has already happened—to you. Becoming a father changes one's life so quickly, so substantively, and so comprehensively, one finds it increasingly difficult to identify with, or relate to, single friends and couples who have not crossed the barrier separating the carefree, childfree life from the duty-bound, child-saturated one.

* * *

For example: The other day I asked a single friend of mine what his plans were for the evening. He and his girlfriend maintain a busy social schedule, and I wanted to know if he was free for an impromptu business meeting.

"Well," he told me, "we're thinking of meeting for a drink."

"Ah," I said. "With whom?"

My friend, not having reached the point in life where leaving the house requires an amount of logistical preparation similar to that which preceded the invasion of Normandy, looked upon me with pity.

"With each other," he said.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Dadly Virtues by Jonathan V. Last. Copyright © 2015 Templeton Press. Excerpted by permission of Templeton Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author


Jonathan V. Last is a senior writer at the Weekly Standard, a Washington-based political magazine, and author of What to Expect When No One’s Expecting: America’s Coming Demographic Disaster (Encounter Books, 2013) and editor of The Seven Deadly Virtues (Templeton Press, 2014). His writings have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the New York Post, the Claremont Review of Books, First Things, and elsewhere. 

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