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How to Be a Jerk in Three Easy Steps

Last weekend, I did something that I'm not proud of. As part of my punishment, I've decided to share my story with all of you. Before I begin, let me present my flimsy case.

It's been well documented that my Grace is the shy kid. Or she has been, at least. Recently she's been more of the social butterfly type, but I'm not convinced that the shy girl who stands alone on the playground won't return.

The other issue is this: Money is tight. My wife and I are spending each dime carefully and purposefully. I'm not talking Bob Cratchet with a single lump of coal, but we're not stoking the fire with hundred dollar bills, either.

Most importantly, neither of these things absolves me of what happened on Saturday.

Last Saturday, I was happy to be able to take Grace to soccer practice. After several weekly cancellations due to rain, we finally had a warm, sunny morning. At home I suited her up (who knew they made pink shin guards?), grabbed her ball, and we got into the car.

At the field, things were going swimmingly. Grace ran around with the other kids, and I pretended to be interested in a conversation about PVP pipe with the other dads. About thirty minutes into it, Grace ran over to me.

"I don't want to play that game," she said.

"What game?" I said.

"That catching game," she said.

I looked at the field. The kids were running around kicking soccer balls.

"What are you talking about, honey? They're just kicking the ball."

She didn't answer. "Grace, what's wrong?" I said. "I don't understand. Why don't you want to play?"

She just whined, "Mmm mmm mmm."

I was embarrassed. I’m the dad with the kid who won't play, the kid who clings like her parent like a stamp. The other dads turned away.

"Are you going to play anymore?" I asked.

"No," she said.

"Then let's go home," I said. "We're not paying all this money so you can stand here and watch other kids play soccer."

She started to cry. "I don't want to go home," she said.

"Get in the car."

At home, I told my wife what happened and she followed Grace into her room. Then the two of them emerged.

"Tell Daddy why you didn't want to play soccer," my wife said.

"I didn't like that monster game," she said.

"Monster game," I said. "What do you mean?"

"They were playing a game where they pretend to be monsters who chase each other around and take their soccer balls."

Good job, dad. You're now a Class-A jerk. Sorry, Grace. I hope you can forgive me.


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