I’m raising four dads.
It’s not easy for a mom to raise dads. We’re not fully equipped to train our sons in all the nuances of daddy-hood.
So, like any responsible mom, I seek help.
I look for wisdom.
I study the experts.
I take them to Costco.
Costco sells everything you need for life, but the lessons it holds for Dads-Of-Tomorrow are free. And, many of them are tasty, too.
I suppose the most obvious thing Dads-Of-Tomorrow learn at Costco is strength. Let’s face it, that 50 gallon drum of mustard isn’t going to load itself. Muscles are built and men are made loading up the provisions we purchase.
But, there’s another, more important, kind of strength Dads-Of-Tomorrow learn at Costco. Inner strength. They learn to walk past those X-box games without picking them up, and to leave the unneeded case of Snicker bars behind, all for the greater good of themselves and our family.
Dads in training learn that in life, just like in Costco, saying “no” requires the greatest strength, and is often more important than what they say “yes” to.
Costco also teaches great lessons to Dads-Of-Tomorrow about protecting one’s family, especially on Saturday afternoons and the week before Christmas. I don’t know what it is about those times that turn shoppers into trolls. Maybe it’s the extra crowds. Maybe it’s stress. But, whatever it is, Costco turns into a grown up version of The Hunger Games.
People push and shove and grab stuff out of each other’s carts. I even had a cute, little old lady try to walk off with my cart, with one of my kids in it, and then argue with me that it was hers. And, let me tell you, there was nothing cute or little about that woman’s mouth when I wouldn’t surrender my box of butter and 2 roast chickens to her.
Members of my class of Dads-Of-Tomorrow keep a watchful eye on our cart and its contents. Protecting the cart, and the precious merchandise (and siblings) residing there in, is an important lesson Dads-Of-Tomorrow learn at Costco that will play out on a grander scale when they’re dads, and have families of their own someday.
They’re learning they must be ever vigilant, ever mindful to protect their charges from possible attacks from even the most unlikely sources. Just like in life. We all watch out for the grizzly bears. But, truly great dads have learned to watch out for and to protect their families from trouble dressed as something small and seemingly harmless, as well.
Costco is a great place for a Dads-Of-Tomorrow to learn about providing for their family. It teaches them that providing for one’s family means making sure their family’s needs are met, and that there are many different ways to do that.
Nothing teaches the lesson of the importance of providing quite as well as attempting to complete a race against time from the line at the register to the back of the store (to grab the 3 boxes of milk we forgot to get while we were back there), and back to the register before the cashier hits “total.” It’s worth the sweat and racing heart for our family to enjoy a balanced meal, centering around Lucky Charms.
And, by “almonds” they mean “those gourmet chocolate covered almonds that come in the fancy canister.”
And, by “do you need” they mean “do we need to get you some more of those to ensure our safety and well-being for the duration of the upcoming school holidays, during which we will be home all day and torrential rain is predicted?” Great dads know certain foods are necessary for survival.
Costco teaches Dads-Of-Tomorrow the importance of planning. At Costco you’ve got to have a list, and to check it more than twice. And, not just at Christmas. And, not just if you’re St. Jolly.
Without a list, a trip to Costco is just a $400, 2 hour trip to buy milk and a bag of spinach, during which you fail to buy both the milk and the spinach. Dads-Of-Tomorrow learn that you must plan for even the little things, as they travel those hallowed, towering aisles.
Just as one plans space for the bike and funds for the blueberries while shopping, great dads plan downtime for playing and cuddling and laughing and leading. And, just as the milk doesn’t make it into the cart if it isn’t on the list, Costco reminds Dads-Of-Tomorrow that many of the important parts of daddy-ing will fall through the cracks, too, if they aren’t deliberately planned.
I think Costco gives out samples solely to provide additional depth to their Dads-Of-Tomorrow curriculum. Discernment is a lesson quickly learned by Dads-Of-Tomorrow as they navigate the treacherous waters of sample selection.
Before grabbing what looks like a tempting tart, think it through. Is it cinnamon and sugar wrapped in a flakey crust? Or, is it asparagus disguised by a layer of pale, stinky cheese? Should you down that plate of chips and salsa now, or wait until you come upon a drink sample?
Think before you act. Consider your actions. Make sure you have a napkin. All valuable lessons for Dads-Of-Tomorrow.
Patience is taught in many departments at Costco, but I think the lesson is most strongly conveyed while cueing up to pay at the registers.
Patience with the clueless people in front of us who somehow didn’t realize they need to unload their merchandise onto the conveyor belt.
Patience with the new cashier who’s having trouble spelling “banana” correctly, so she can look up the proper code to ring up the bunch we’re buying.
Patience with the whiney kid behind us who keeps poking our croissants and popping his gum. Dads-Of-Tomorrow can pick up a giant, barrel sized pack of this valuable daddy-ing commodity at Costco.
Lastly, Costco teaches Dads-Of-Tomorrow the most important daddy-ing lesson of all – to play. Granted the giant swing sets, big screen TV’s, and massive kayaks displayed in Costco pointedly hammer this point home. Nonetheless, the true lasting lesson in the value and priority of play found at our local Costco is delivered with finesse, and makes a lasting impression with a much more subtle delivery.
At our Costco there are 2 yellow concrete pylons outside one of the main freezers. I suspect they’re there to insure that overly zealous fork-lift drivers don’t damage the door to the behemoth ice house. But, whatever their intended purpose, these 4 foot high yellow cylinders are used by the Costco employees as coat racks for parkas that, I’m guessing, they wear while in the big, deep freeze.
Unless they’re in use, the coats are zipped and slid over the pylons. The hood at the top keeps each parka from sliding to the floor, and creates the appearance of a face in the hood. Except that for the first few months after they started doing this, there was no face.
Every time we walked by them we’d joke about how sad it was that they had no face, and how someone should bring a marker and give the poor things faces.
They have faces now. Happy smiling faces.Everyone who walks by smiles right back at them.
My class of Dads-Of-Tomorrow has the biggest smiles of all.
Only they know how those faces got there. But, everyone who sees the faces sees fun and play and silliness, the most important skills a great dad must have.
I’m not saying I drew those faces on.
But, if you need one of those cool, thick Sharpie markers, I’ve got one in my purse.
It’s one of my favorite tools in, and fondest memories from, my Raising Dads-Of-Tomorrow Tool Kit.