Well, March marked a decade of fatherhood for me. My sons are now 10 and 9 and through the years they have enlightened me quite a bit. In addition to teaching me to possess more patience, to live in the moment and that the little things really do make a big difference, they have also taught me that I know much less about parenting, life and the universe than I did prior to having children — experience will do that, you know?
All that said, I have noticed that between what I say, what I do and how I do it, I have become a certifiable Dad and harbor many Dad clichés. Here are 10 signs I’ve noted that definitely put me solidly in the land of fatherhood.

1. UNDERWEAR IN THE CAR: Yep, you find underwear in your car. However, it is not from a late evening dalliance with a lovely lass, but one of your sons’ pairs. What’s more? You aren’t even surprised as to how it got there.

2.WHITE SHOES: You have realized that owning a pair of white shoes will never happen again until both of the boys are at least 20. And that goes for light-colored shirts, pants, ties, shorts and pretty much everything else you own as well.

3. FROM A LAWN TO A YARD: Ah, I tell people, “I used to have a wonderful lawn, now I have boys.” My boys love playing outdoors and I encourage it. But my hard efforts of moving tons of rocks and creating beds for flowers and shrubs is not going to reach full fruition for a while because now the yard is littered with action figures, a variety of balls, soccer goals, a swing set and homemade swords and guns aka sticks. In the future, I know my yard will revert to a lawn and my garden will rival Callaway’s. But now, it is what it is. And that really is okay, because I know one day I will miss the bare patches of grass and running over a Darth Vader action figure with the lawnmower.

4. STAR WARS DEBATES: Speaking of Darth Vader, you know you’ve been a dad for a while when you and your 10-year-old can have fun debates on what Star Wars characters/ships/scenes are the best and you have no shame about being a grown man engaging in such discussions. (Actually, sometimes they are the best discussions in the whole week.)
5.COACHING CHANGES: I grew up religiously watching UGA football and UNC basketball. And through the years as a UNC b-ball fan, I developed an extreme dislike for coaches and teams, specifically Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski. Now, with age — and perhaps a dose of wisdom — I find myself settling into the group of fathers who say things like, “That’s the type of coach I want my son to play for. He teaches discipline and sportsmanship and teamwork. He teaches character.” Yep, winning is great, but with sons you begin to realize it is how you win and how your play on the field translates to your life that is really important in the long run. I believe that, but trust me, it still hurts to like Coach K.

6. PHRASES: We all have certain expressions we use. I have my own usually a mish-mash of classical literature, song lyrics and stolen witticisms. However, after 10 years of being a dad, certain other phrases populate my vocabulary much more. Sentences such as: “Y’all go outside and play!” “No playing with the balls in the house!” “Close the dadgum door,” “What are y’all doing in there?” “Turn off the water,” and such.

7. COLLEGE: So, yeah, before you have children you might harbor ideas of them attending your alma mater, an exotic university such as Julliard or Oxford or an Ivy League school. Then they begin school. And you realize how much higher education costs and you think about scholarships and think, “Son, wherever you can get a scholarship, I will be super happy: Western Carolina, West Virginia or West Georgia. Berry College, Berea or Berklee, let’s just make it affordable.”

8. JUST DO IT DINNERTIME: Man, I used to love to cook. Now, if it is just me and the boys, it is frozen pizza time. I don’t even try to grill anymore if momma is out and I am holding down the fort. Totino’s, here we come. Need vegetables? I’ve got a bag of potato chips.

9. PEANUT BUTTER: You start thinking, “I really need to invest in Peanut Butter stock, because we are always buying peanut butter.”

10. WORDS, WORDS, WORDS: You realize one of the most beautiful things you can hear in the English language is, “I love you daddy.”

Happy Father’s Day.

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