Parenting 101: Supporting Your Child’s Interests

I’ve been taking my son Tom to his basketball practices.  My wife Staci used to do it, but she got bored just sitting there for an hour.

I can see how it would be boring.  The kids learn how to play zone defense.  They learn how to set screens.   They learn how to rebound.

This requires the average parent to sit on the half-open bleachers and fill an hour.

Some talk to each other.  Some read.  One knits.

I fill the hour in a different way.

I boo my son.

Tom makes a lay-up.


Tom hits a jump shot.


Tom gets a rebound.


It is as though I am rooting for another team.  An invisible one.  And Tom is the enemy.

If nothing else, it is a novel approach to parenting.

So far, the other kids’ parents haven’t said anything.  Mostly because they think I’m an unstable vagrant who’s wandered into the gym.

And Tom handles it well.  When the practice is over, he lets me walk about twenty yards ahead of him all the way to the car.  As though I’m not his father.  As though he too believes I’m an unstable vagrant who’s wandered into the gym.

But I don’t mind.  I just get in the car and wait for him to open the door and sit in the passenger seat.

And as he does, I don’t start the car.  I don’t do anything.  Because I know it will make him turn his head toward me.

And when he does:


I boo the way he sat down.

37 thoughts on “Parenting 101: Supporting Your Child’s Interests

  1. Having spent many years taking our son to practice for basketball, baseball, football and every other sport you can think of (not to mention the games) I really wish I had thought of your strategy. Of course, my son would have told someone that I was a registered child molester or something like that just to see me get arrested and act like he did not know me. Be glad your son has not thought of that.

  2. Poor Tom..I assume you consider this “character building”.But then what does a vagrant in off the street know about child rearing?

  3. Hey — not every kid is gonna be an NBA star and they gotta learn it early. Gone are the days when we should tell our kids they can be anything they want when they grow up. Seriously…good work Pastis!

  4. Thank you. You are awesome. You are a very smart man. The other team will boo your son eventually and you are just preparing him! SMART!

  5. He’ll find a way to pay you back one day. I used to do that kind of thing to my daughter. This summer during one of my softball games I was being heckled from one of the fans in the stands. Yep. It was my daughter.

  6. Ha ha ha, Hildred wrote, “Poor Tom..I assume you consider this “character building”. But then what does a vagrant in off the street know about child rearing?”

  7. You should really think about getting a job that keeps you away from your family longer, or even a second job.

    Maybe Bill Keane needs someone to make coffee?

  8. An hour? As in, a WHOLE 60 minutes? Pfft… Try working on an assembly line for 7 years. Of course, they say that the voices ONLY talk to me… but I know better.

  9. I hope you pick out which nursing home you’ll go to ahead of the time you will need it! (Of course after this post, I am now wondering if you maybe escaped from some other form of institutionalized care?) Have a Happy Thanksgiving, but don’t give Tom the knife to carve the turkey!

  10. I used to break into Broadway show tunes while going through the Burger King drive-thru with my daughter. I know she really cherishes those memories.

  11. Sadly I can see my boyfriend doing that to our son, if we ever wanted one. Which is another reason why I don’t want a child.

  12. Oh my lord I think I made a snot bubble from laughing so hard. You are such a bad bad daddy! I hope I can be just like you!!! But seriously, too dang funny, you are such a nut and I love it!!

  13. Well, I’m sure this will put you in the running for father-of-the year….NOT!

  14. In years to come when they lower you into the ground the only sound to be heard will be ‘booooooooooo’

  15. Dude, don’t ever get sick after your wife dies. Your son will cut you off for “mercy” so fast you’ll be in your grave without a tombstone.

  16. After that, I’m sure Staci will no longer need to require him to wear a bag over his head in your videos – he will do it on his own. So really, you were simply supporting her parenting choices. Brilliant. After telling her this, she should be so thankful…

  17. I’m new to this site, and I’m really glad I stumbled upon it. Very funny blog. But I’m sure if your son suddenly goes postal and takes out a small village in his rampage, we’ll all be like, “Well yeah, his dad did like to boo his every move…”

  18. You’re booing the person who may one day be deciding whether or not to take you off life support.

    Here’s the deal with kids. You want to play Who’ll Laugh Last with them? Odds are, they’re gonna win.

  19. You only boo when he does something? You’re missing a lot of opportunity then. I try to taunt my son when he’s just standing idle…try saying his name in a drawn out sing-songy voice when he’s just standing there. I was inspired by the ringers softball episode of the Simpson’s where Homer sat in the stands saying ‘Darryl’ over and over again.

  20. Good for you. Too many kids these days suffer from high self-esteem. Actually it isn’t the kids who suffer, it’s the people who have to be around them. Kids need to know that in the real world there will almost always be more people pulling against them than for them (politicians think it’s GOOD when they have a 48% approval rating) Better they should learn that from their father than from the cold ruthless world.

  21. I horrified a co-worker when I told her that when my kids were little, whenever they asked for something expensive I would explain to them that: “sweetie, that’s very expensive and I don’t love you that much.” She didn’t believe me and when my son who was also working for the company came by, she started to ask him: “when you were little and asked for something expensive” and he interrupted and said, “oh, she’d say she didn’t love us that much.” She said, “this was when you were in high school?” He told no, like early elementary. The woman didn’t speak to me for days.

  22. Nothing like booing the fruit of your loins to show what a failure you are as a father.

    You are the father, right? Really?

  23. To Cindy: We have said the same thing to our son in front of people. The react just like your co-worker.

    To my fellow Simpsons fan: We’ve done that, too, to make him blush and giggle.

    We have also been known to dance in grocery store aisles, sing in the mall, make kissy-faces at him in public, give him wet willies in restaurants, say very loudly “You think she’s pretty?!” and never let him win while playing Rock Band/Guitar Hero. Yes, we are both around 40 years old, I swear.

    We’ve also asked him to please not kill us in our sleep. He just smiles and looks all dreamy…

  24. Reading your blog makes me so happy, because we seem to think so much alike. Bravo.

  25. Hahahahaha
    “So far, the other kids’ parents haven’t said anything. Mostly because they think I’m an unstable vagrant who’s wandered into the gym.”

    That was GOLD, and then of course the booo at the end LOL
    If you cant laugh at yourself, what’s the point. I see in this a strong relationship and bond built on the trust that its perfectly normal to laugh at yourself.
    First time commenter but if you write like this normally, I will be back 🙂

  26. I admit it…I am a bad father. I taught both of my boys to read the newspaper by introducing them to Pearls, Calvin, Pickles, Far Side, Zits, and Foxtrot.
    They DO now read the paper. They also do the Jumble and Wuzzle. Steph is funny as %!*&…

  27. Kind of stumbled upon you this morning over a bad cup of coffee and just picked out some of your stuff on a “random basis” and I find I like it very much.

    You are quick, engaging and interesting. I am going to cop a subscription and hang out here for awhile.


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