How Being A High School Geek Helped Me Be A Good Dad

When you stop and think about all the skills you need to be a “GOOD” father, it’s never-ending. There are no manuals and kids don’t come with handy Ikea-like instruction guides. You must have some things deep inside you that come out at the right time.

I was thinking about this ‘particular set of skills’ and where some of those came from.

The more I thought about it – the more I am proud to have been a ‘geek’ in high school. Why? Read on!

I Was a Band Geek

Not only was I in the Marching, Concert and Jazz bands, but I was the President! I played a mean trombone and our high school competed in some serious marching band action.

That’s me on the right.

We learned how to march in tandem with 85 others, read music, memorization skills and how to watch a leader to end up on the same beat. But the biggest band skill I use on a daily basis as a dad?

The Roll Step!

It’s a style of marching that allows you to glide across a field, instead of your traditional stomping march. You roll from your heel to your toes, along the side of your foot. They even have special shoes for it!

Rolled Heel!

This skill is HUGE when trying to snag something from the kids’ rooms while they’re sleeping, or to make it across the wood floor, to the crib with the sleeping baby in your arms. It helps make you move like a musical ninja! I’m just happy I don’t have to do it with a plumed helmet on my head anymore.

I Was a Student Council Geek

Yup, I was elected by my peers to serve on the Student Council. We decorated for dances, made graduation plans and I don’t really remember what else.

I think I even made posters.

What I do remember is every single thing had to be a negotiation – often where you just can’t figure out what the other side even wants. Sound like a Dad Skill? Ummm, yeah.

“Ok, we’ll let you have that Alt-Rock song as the Prom theme, if you allow us to use silver stars as the main décor…” Sounds a lot like… “If you eat three green beans and all your rice, you can have half a brownie for your sweet treat.” A lot of negotiating and does anyone ever win?

I Was A Sports Team Manager Geek

I love baseball, but I’m not fast, can’t hit for power and have a crappy throwing arm. So, I wasn’t a player. I was the manager. Yeah, I was the guy with the scorebook, running back and forth from the dugout to the umpire when he needed a fresh set of baseballs.

Keeping score – not scoring.

I kept the jocks stocked with bubblegum and sunflower seeds and was just happy to have my photo in the sports section of the year book – I even lettered in Baseball.

Sure, a lot of the gig was silly and simple – but I had found a way to be a part of the game I love – even though I wasn’t very good at it.

Keeping score kept my head in every single pitch. I could see strategy working out – I got to learn the players and knew if a curve ball would work against them on a first pitch as opposed to a third pitch. I could time someone getting from home plate to second on a double in the gap and I knew how to score a ball that ricocheted off an infielder and still convince the batter that he reached on an error and not a hit. I would know the other team and if our right fielder needed to shade closer to the line cause their kid knew how to hit the other way.

I saw the game three steps ahead of the action.

I use this ALL the time as a Dad. I can read the kids’ actions. I’ve learned their tendencies. I can anticipate what they’ll do for most situations about to hit. Sure, there are times when a lucky swing knocks my sure-thing approach over the outfield wall – but I learned the humility of the game too and to roll with it.

I Was An AP-European History Geek

I wasn’t the smartest kid in my class, but I was in the upper 25%. Some classes just made no sense to me – hello Algebra. WHY ARE WE ADDING LETTERS TOGETHER!??!

Others just clicked for me. I LOVED US History class. I love US History – Revolutionary War, Civil War, Depression, Roaring 20s, etc. I aced US History without even trying (and NO it wasn’t because I was the manager of the baseball team and my teacher was the coach… I think).

So, when the next year came, I was placed into AP level European History.


I do NOT love European History. Blech. I couldn’t get through the first chapter of the book, and my grades showed. So, even though it would not look great on my college applications, I withdrew from AP European History. (I fought through AP Spanish though! HOLA JUAN!!!).

It was one of the first times that I sat back and said – this just isn’t for me. I need to do something else that will benefit me more than struggling all year at something I don’t like.

Today, I use this all the time as a Dad. When I’m trying something with the kids, that I was sure they’d enjoy and would work, and it just blows up in my face – I back out and try something new. We step back and look at the situation – how can we make this work better for all of us. Ya know what? Most of the time, we get it right the very next time.

I Was A Geek With The Ladies

Oh boy. This one still stings a little bit. High School is fraught with those girls that you had crushes on, and they never knew. Even now, 25 years later, I wouldn’t tell any of them – I think. Maybe, who knows. But I sat there and suffered in silence while the other guys seemed to have no problem asking the girls out. I watched as the girl I knew I’d treat so well, would go off with some meathead and get hurt.

Gotta love Ronni Miller

Ever watch your kids about to make a mistake and know it would be better for them if you just let it happen? It’s really hard – I find this one of the hardest things to do – I want to swoop in and save them before they can get hurt. Let them know that I love them instead of letting them fail at something. But, they won’t learn that way. They need to know how to bounce back from a bad situation. So, like in high school, I sit back in silence and watch from a far. And, just like in school, I’ll always be here whenever they stop and look for me.

I Was A Drama Club Geek

Not to start mind you. As a freshman, I was the shy, chubby kid in the corner. I had watched musicals on PBS and heard more than my fair share of the music. But me, get up on stage? HELL NO.

My freshman year, they did a show called Pippin at the high school. The guys had to wear tights. Chubby shy kid in tights? HELL NO! They had to dance. Me dance? HELL NO! They had to sing in public. Me? HELL NO!

Some of my best friends were in the show, so I went opening night to see it. As soon as the opening number, Magic To Do, started – I WAS HOOKED. It was magical. It put a spell on me that never went away.

That summer I auditioned for a production of The Music Man and got in. Next year at high school I was in Bye Bye Birdie. I had a small role in Guys and Dolls as a Junior and senior year I was one of the leads in Once Upon A Mattress as the Jester. I sang, danced….and wore tights!

I was even voted “Best Actor” in the year book. WOO!

After about 50 shows in total, I’m semi-retired from theater while I spend my time with wife and kids. But the skills are used EVERY day.

I constantly sing songs with my kids. We have dance parties almost every morning. I’ve memorized nursery rhymes and can sing harmonies while we make our way through Frozen for the 1000th time. I can improv any game they want, make up a story or even rap about their favorite Disney Princesses to help keep them entertained.

In my video for favorite Disney Rides, I went off on a soap-box tangent for the ways schools are now eliminating or going to pay-for-play methods of the arts. I’m saddened.

I truly believe that no decision in my life helped shape who I am today more than seeing Pippin on that opening night. The freshman boy in the corner became the guy standing center stage as a senior. It led me to having confidence to stand in front of people – making me a corporate trainer as a job. It led me to work with community theater groups and helping with marketing and sales which led me to where I am now as Director of Marketing for a major catering company.

High School was hard a lot of the time – but it truly made me who I am today, and in my opinion, has helped me be a better dad.

Who I was made me who I am.

What about you – what was your life like in high school? Have you carried any of it with you to today? Share your story in the comment below.


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