Fathers, Sons … and Costco?

Although Father’s Day 2012 has just passed, those who are dads know that being a dad is a year-round adventure. I came across an amazing, uplifting story in the “Life Lessons” section of this month’s issue of Real Simple magazine by writer and dad Dan Zevin. He talks about how a simple trip to Costco with his own dad taught him something surprising about fatherhood that has helped him continue to be a great dad to his own kids. I was laughing hysterically at the roles of dads and their grown-up sons who now have their own children. I think it’s a great lesson about generosity and the process of give and take (that will also help you improve your Costco shopping skills!). It’s an excerpt from an essay in Zevin’s book, Dan Gets a Minivan: Life at the Intersection of Dude and Dad, which you can get on Amazon.  I can’t wait to read the rest!


By taking us through every detail of the shopping trip Zevin experiences with his own dad, he teaches us (and learns himself) that the process of making choices at Costco is really a wonderful metaphor for the most essential elements of being both a dad and a provider. At Costco, he can gain those special “dad life skills” that he can pass on to his own son:  “With the water beneath my cart, I complete a critical step in my initiation. I am on my way to becoming a true provider. By the time my cart is three-quarters full, a sense of inner peace replaces my Shopper’s ADD. This is how my father must feel all the time, I reflect, thanks to his relationship with Costco. He is never preoccupied with the threat of carbon monoxide in his home, since he knows where to get a two-pack of Nighthawk carbon monoxide detectors. Safety pins, rubber bands, twist ties, hangers—those things a person never buys but somehow still has? I finally understand their significance. A man can’t attain the enlightened state of provider until he knows all that is possible to provide.”


I think a lot of us hear ourselves interacting with our kids sometimes and worry, “I’m turning into my parents!” Zevin’s story puts a positive spin on that statement and shows all the things dads (and even moms!) can learn from our parents that will help us nurture and provide for our children generously and pass down some solid and loving values to future generations of fathers and sons. To quote Maimonides (as Zevin’s dad does in the opening lines of this story), “A man should never stop learning, even on his last day …” not even during a trip to Costco!


Please check out a performance (filmed at this year’s Mamapalooza) of our song “Four Years Old” about parents and kids learning from and teaching each other as they grow up together.