The things kids say and do are unlike anything you'd think of, and that's the fun of being a parent. When it's not fun is when they're acting in a way that presents a problem you don't know how to solve. They're screaming their heads off for three hours, and you have this fear that they'll keep screaming forever.
You're trying to get your kid to the bus stop, and really, they don't have to go if they don't want to. What are you gonna do about it? That's a terrifying thing to realize -- that only they have the control over what they're going to do, and you just have to try to guide them in the right direction. That's the difference between being a good parent and a helicopter parent.
CNN: How do you pick yourself back up from a bad parenting day?
Magary: I have a glass of wine and go to bed. When my wife and I know the day is going badly, we'll just cut our losses, go to bed at 8 and wake up with a fresh slate. It usually works. You don't usually get two bad days in a row. Of course, all the parents of teenagers tell me it gets worse. They all look shellshocked; it's terrible.
CNN: When you were a teenager, did you think that manhood included being a dad?
Magary: No, I was like any other guy, "I'll get married when I'm 50 and I'm gonna make movies and snort cocaine. ..." All guys are like that, and then they undoucheify.
A lot of what we do at Deadspin is debunking the bro thing. Men should get more credit than that. When guys write to me, they have fears and hopes and imaginations. They're a lot more interesting psychologically than just being douche bags who want to go clubbing.
CNN: Did you have a moment when you saw that transformation in yourself?
Magary: Probably when my third kid almost died. I was more grateful for existence -- I wasn't quite the cynical ass I'd always been, and that's permanently the case now.
CNN: What did facing that teach you about the kind of man and father you want to be?
Magary: You can have kids and not fundamentally change -- you just get to do more stuff. People say they change your life, but you're still pretty much the same person, but walking around grumpy because you don't get any sleep.
I'll still get frustrated with my kid when he's crying his ass off, but I'm happy he's here. I have a fundamental understanding of how ridiculous it is to be annoyed at him -- because I'm happy he's not dead.
I tell my kids I love them every day. I hug them and kiss them and all that, probably more than they want. I'm not the stoic dad, where you're fighting for 50 years to hear your dad say, "I love you" once.
CNN: What advice would you give to a first-time dad?
Magary: Know when to walk away. Not from parenting, of course, but from meltdowns and conflicts. It's not worth it.
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