"I am George Washington."
"When I wrote those words in the book Being George Washington a few years ago, partly I did it to raise some eyebrows but mainly I wrote it to make a point. I am George Washington. You are George Washington. At least we should all be striving to be George Washington or Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King or even Edward Janssen of 118th Avenue in Puyallup, Washington."
"Edward Janssen was my grandfather. I want to be like my grandfather. I spent a lot of time this weekend thinking about my children and being a dad. Being a dad is so hard. I don't know if anybody else thinks this, but it is so damn hard. It's the hardest thing I do. I can do just about anything without even thinking, and being a dad is I caught myself a couple of weeks ago telling my daughter who is now pregnant that I'm excited to be a grandfather because I know how to do that. I know how to do that because of my grandfather, Edward Janssen. I had a good grandpa."
"I know how to be a grandpa. But I'm a good dad too. I have to start saying that out loud. It's hard. I've always thought even when Pat and I were together and Pat would see me in the drinking days, I used to always think that I was a better person and a better dad when I was drunk because I could slow down enough. But I wasn't obviously. But what I was was less self conscious about, I wasn't so fixated on me. I wasn't people are not awkward around kids. I am. I don't ever know what to do around kids. Even when I was little, I was better around adults. In fact, you know, moms used to like me and I think that's why dads didn't like me. Because I knew how to work the system, and I was better with adults than I was with kids."
"But I thought about it last week. I was not really ever good with dads. I'm not sure if dads just saw through my bullcrap. I think now that I'm a dad, that's probably what it was. Dads have just this vision, they see through the bullcrap. Or it's because I didn't relate to dads. I don't ever feel like I know what to say or do. Are we that different from each other? Is it just that we all have some area in our life like this and mine just happens to be, I don't know, not making my kids cry all the time by saying we're all gonna die? Is that what it is? We just all this different skills?"
"We have different tastes, we have different skills, we have different likes and dislikes. We may have grown up decades apart on the other side of the continent or entirely different faiths and social levels, but really in the end we are so very much alike. We've all done things we wish we hadn't have done and do things we wish we had. We talk too much and ponder too little. We hurt others when we hurt and argue over stupid things, like working too much at the job or not working enough at home. And we, all of us, lay down at night and we worry. What happens if I lose my job? I've got to be better. I've got to keep my eyes open during the ballet recital and let it imprint on me so I can recall every detail when she gets off the stage. Was I too harsh when I scolded them the other day or not harsh enough. Crap. That's gonna leave a mark. And you know it will because it left one on you. I don't want to be like my dad and, holy cow, I've turned into my dad. No matter how hard you try, it seems you leave a mark on your kid."
"Hannah, my second oldest who is now pregnant with my first grandchild, was driving home with me the other day, and she started talking about Prince Eric and it took me a while to remember who Prince Eric was. And she said, man, Dad, you know, that was way too soon when you told me about Prince Eric. I'm like, what are you talking about, Prince Eric? 'My goldfish.' I said, 'Your goldfish?' 'You don't remember Prince Eric?' And I'm like, 'Oh, yes, I do remember Prince Eric. Prince Eric was the goldfish. You had Ariel. It was right after The Little Mermaid came out and you had Ariel and Prince Eric'.
"'And Ariel died, like, on the first day and you were so traumatized. And then you went to school and Prince Eric died. And so I went and got another Prince Eric and just put Prince Eric in there. And that damn goldfish died, like, eight or ten times and I kept replacing him, and you kept coming to me going, 'Dad, look how fat Prince Eric got from breakfast this morning.' And then he would suddenly lose weight and then he would have a spot where he didn't have a spot. And she thought she was the greatest goldfish keeper of all time."
"For years I kept Prince Eric alive by replacing him and flushing the dead Prince Eric down the toilet before she would get home. She was 13 years old. Prince Eric had finally kicked the bucket about 10 and she's 13. And we're laughing and talking about it, and she talked about what a great person she was. She could have goldfish because she wanted to get more goldfish because she could keep them alive unlike anybody else. And I just started to laugh. And she said, 'What?' And I said, 'Let me tell you a little bit about Prince Eric.'"
"And she said, 'Dad, all I remember is just thinking, Oh, dear God, this is too soon. I don't know what he's going to say, but it's too soon.' And I'm like, 'You were 13. You can get over the damn goldfish that I replaced.'"
"The whole point of this is sometimes, sometimes you're not just the best father. Sometimes you try to do the right thing because you're trying to protect your kids, and for some reason or another it doesn't work out so well."