Story time often lasts for an hour or more, never intentionally. The mouse has to find his new friends before it can end, but I can’t just make it easy for him. That mouse needs to learn some valuable lessons about others and why they act the way they act, first.

He tries a rat. And a raccoon. And a ferret. And a squirrel. They all turn him down.

Eventually he happens upon a giant orange sleeping cat who he’s understandably terrified of at first glance. He starts to tip-toe by, and as he does so, he pauses and watches her for a moment. He realizes that he’s never actually met a cat. He’s only been told that all cats are mean and that he should stay away from them all. Something tells him, not all cats are the same and he shouldn’t judge this cat before he meets her.

He cautiously nudges the cat awake, and asks her to be his friend. “I’ve never had a real friend,” the cat replies. “You’re a mouse and I’m a cat. Doesn’t that scare you?”

“Are you going to eat me?” Noah says.

The cat thinks for a moment. “No, not if we’re friends.”

“Good,” Noah replies. “I don’t care what other people think. Let’s be friends anyway.”

The cat agrees, and together they find even more friends and they all go have a party on the boat. Even the first fat mouse eventually shows up and asks to join them.

By the end of the story, Noah is hugging tight to my arm. He likes happy endings.

A few minutes later, I’m tucking him into his own bed, singing him a song about poop-corn and pee pie.

As I pick up the clutter from around the house before heading to bed a few hours later, I come across his iPad sitting in the middle of the living room floor, and I smile.

He was playing with it the day before when I first asked him if he wanted to practice some exercise ball tricks. He loves that iPad. He’s got hundreds of games and videos and learning programs on it. He could easily spend his entire day on that thing, yet the moment I asked if he wanted to play with me, he tossed it aside and screamed with excitement.

As I pick up the device and place it onto the charger, I am reminded of a lesson I have learned again and again since becoming a dad. There is nothing my son craves more than quality time spent laughing and learning with his father.

My son’s room is full of expensive toys and gadgets. He’s got remote control helicopters and Lego sets galore. He’s got an iPod, an iPad, and his own computer. He’s got robot bugs and Transformers, super hero action figures and light sabers. And still, there isn’t a thing he owns that he doesn’t immediately and happily toss aside when Dad walks into the room and invites him to play.

I live my professional life around technology. It’s why he has the iPad and the computer and many of the other gadgets he does. He is the lucky only child of a Dad who often upgrades to bigger and better things, and who then passes down his stuff to the only one who’s there to take it.

I’ve often thought about whether or not it is healthy and okay for him to have all that stuff. The last thing I want is to raise a spoiled little brat.

As a parent, I don’t have all the answers of what is right and wrong. I don’t think that much of anything is ever universally right and wrong when it comes to parenting. What I can honestly say is this. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with a child having lots of things. I believe the problems arise and exist when things are used to raise the child.

In other words, parents who get their children stuff and use the stuff to keep from actually having to parent are probably going to have shitty kids.

Parents who know that their kids will want and remember the fun and all of the quality time, far more than they will want and remember the things we can buy them, will probably have awesome kids. So long as they set aside plenty of time to give that to them.

I’ve learned that there really is no perfect way to parent. There is no magic formula. Am I there in my kid’s life? Do I take the time to teach my kid? Do I do my best to be the kind of adult I’d like them to someday be? Do I apologize when I make a bone-headed parent move? Do I genuinely cherish my kid, faults and all? If so, then I’ll be all right. My kid will turn out all right.

I know because I make a lot of bone-headed moves as I raise my kid, and he’s still turning out pretty damn good.

Dan Pearce, from my book: The All-Important, Well-Fed, Giant White Man

Last Chapter: Who Stacked the Quarters?

Next up:*Finally* Waking-Up

If you would like to start from the beginning, or catch up on a missed chapter, you’ll find all the chapters I’ve published so far by clicking here.

Of course, this book is for sale on paperback, hard cover, or as an e-book. If you find yourself unable to live without a copy, I would *so* very much appreciate you ordering one. You can find it on Amazon here (paperback and Kindle). Or hardcover here. Or Nook here. Or iBooks here.

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Dan Pearce is an American-born author, app developer, photographer, and artist. This blog, Single Dad Laughing, is what he's most known for, with more than 2 million daily subscribers as of 2017. Pearce writes mostly humorous and introspective works, as well as his musings which span from fatherhood, to dating, to life, to the people and dynamics of society. Single Dad Laughing is much more than a blog. It's an incredible community of people just being real and awesome together!