Tag Archives: dads

Father’s Day, and Social Media is Still Special

Father’s Day is one of those weird times of year where weird things happen and I just roll with it. Okay, pretty much every day of the year is like that, but Father’s Day is more so. Because really, think about your father.

All he really wants is to be left alone to watch some football or read or play some video games, depending on how old he is. Give that to your dear ol’ dad, and he’ll be a happy camper. But here we have Father’s Day, wherein you’re supposed to buy ties and wallets and tools and goofy t-shirts and cards for the old man, and don’t get me wrong, he’ll appreciate the gesture, but he doesn’t need any of it. He gets the joy of watching you grow up and do silly things and take first steps and be decent human beings and make him laugh, and occasionally he’ll photobomb you or take you to school in his bathrobe, but you forgive him for that. Because it makes him happy.

That’s what Father’s Day is about. Make the old man happy. But don’t do anything for him that you wouldn’t do on any other day, because he probably doesn’t like being made a big deal over.

Maybe I just speak for myself. But my Father’s Day consisted of staying home with the kids, taking them for a walk in the park, the 1-year-old having a screaming fit for about an hour before she passed out for a nap on my chest while I watched some Football (that’s proper football: the Women’s World Cup is on — and the Americans play tonight — you know), then wrestling with the kids, going out to the grocery store when the wife got in from work, cooking some hamburgers for the family’s dinner (yeah, I cooked, and I chose it!), and having a refreshing adult beverage before bed.

Not pictured: the screaming fit that made me want to die.

Not pictured: the screaming fit that made me want to die.

In other words, a day more or less like any other day. And you know what? It was pretty sweet.

But a weird thing happened this Father’s Day. I’ve been a dad for three years, and this hasn’t happened before. Strangers were saying “Happy Father’s Day” to me. In the park, pushing the sprouts in the double stroller: “Good job, dad! Happy Father’s Day.” Chasing the sprouts around on the playground: “Oh, I know you’re having a Happy Father’s Day.” In the grocery store, carting the sprouts around: “Why are you shopping on Father’s Day?” And it’s not like I crave or even want recognition for doing dad things — that’s just what you do — but I can’t lie, it perked me up and made me walk a little taller. I dunno if there’s something different about this year or different about me or the kids, but those little moments of recognition kinda made my day. (My wife pretty much wrangling 100% of the kids’ nonsense when she got in from work was awesome, too.)

So, there are good things in the world for dads.

But then, there are dumb things, too.

This is Matt McGorry:

He’s an actor on Orange is the New Black (among other things) whose character has done some unsavory things in the wake of fathering a child on a prison inmate (no spoilers beyond that, okay? sheesh.) His character has left a bad taste in the mouth of lots of fans, to the extent that real life fans started harassing the real life actor in real life about things his character did on the show.

He fired back on Father’s Day with a pretty hilarious tongue-in-cheek response on his Instagram (seriously, he and I seem to come from the same school of dubious wit), but it really makes you stop and think. There are people out there watching this show who think that attacking Matt McGorry is the way to resolve their feelings about what his character has done on the show.

As if McGorry has anything to do with what the character does. (Sorry, that would be the writers and the producers.)

As if McGorry would do anything like what his character does in real life. (That’s what “acting” means, boys and girls.)

And as if an irate tweet from @JoeBobDerpSalad266 would have an impact on what McGorry is going to do in his real life, regardless of whether he’s behaving like his character or not.

Similar things happened to Sarah Wayne Callies, of The Walking Dead fame:

Her character was so hated, people would come up to her on the streets to tell her “I [fargoing] hate you.” Because actors actually become their characters when they act.

The people who can’t make this distinction are probably pretty normal people. They have jobs. They have friends and families. They probably look exactly like normal people, except that they lack the ability to distinguish between what’s real and imaginary.

But they have access to social media, which allows them to bring their special variety of crazy into the rest of our lives at any time, without warning, and without remorse. I have a twitter where I tweet intermittently, but this kind of crazy makes me think everyday about just deleting it, and leaving Twitter to burn interminably in the smoldering dumpster fire it is.

Where was I?

Oh, right. Happy Father’s Day.

Super Dad

So it’s two days before Christmas, and I’m out doing some things.

Okay, I know in my last post I wrote about how I’ve basically been a hermit during Christmastime due to the frankly reprehensible traffic situation around my house. But thanks to the sprouts, I still wake up like I’m going to work (meaning 6:00 AM is a good, flopping-around-on-the-bed, waking-up-sideways sleep-in session), so I’m able to leave the house at about 7 AM to go hit the stores.

I have several stops to make: Target (last minute gifts), Academy Sports (last minute gifts), the mall (watch repair), and Kroger (last minute groceries). My wife is working, so the sprouts are up and off with me. We pile in the van and off we go.

Now that sprout #2 is seven months old (Jesus, where does the time go) this routine is becoming about as automatic as showering. Out the door carrying sprout #2 while sprout #1 runs (arms flailing like a scarecrow) to the van. He pulls on the handle while I push the button to open it so it slides open automatically and he turns back to me, beaming, “I DID IT, DADDY!” and I laugh inwardly like a maniac. He climbs into his car seat while I buckle sprout #2 in her car seat, then I run around and buckle him in, then one more time around the car to buckle myself in, and off we go.

When my wife and I take the kids out together, we can tag-team, so there’s no need for fancy tricks or apparati. When you’re flying solo, however, wrangling two rugrats requires some creativity. Usually I opt for the Bjorn, a cleverly-designed sling thingy that lets you carry the baby strapped to your front like some floating kangaroo in black. This leaves my hands free to grab onto sprout #1, though the hours of wearing the Bjorn will probably leave my lower back resembling an accordion by the time I’m 40.

…Anyway, this is how I make my way through the stores of the morning: baby in the Bjorn, sprout #1 either toddling along holding my hand or, if the stop is a long one, riding in the cart or the stroller. From store to store we walk like this, in between stops going back to the van to saddle up and saddle down by means of that whole routine I described above.

It’s important to the point of this post (coming soon, I promise) that my wife runs the exact same play from the exact same playbook when she’s flying solo with the kids, which she does way more often than I do by virtue of staying home with the kids most days I’m at work. It’s also important that neither of us thinks much of the intricacy or repetitiveness of this routine because it is, ultimately, so routine.

SO. I’ve made my stops and I’m in the Kroger (last stop) with baby strapped to my chest and sprout #1 kicking his legs merrily in the shopping cart (somehow I always forget his uncanny ability to aim for my junk with his tiny toddler toes), and this mother/daughter pair asks me quite out of nowhere how I made out at the Academy Sports.

This throws me for a second because it’s a little bit stalkerish, and as I’m faltering, the mom says, “no, we just recognized you because of your kids. You’re like a Super Dad! They look like they’re having so much fun!” And I smile and self-deprecate as is my wont and go on my way, with the mother and daughter awwing at my kids.

This says nothing of all the people that smile and point and wave at my kids when I’m in more crowded places (like the mall). I get impressed nods and comments like, “you go, Dad!” (Yeah, somebody actually said that to me.) In short, basically nothing but positive feedback from total strangers I encountered.

Here’s the point of these encounters: I went home and told my wife about them and she got this annoyed look on her face. Like the look she has when I forget to take the trash out, or when I correct her on her grammar when she’s speaking. (I know the consequences of these things, but I can’t help myself sometimes.) Apparently, when she’s out in public wrangling the sprouts around, she gets virtually no feedback at all, aside from perhaps a sympathetic look from other women or a “looks like you have your hands full!” She gets no “Super Mom” comments, no “you go, Mom”s, no winks, no nods, no thumbs-ups.

And this is gender bias, right?

I’m wading into murky waters for Pavorisms. I’m not an activist, I rarely get political, and let’s face it, I’m about as much an agent for social change as I am an agent of MIB. Which is to say, I like to pretend to fight aliens now and then, and you probably wouldn’t remember an encounter with me, but only because I’m incredibly lame and not because I wield a neuralyzer. (As far as you know.)

But, that aside, I’m a feminist. At least, I’m an armchair feminist. I think that speech that Emma Watson gave at the UN a few months back was cracking good. And I realize that women have a harder go of it in our country (and, yeah, in most places in the world) just by dint of being women, and that’s pretty fargoed. I see the videos of women walking the streets of big cities and getting catcalled and it makes me feel a bit ashamed of my fellow men. I cringe at the anti-feminist movements and the “not all men” nonsense. Look, I’m not here to get into what makes you a feminist or not: for me, if you recognize that women have a harder road ahead of them in this world than men do, and you think that’s messed up, you’re a feminist.

So, back to my point. This is gender bias, right? My wife and I, both wrangling two kids, both probably looking a little haggard (because WE ARE), but I get grins and kudos and backslaps of encouragement while my wife just gets sympathetic looks or, much more often, simply ignored.

Think about it this way: I hardly ever see butterflies, so when I see one, it’s kind of a big deal, right? “Ooh, butterfly, pretty colors, big wings, far out.” What I see a crap-ton of, on the other hand, are squirrels. Like, so many, it would be weird if I even mentioned seeing one, because the odd day would be one in which I didn’t see a squirrel. But say you’re from some other country that’s lousy with butterflies but has never heard of squirrels, and here I am taking for granted these furry little miracles of nature and losing my sharknado over these boring insects with the colors and the wings.

Because that’s what we expect, isn’t it? We expect to see moms out with the kids. We’re programmed to see that, and to see it as normal, whether a dad is there with her or not. So it becomes normal, even though it’s anything but. Taking the two kids out in public by your lonesome is hard work. We’re not programmed to see it as much with guys, so a guy out with two kids dragging him around — even if the mom is there with him — garners more attention, garners more appreciation, garners more praise.

And that’s messed up. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate getting appreciated for my efforts with the kids, not least of which because 99% of the time, parenting is the freaking definition of a thankless endeavor. But for all I do with the kids — especially when it comes to carrying them around in public — I’m not a patch on my wife. She does it more often than I do, she does it more efficiently than I do, and she does it with about half as much frustration as I do (GOD those kneebiters can wear me thin in a hurry when I’m flying solo). And she doesn’t get nearly as much positive feedback for it as I do, IF ANY.

My point is this. If you’re the kind of person who would see a guy like me, with a baby strapped to his chest and a toddler riding in the grocery cart kicking him in the nuts, and consider that guy a “Super Dad” or say something encouraging to him or even just smile and shake your head sympathetically at him, by all means, do that stuff, because we appreciate the attention. But if you’re that kind of person, there’s no reason not to do the same thing for a woman with her kids in the same circumstances… in fact, and maybe this is just my own personal bias shining through, but I’m sticking to it; she probably needs it more. It’s not her fault you don’t notice her like you notice me.

Give the moms some love.

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