When my wife and I first found out that we were going to have a kid, we instantly became aware of the “parenting class” industry that had existed in our community for years without ever attracting our attention. Suddenly, there were all of these flyers, newspapers ads, and emails, offering us practical parenting instruction in friendly classroom settings.
And, as new parents-to-be, we were game for them. Almost immediately, we signed up for the childbirth class, the baby care and CPR class, the “how to install a car seat” class, the breastfeeding class, you name it.
(The only classes I remember us opting out of were the “baby massage” class and the “parenting for dads” class, which I found more than a little insulting.)
It’s any day of the week. My wife is dragging another bin of laundry in the door from the garage, and I’m charging through the hallway with a screwdriver. Moments later, my wife is holding the handle of a knob while I tighten it, and then I’m putting laundry away alongside of her. Moments after that, I’m cooking dinner while my wife puts dishes in the dishwasher. Later tonight, I’ll probably empty the dishwasher and she’ll load it again.
My wife and I never have conversations about the division of labor around the house. Things just get done. We both do things we dislike doing, and sometimes we kick and scream before putting our heads down and getting them done. I’m not trying to suggest that we’re great worker bees or that our house is always clean. But I’m suggesting that my wife and I are a great team and we love each other. And surprisingly, in this age of studies and stats, love goes a long way.
There’s been a lot of talk recently about a woman’s “second shift” as an extension of the “have it all” discussion that went on a couple of years ago. The 30-years-ago-old-world role of women was in the home, but women are still finding that after they come home from their jobs, they’re still doing more chores than their husbands. Fair enough. The numbers don’t lie, right?
So there’s this movie that ended up defining a generation of dads, called Mr. Mom. It glorified the buffoon father – one who was so entrenched in work that if he were required to spend any time at home with his own children, he’d end up covered in baby feces and lighting dinner on fire.
Begrudgingly, fathers yes deared through the image of the buffoon father for some years, then fought it. And all that happened in a really short timeframe. Now, evidently, the Mr. Mom image is dead. Just like that. Just. Like. That.
Sadly, though, it’s not as easy as saying that the image is dead – not even if The Wall Street Journal says it – which they sure did. And not even if The Huffington Post does a eulogy for it, which they did.
This weekend I was working on a stroller review comparing our old UppaBaby Vista with our new Baby Jogger City Select. Searching for a few images to use in the post I came across a blog post about a homemade iPad mount for their kid a Mom made for her City Select. After reading the post I was, as a parent, well, not horrified but definitely annoyed. I understand that we all have that point at which we will do anything to
shut up comfort our kids when they hit a high enough decibel or enough time elapses with the crying/screaming. Sure, No problem, I get it. But I think it’s a completely different story to preempt that potential situation by giving them something in the hopes of keeping them quiet.
To the author, Mrs. Graham’s credit she does point out that she knows that people are not going to be happy with her letting her 2 year old kid watch TV and invites “HAVE AT IT haters”. Well, this hater is gonna hate I guess.
I’ve stumbled my way into many, many heated discussions surrounding divisive parenting issues since becoming a parent. There are certain topics that just seem to bring the worst out in moms and dads, issues where parties on both sides feel defensive, attacked, and vastly self-righteous all at the same time. The topics range from breast-feeding to TV-watching habits to the question of “If your child has a late birthday, should you send them to kindergarten earlier or later?” (That last one is a particular party-ruiner.)
But, while I’ve battled my way through debates on all of those issues and more, possibly THE most contentious parenting issue I’ve encountered so far was one I wasn’t really expecting. If you really want to see a group of modern parents tear each other from limb to limb, just take a deep breath and ask, “So, when do you think it’s appropriate to show your kids the Star Wars movies?”
I can’t imagine that any dad is entirely comfortable taking their daughter underwear shopping. Blogger Jim Higley did a great article back in April about taking his older daughter on shopping “dates” to Victoria’s Secret, and Higley really conveyed that wonderful, uncomfortable panic that can overcome a dad who’s forced to stand too long in the lingerie and unmentionables section.
While moms have their own unique on-the-job difficulties, I know way too many dads who are perpetually nervous about unwittingly coming across as a pervert or a pedophile, thanks to stupid societal prejudices about the perceived dangers of men interacting with children. And, though I disagree with all of those stereotypes, I will admit – when I linger in the girls’ underwear section at Target, my personal levels of social anxiety go off the charts.
Fortunately, unlike Higley, at the moment, I’m getting off fairly easily when it comes to taking my daughter underwear shopping. She’s only five years old, so I’m (hopefully) years away from flop-sweating and avoiding eye contact while I hold a purse next to the Victoria’s Secret changing rooms in the mall. Right now, we just go to Target or Kohl’s, she sees a six-pack of underwear with her favorite characters on it, I toss it in the cart, and we’re good to go. Character underwear makes undergarment shopping super-easy and predictable for the parents of young children.
Or so I thought.
A dad living in Charlotte, North Carolina just scored major points with both his kid and the video game community after a simple DIY project that’s sure to please any video game-loving kid.
Andy, who spent a good part of the last 10 years in the event production and signage business, took his skills (and massive printer) and made canvas prints of video game characters to put on his 11 year old son’s wall. Awesome!
Andy first shared his DIY project with Reddit, where commenters were so wowed, that some actually offered to pay for Andy to make a reprint/reframe for them. We had to get a hold of Andy and have him tell us a little more about what he did and why he did it.
Don’t tell my wife, but I developed a lot of secret personal agendas once I became a parent. For example, I was determined to convince my child that Jim Henson’s Labyrinth was an epic movie (Accomplished!), I wanted my kid to love Donald Sobol’s Encyclopedia Brown mysteries (Achievement unlocked!), and I was dead-set that my daughter would have perfect movie theatre manners (Hat trick! She sometimes even shushes me!). But, if I’m being honest, more than anything else, I really wanted my daughter to love comic books. I am a big comics nerd and it was just a major part of my life that I wanted to share with her.
And, thankfully, she does. She really, really does love reading comics. She’s got her own ever-growing collection of comics and graphic novels and, every time we get in the car, she has to bring along a few comics to read in the back seat. I’m a lucky dad.
However, I realize that there are dads out there who might have to contend with children who might not be interested in comic books and would rather spend their time participating in sports (What?) or academics (No!). But, believe me, there’s still hope.