Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Foreign and Domestic Enemies of the Involved Dad

A lot of dads are involved and engaged with their kids.  That is awesome and of course, exactly as it should be.  What we didn't realize was that those good dads, the ones we love? Get their share of crap, too.This post came to us from the very Rob Kristoff, who you can read lots more from at: http://www.ourdaysarejustfilled.com/ and http://www.robkristoffwriting.blogspot.com/.

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Let’s start with introductions, shall we? Once upon a time, not so long ago, really - I was a rather lonely, younger man. Life had its high points, but all-in-all, was pretty monotonous. Then I met a woman. My psychoses and baggage did all they could to drive her away, but she stuck around because of some vision she saw for us that I still can only see in quick glimpses. Also, I really did (and do) love her. I should mention that. We got married on the beach, moved all our stuff around to various domiciles a few times, and the most amazing thing happened: we acquired this little kid that looked and acted kinda like her, kinda like me, and mostly like herself. It was odd: we became deliriously happy, and also exhausted. And poorer. But we both agreed it was the happiest we’d ever been. So as I write this, I look back at that other guy, and I wish I could have told him this was coming.

Anyway, I find that while my daughter is my little lotus blossom and my sunshine, my only sunshine, who makes me happy when skies are grey (feels like rainbows should be involved in this image, somewhere- she’s a five-year-old girl. Probably some unicorns, too.), there are a few things about being a Dad that are the psychic equivalent of stones in my shoe. Here’s a few…
Parenting Magazines:
You know what? The title suggests its for PARENTS, not just moms. So how about this? When articles have titles like “Keeping Your Child Safe” and “How to Help Your Kid Learn”, why do you write things that show you assume only women are reading this? Are you serious? You know fathers can read, right? I have a degree in literature! And yes, that does help me appreciate that this is what women have been saying about inclusive language for decades. But this is excluding ME!

Children’s Lit:
I am getting pretty sick of even the best kids’ books starting like this: ‘There was a cute little _____, and he/she lived with its mother in an old hollow log.’ Whether they’re bats or owls, birds or raccoons, they always live a peaceful, cozy life with Mom. What the shell? I mean, it may be true with certain species, but since when were these books scientifically accurate? It is a nice surprise every now and then when cute little junior has a father at home. And that’s kind of a shame, isn’t it? That it’s a surprise?

The Divorce Thing:
Hey, guess what? I’m not divorced. This is my child and sometimes her Mom wants time to herself. Shocking, I know. I don’t have her ‘for the weekend’. Hey, I grew up without a father around. I respect those fathers doing stuff with their kids. However, it still is kind of insulting to me when you assume that if I go anywhere with my just me and the kid, it’s a part of my custody agreement. And also…

The Babysitting Thing:
Hey people who say this to fathers- do you have any idea how insulting this is to everyone involved? You’re asking me if I have to be forced to do stuff with my kid. You’re indirectly telling her that her father only spends time with her if he’s forced to. And let’s not even talk about what that could do to her self-esteem. And also, WHO ARE YOU? I don’t even know you and now you’re insulting me and my daughter? Mind your own business, why don’t you? Which leads finally to…

The Talkers:
Where did you get that red hair? What’s your name? How old are you? This one doesn’t really apply only to fathers, I realize that. But sometimes we’re the more protective and less relationshippy parent, so I’ll include this one for myself, since it’s a personal pet-peeve (that means it makes our cat mad, too). What on earth makes total strangers think that they can ask my child for personal information? And for some sort of family history, too? The part of this that I’m really amused and confused by is that then, said stranger tells me who in their family has hair that color, or that someone they know has a dog with the same name as my daughter. Hmm, how can I put this nicely? I don’t care. And my daughter is not a dog. Goodbye.

Now, don’t go away mad, they always say, and that seems wise. I do want to share a story that sums up those surprisingly cool things that also happen. Once, when we were visiting a bike shop that I frequented, my then two-year-old daughter saw one of those little ride-on giraffes made of wood. She hopped on and started riding. I quickly tried to get her off.

But the shop owner said, “Does she want that?” I replied as ingratiatingly as I could, “Sure, but she wants a lot of things!” You see, since our little miracle was born, we hadn’t really had money for bike parts, so I had sort of an ongoing guilt about looking around but never buying. “No,” he said, “I mean she can have it
- I was cleaning out my attic today and found it. Do you want it?” He’ll never know, but he made a little girl’s day that day, and that ‘Horsey Buk’, as she’s called it from then on, is now a family… well, if not heirloom, then a family friend.

But the cat and I still hate the Talkers. Oh, and one more image, because it makes me laugh. We watch lots of nature documentaries, as my daughter loves animals. The other day as we were doing this, she looked up at her mother and I and said, with a completely straight face: “I love when animals kill.”

I felt like I’d explode with love and pride...

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

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