Here at Daddy Mind Tricks it’s no secret that we are over the reputation that dads are inferior parents when it comes to both potential and execution. Our New Dad Order alone details 10 new rules on how to be, “better at life, liberty and the pursuit of perfect daddyness.” Hell, we even call out in You Suck as a Parent If… where parenting can easily fall short or lose sight on things that are truly important.
With that said, we have luckily been surrounded by other rad dads who believe in the same concepts we do who also just happen to be extremely talented writers and inspiring fathers. So without further ado, a man who understands How To: Survive a Playdate, Jason Turner.
Parenting’s Not-So-Great Expectations
Four months ago, as I was preparing to become a father for the first time, I turned to an old friend for advice on how to be a good dad—television.
Unfortunately, TV dads are more underwhelming than a middle school talent show (or so I’m told). Should I model my paternal style after the helpless and whiny Ray Barone; lazy and negligent Homer Simpson; terrifying and absent Walter White; or maybe alcoholic, womanizing Don Draper?
Like an all-you-can-eat buffet at Sizzler there are endless, regrettable options.
In the end, however, like a dissatisfied Bachelor, I decided that none of them were deserving of my rose.
I didn’t want to be a clueless, overmatched, dimwitted, can’t even figure out how to change a diaper dad. I didn’t even want to be the status quo dad. I want to be a great dad. I know I’m not the only guy who feels this way, but the sad thing is, whether it’s fictional or in real life, the bar for dads is just… so… low…
I remember the first time I took my son, Bowie, out into the world. It was about six weeks after he was born and I took him to one of my favorite a.m. places—a world-class coffee and donut destination called Tim Hortons.
I got my coffee and donut, and we made our way to a small table, near a flickering fake fireplace. Bowie was still asleep, so I left him in his car seat and attempted to get some work done on my laptop.
This did not last.
After about 20 minutes Bowie woke up. He was alert and inconsolable. I offered him a toy but he wasn’t interested and he spit out his pacifier like it was covered in kale. I sensed a meltdown coming, so we packed up our things and headed for the door.
On our way out a woman stopped me. She put her hand on my arm and said, “I’ve had the best time watching you. (Insert surprised emoji). “It’s just so wonderful to see this kind of thing,” she said.
I was flattered. I was proud. I was a little creeped out. But mostly I was surprised.
This was not an isolated incident. A few weeks later, someone asked what happened to the mom (she was at work). Everyone smiles at us. Some folks clap. And I suspect that if they had the resources and enough notice they would probably have a parade in our honor.
This is great news for me, and sad news for the current state of Daddom. All I have to do to elevate myself into the previously unachievable status of American heroes like George Washington, Neil Armstrong and Caitlyn Jenner (see graph), is take care of my son for some minutes… without my wife present.
This phenomenon is all the more remarkable when you consider what women go through when they go out into the world with their kid(s). Moms who go out into the world with their kids are not heroes. People do not clap. No one is impressed.
Of course, moms do elicit reactions from strangers—“Can you keep the noise down” “Should you be letting them do that?” huffs, eye rolls, judgey looks—but nothing so overwhelmingly positive as what the unaccompanied dad will experience.
I’m not complaining about this. For once it’s advantageous to be a man! Women can have all the free drinks; unrequited roadside assistance; and heavily discounted oil changes, because this belongs to us!
But I would like to issue a challenge to all the dads of the world—we can do better.
Let’s aim higher. Let’s change the narrative. Let’s take the kids to the grocery store; learn to make consistently-not-burned grilled cheese; figure out how to collapse and unpack the stroller; be creative, be fun, be involved.
I will be sad if there’s not at least a little fanfare when Bowie and I go out. Like Lady Gaga says—I live for the applause. But maybe in the future, seeing a dad and his son out in public together won’t be such an anomaly.
What do you think? Have you experienced something similar? Did reading this spark a thought? Join the conversation by commenting below as we look at every and all comments because ultimately we’re doing this together.