Friday, November 9, 2012

The Language of Idiot Dads

It's Sunday morning and Gabe is sitting in what has to be a dirty diaper at this point, but the image of his previous blowout has me too grossed out and gun-shy confirm my suspicions. While he happily chews on a clean diaper his mother would have changed him into by now, I down a breakfast of Hershey Kisses and Pringles, wondering where the media gets off portraying the modern dad as a bumbling idiot.

The cavalcade of inept fathers depicted on television can be quite depressing. After being subjected to promo after promo for ‘Guys with Kids’ on NBC, I can’t help but wonder where capable fathers reside in the pop culture landscape.

I play the role of single dad for 36 terrifying hours each week while Summer is at the hospital for clinical nurse training on the weekends. This arrangement gives me plenty of time to contemplate the state of fatherhood in America, especially since we’re up at 5 a.m. Well, we don’t actually get up, but that’s when I attempt to bribe the boy back to sleep with a bottle. He generally shows his appreciation by puking in my bed. I cover it up and allow him to act like nothing happened, because I’m one of those cool, relatable dads.

Great parents appreciate the importance of forming good habits at a young age. A lack of adult supervision doesn’t mean the two of us are free to lie around eating garbage and being filthy. I drive that point home by feeding him a hearty breakfast of turkey and sweet potatoes – the building blocks for a future major league prospect.

At a certain point it becomes critical for young children to get some rest. After contemplating bathing Gabe and changing him into clean clothes, I pass in favor of playing with every toy in the house and watching Lee Corso dance around the ESPN College Gameday set in full leprechaun garb. Then we watch the Iowa Hawkeyes attempt to play football. The traditional name for this activity is nap time.

Okay, so maybe the media’s representation of the bumbling idiot father is not 100% fabrication, but it isn’t a completely fair example of art imitating life either.

For most of us, parenting is like picking up a second language in adulthood. Taking classes and reading books can help you familiarize yourself with a foreign language, but every bilingual person will testify there is no substitute for immersion  Sometimes you just have to go into a foreign country and figure out how to find the nearest bathroom. There are bound to be some confusing moments, but after pissing in a coat closet or two, you’ll pick up on signs and tendencies, and eventually fully understand the language and all that goes with it.

The bumbling idiocy in fatherhood is not a destination, it’s the part of the journey in which some of us piss in a coat closet on our way to figuring out the language.

But seriously, I’m pretty sure he’s sitting in shit.

Summer will be home in 14 hours.

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