So, stop me if you’ve heard this one.
This dad walks into Starbucks with his daughter …
If our blog pods intersect at all, you’ve seen the debate.
It began after a dad performed an artful bun construction on his daughter’s head at the coffee house. This brought the white-upper-middle-class crowd to its feet in applause and wonder. That led to Blogageddon.
No fair, grumbled moms.
Mamas wipe arses and noses and clean vomit and paint and feces, sometimes in combinations you don’t want to know about. They pack lunches that go uneaten, brave carpool and play dates and assembly.
Dad gets the ice cream and gummi bears and baseball tickets.
Moms get germ-crawling ENT waiting rooms.
So, dad can suck it. Right?
Not exactly. You can’t tell me a dad’s doing wrong by doing what a dad can. It’s how we treat him when he does that needs adjusting.
Thing is, I think it’s dumb to applaud a brother for a bun.
Who among us needs actual physical applause? Besides Ashley Wagner, Lindsey Stirling and the dude on the CarMax commercial.
We clap for a kid when he does poopie like a big boy on the big-boy toilet.
Applause should be for events you by tickets to see.
Or by events that move you. Not to celebrate bowel movements.
Applause, it itself, is for skaters, violinists and the dude on the CarMax commercial.
Ever heard of a Bronx cheer?
Definition one is a raspberry. Like Archie Bunker or a 3-year-old would use as a retort to an intelligent argument. It’s also sarcastic praise for something easy, like recording three outs against any baseball team without giving up nine or 10 runs.
It’s sarcasm masked by a dollop of icing that can’t mask the sarcasm. When we applaud a parent – mom or dad – for simple acts of parenthood, it feels a little like a Bronx Cheer.
Someone asked a CEO of a unique local company recently to add parking spots for outstanding sales managers. He bit his lip, considered his words, paced a bit, considered his words again, covered his mouth, then uttered “**** no.”
That would be like applause, for doing our jobs. Is that what we want?
What does that say about our standards?
Baselines smell a little like stereotypes. They’re often ugly.
Yet, they hold the universe together. We couldn’t tell hot from cold or up from down without them. We couldn’t distinguish health-food cookies from the good stuff – those with real butter and chocolate chips and no fancy vegan substitutes.
The baseline for moms, on the great spectrum, is high. It’s somewhere just below saints and dignitaries, and just above Peace Corps volunteers and soup-kitchen cooks.
The baseline for dads, on the great spectrum, is low. It’s somewhere just below golf cart drivers and and just above the dude with the shovel who follows the elephants in the circus. (Don’t get me started on how dad is portrayed on TV).
It’s a matter of perspective. And it takes a generation to budge most baselines.
The buns wrapped and teams coached and sweetheart dances attended by dads today won’t move the needle until the next generation, at least.
Dads shouldn’t get standing ovations for buns or hand-holding in parking lots or for remembering to buckle a kid in a car seat.
Just as we shouldn’t say “Larry Fitzgerald is SO articulate!” after an interview, because he did happen to go to the University of Pittsburgh for four years before he became a professional football player.
Just as we shouldn’t tell our waiter in a Mexican restaurant “your English is SO good!” because he just might be a fourth-generation American and English major at the local university.
Instead, how about we say, “great interview, Larry Fitzgerald, as always.” Or ask the waiter, “where are you from?”
How about we say “I appreciate all you do for me and for our kids” to our significant others? How about we say “damn nice bun, there, sparky,” when a dad whips one together right there among the lattes and laptops. And leave it at that.
A mom at the field on a soccer Saturday flipped off her flip flops and kept her son’s legs warmed up with a little game of pass. Impressive. But I didn’t applaud her. Why should I? She’s a mom being a mom. Impressive, yes. But she’s just doing her job.
Same as me.
That’s not to say she didn’t deserve a little recognition.
Even if her form needed work.
“C’mon, mom,” I said with a smile as I passed. “Good form. Nose over toes. You know the drill.”
She laughed, but she got the message.
Good on you, mom.
Imagine if I – and everyone by field A – stopped to applaud?
# # #
So, a mom goes to soccer practice and kicks the ball with her son …
Stop me if you’ve heard this one.