I really enjoyed this. I hope you do, too.
Today my Spider Man Underoos are in a bunch over this post on the ever-reliable Huffington Post called “The Default Parent“. Forwarded to me by Mrs. Nostrikethat, I had my suspicions on what the post might contain– and I was right.
Perhaps you’re wondering what a “default parent” is?
Are you the default parent? If you have to think about it, you’re not. You’d know. Trust me. The default parent is the one responsible for the emotional, physical and logistical needs of the children. Spoiler alert: It’s typically the one with the uterus.
Hurray! I am not responsible for the emotional, physical, or logistical needs of my children!
I would make a plea for these kinds of articles to stop, but without stories about interrupted bathroom time the Mommy Blog economy would collapse.
HOWEVER, I have a hilarious idea for a blog post, it’s called “Letting Women Out of the Kitchen Makes Them Uppity”.
The Rules of the Games
I wasn’t particularly athletic as a kid, but even I managed to lace up some cleats and gamely play a few seasons of soccer. Team sports and games are foundational experiences in a boy’s life. The lessons we learn as boys on the field help shape our worldview as men.
1) Support your teammates. We don’t trash talk the guys on our side, even if they’re not very good.
2) Win or lose together. The team wins or the team loses, and we all contribute to that effort.
3) Be a good sport. Graceful in defeat, humble in victory. No one likes a whiner.
4) Play your position. You have to stay in the zone you were assigned. If you’re on the left side, stay on the left side. If you’re a running back, don’t block for the QB. No one person can do it all, not even LeBron James.
5) Every position is equally important. The corollary to rule number 2. We all have a role to play on the team. The goalie is no more important than the striker, the quarterback no more than the kicker.
These are not exclusive to men, but you would be hard pressed to find a functioning adult male who hasn’t internalized them to some degree. Sure, we have our sociopaths too, but if you want to understand at a fundamental level how a man looks at the world and relationships, it’s through the lense of these rules.
This notion of the Default Parent concept breaks them.
Every single one.
It’s offensive to me as because the core premise is that the parenting roles are separate, unequal, and favor the Uterus-Americans when everything I believe is that while the roles have different challenges, they are both equal in importance and vital to the success of the Family Team.
So my plea to you all is don’t be the kid on the team that puts down everyone else, complains they are carrying the team, and is never in position.
Or you’re going to lose.
Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment and tell me what you think.
One of the few upsides of having 1.5 more children than average is the gift of laughter. Specifically, laughter at all of the stupid things you used to do when you only had one kid.
Remember when we said we would never parent with television?
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Hahah. Heh.
Oh those were the days.
One of the most bizarre rituals I used to partake in was the Giant Elementary School Birthday Party.
Number 1: I Don’t Need More Friends
When your are in the throes of raising your oldest child, there are a lot of things that seem like a good idea at the time. One of them is the massively large and/or overly elaborate birthday party that you throw for them in Kindergarten or first grade. Like pretty much everything else we do for our first child this is A) largely a mistake and 2) doesn’t really benefit anyone except us. Here’s how it works.
You, the parent, drop anywhere from $300-$500 on a pre-packaged Birthday Experience Center involving inflatables, animatronic critters, and/or an 18-Wheeler loaded with video games. In return, you get a chance to impress the other parents in your kid’s class and hopefully make some friends for the next 4-5 years until they all split up for middle school, because if there’s one lesson we’ve all learned as adults it’s that if you need temporary friends the fastest way to get them is to flash the cash.
You also get to find out who “Ian” is and why he’s always on Red.
You justify this to yourself by adding up the cost of cake, ice cream, pizza, a carton of Marlboros, a bottle of Jack Daniels, a Johnny Cash CD and attorney’s fees for representing you when you lose custody of your children and decide it makes perfect sense to outsource the entire experience to a Birthday Experience Center.
The moment of truly poetic irony comes when you tell yourself that you don’t really have the time to do all of this anyway, even though this is your first child and YOU WILL NEVER HAVE MORE FREE TIME than this.
Number 2: The Trauma
I attended a Chuck-e-Cheese pizza party once in 1984. I must have done well enough to end up on someone’s “Top 10 Friends” list, or at least the “Top 15 Just In Case Someone On The Top 10 RSVPs No”.
I remember Loudness, Skee-ball, Pizza, and Dragon’s Lair. And tickets. Lots and lots of tickets.
Returning to the Lair of the Rat in 2014 was a completely different experience.
I freely admit that as an adult my tastes have gotten substantially more lame.
I no longer “Rock Out” with or without anything else that might rhyme with “rock” hanging out with me.
I listen to classical music mostly because it’s a reasonable replacement for Marlboro’s and Jack Daniels and far more acceptable to be caught consuming in a minivan full of children.
My idea of a fun Friday night is staring at a camp fire, listening to the crickets chirp, and enjoying some Chateau Vin du Box, vintage le Tuesday Last Week.
Overall, very lame indeed.
The occasion this time was Faceman‘s second best friend’s birthday party.
This year all of my son’s classmates must come from extremely wealthy homes because we’ve turned down invitations to:
- The 1956 Yankees-Dodgers World Series
- A backyard BBQ with U2
- The Dali Lama’s reading of The Vagina Monologues
It’s only October.
Fortunately, Faceman is actually child #3 and I don’t need or want any more friends. Also if we ask our son “Who is Declan?” and the response is “Declan who?” we’re not going because it involves messing with one of our carpools for swimming and that dog don’t hunt.
As someone who is no longer 48″ tall, Chuck E. Cheese has lost some of the magic for me. My son seemed to enjoy running around and putting coins in machines to get a varying number of tickets out in a bizarre parody of strip club economics.
The pizza was a member of the pizza species in the same way that Taco Bell is Mexican food.
There was an Art History major in a giant rat costume who challenged the Birthday Boy to an air guitar contest. And lost. Hopefully on purpose because the dude was only 7 and can’t reliably spell “guitar” without turning one of the letters backwards in an adorable fashion.
There were animatronic characters lip-syncing to muppet characters displayed on flat screen TVs covering pop music from 10 years ago.
It was loud, cringeworthy, and tacky beyond description.
The kids loved it. Especially the Giant Talking Rat part.
I looked for a corner and curled up into a fetal position and silently sang We Built This City to myself over and over.
Number 3: The Mingling
The “best” part about these affairs is that they are conventionally not “drop off” parties, so the adults are contractually obligated to stay and mingle. This works really well because even in our fairly affluent and progressive community it’s still 99% of the time the moms who do these things so they get together and talk about particle physics or whatever it is women talk about when their men are not in earshot.
Mrs. Nostrikethat, however, is wise to these games, and so I am sent to make nicey-nice and be the legally responsible adult. Also, it’s easier than dealing with the other 3 kids.
As a dad, I can often get a lot more accomplished than a mom in a room full of other moms. Normally, I am completely ignored (just like high school), which mean I can just sit there, read my Kindle and collect gossip.
I am also really good at the “sit near a group and slowly move into it” move, where I just sit near a group of women who are talking and make eye contact with the speakers an an assertive but hopefully not sexually-harassing way and eventually incorporate myself into the conversation. This is a useful technique for when I have an opinion on something I hear being discussed, like the Halloween Party debacle at the school.
Mostly though the other moms don’t know what to do with me, so I’m left to fend for myself.
Just like high school.
It’s not that those of us with N > 2.5 kids are directly judging those of you with less, it’s more like we are marathoners listening to people who are training for their first 5K: everyone’s race is hard, we’ve just done a little more a little longer. Feel free to keep inviting us to your birthday parties, and we will dutifully consider at least a third of them before pressing the Delete key because this Franzia isn’t going to drink itself and you don’t need to impress me, nor I you.
Just the opposite of high school.