I decided to write this poem because I spent about 30 minutes last night sobbing. I cried like I haven’t done in a while, in fact I don’t recall the last time I did. The reason might seem really strange to some – my wife cut Miles’ binky. Miles is my 2 year old and for the last few days we’ve put him to bed without the binky, but Friday night he was really begging for it and we decided it was time for him to have the cut binky in his hand so he could realize that those days are over.
Our 4 year-old Kamri went through the same process. When we cut her binky she looked at us and said “Why cut it guys?” She tried to pop it in her mouth but it wouldn’t stay, and the confused look on her face broke my heart. I knew going through the same thing with Miles would be very hard for me to do so I had Gina do it, and as I heard her in the kitchen and the kids chattering about how confused Miles was, it broke my heart again. I started to cry. Miles kept saying “Open binky” as he pulled on the remaining part of the plastic nipple. I couldn’t take it. It means so much more than just a binky. It’s a symbol of him moving on to a new phase, of him growing up, of me no longer rocking him as he has his binky in his mouth.
The next night the same thoughts came flooding into my mind and I couldn’t stop crying. I tried to dry the dishes with Gina but she saw me crying and I went to my bed and just sobbed. I felt so much sadness because Miles is growing up. I also felt slightly ashamed and embarrassed as my wife was holding and comforting me because I was crying about Miles growing up. It seems opposite of what is should be. I felt like I wasn't being a man about it, and I thought “A dad shouldn’t be doing this.” But then, the following came into my mind, “I’m not a T.V. Dad”
The Modern Sitcom Dad
Often, sitcom dads such as Homer Simpson and Raymond Barone are portrayed as selfish and mindless. Although we believe that they love their children, storylines often portray their offspring as intrusions to other, more important pursuits such as drinking beer, watching TV or playing golf. These dads invest considerable time in thinking up schemes to avoid their family, and they appear overwhelmingly uninterested in everyone else’s lives. Certainly these TV programs are not part of a grand conspiracy to attack dads, but there are enough existing examples to make many people concerned. In particular, fatherhood interest groups worry because these images have a negative influence on how very young children interpret father-child relationships.
I’m not a “TV Dad”
The message that is spoken, the one we’re all spoon-fed
Is of the clumsy fathers, disinterested, over-fed
They’ve never changed a diaper; they’ve never said a prayer
As for listening or homework, they wouldn’t even dare
It’s time someone took courage, and faced this mockery
For if there are TV fathers, one of them’s not me.
I love my wife and cherish her role, all her gifts and abilities
I like to mop and I do dishes, even fold laundry occasionally.
I try to earn a decent living, but don’t do it to “get mine”
When I come through the front door, I leave my work behind
I’ll always make some time for catch or a pretend cup of tea
There’s nothing I would rather do than be with my family
I don’t drink beer or play much golf, I’ll live if I miss the big game
The joy I feel with my kiddies around means more to me than fame
I love getting sloppy kisses and saying “I love you”
And snuggling with my little ones when the day is almost through
And I know I’m not the only one, I see many dads like me
Pushing a child on the swing or taking them for ice cream
I see other fathers fishing, their boys casting in the pond
Another father and daughter were jogging; the list could go on and on
To all the fathers around the world let’s make sure our children know
That while it may be funny, the TV dads we see
The real truth is, they’re a minority - and they’re not like you and me!
Ben Arkell – June 18 2011