It is a weird time to be a dad. I suppose it was always thus, but I am feeling it pretty hard this year.
We strut and fret the actions of one particular man on the world stage, and yet we jog on by simplicity and a normal speaking voice to fete braggarts, loudmouths, and bullies in our own smaller sphere of influence. Because they’re our kids’ coaches sometimes, or it’s not a wise political move to ruffle feathers, or it makes us feel good when we say “you’re amazing” to people when they pat themselves on the back, over and over again. We want kindness and calmness but we happily countenance and usually recognize noise and self-promotion. It doesn’t compute for me.
We say we want men who treat people gently, who listen before they speak, and yet we spend inordinate amounts of time online arguing with people about ridiculous shit, shouting in big fifty-point font and hectoring folks who don’t agree with us at first yell. We use the cover of anonymity or groupthink to say truly bizarre things, personal things, fucking deeply weird things. We cry crocodile tears about what the world is becoming while treating people who don’t agree with us like ineducable pieces of shit. I don’t get this. It’s paper-thin.
More and more I have no idea what to tell my boys other than to just keep your head down and work. Maybe that’s always been the best advice, but I guess it’s usually struck me as a little short-sighted and maybe a little tendentious. Shouldn’t you slow down, look up every once in a while to see how things are being received? Wouldn’t that help you correct course if things are going wrong and provide some positive feedback if things are going well?
Then again, would it? Maybe the better course is to find your people, do your thing, and act like you’ve been there before. Shut out the noise, cultivate 3 or 4 folks who just get you, who would go to bat for you and you for them, do the best you can, and hope like hell that good work ripples out into the world. I don’t know. That’s what I’ve got this year.
To the dads out there who are putting their heads down, getting it done, and especially to those trying to raise good men, here’s to you. To those who have or have had dads like that, here’s to them.
Happy to let Ronnie have the last word in these and most matters. He knew what’s up.