I missed the Dad 2.0 Summit this year; which is basically the official annual conference for daddy bloggers.
Conveniently, The New York Timespublished an article on their website a few days ago, which does a great job of filling me in on the conversations that took place there without me.
While I wish I would have known about Dad 2.0 Summit beforehand, because I totally would have flown out to Houston to been a part of it as I am now marking my calendar for next year, at the same time it sort of sounds like the main takeaway from Dad 2.0 is the same point I have been writing about for years now on The Dadabase:
Dads don’t want to be seen as idiots who make messes and who are sub-par parents.
It’s subtle, yet very present in media. I feel that there are still too many companies getting it wrong. Allow me to critique the Robitussin commercial featured at the top of this post, for example.
Of this 17 second commercial, the first 2 seconds are done right.
We are introduced to a mom and dad who are together putting their baby to sleep. They lovingly look at each other as if to mutually say, “I love you and our new addition to our family.”
But then, from 0:03 to 0:06, the dad coughs, waking the baby and earning a frustrated and disapproving look from his wife. By 0:07, we see the dad give his wife a pat on the back right before he walks away to go grab some Robitussin for his cough, seen from 0:10 to 0:12.
There is some resolve by 0:13, when the dad returns, this time not coughing, as the mom is able to lay down the now sleeping baby in the crib.
Okay, so that commercial wasn’t horrible, but it needs some revisions to earn the respect of dads like me.
If they had to make it to where the dad coughs and wakes up the baby, he could have appeared to be less of a [jerk] if, when he came back from taking the Robitussin, he took the baby from his wife, allowing her to go back to bed, then putting the baby to sleep himself.
When you really consider the role of the dad in this commercial, all he really did besides just stand there, was that he made life harder for his wife.
And seriously, pause this commercial on 0:05. Check out the look on the wife’s face…
No husband ever wants to receive that look from his wife.
But when I see a commercial like this, I am not offended, but I do think, “There’s just another dad-bashing commercial feeding into concept that the housewife desperately needs another product because of the mess her husband made.”
Part of my passion as a daddy blogger is attempting to make it taboo for dads to be portrayed as the classic idiot in ads. I’m not even asking to be seen as the hero. I’ll take neutral at this point.
Last weekend my wife and I watched a movie on Netflix that evidently no one has seen but us and Taylor Swift, who recently promoted it on the radio:
It’s called Happythankyoumoreplease. Near the end, the protagonist, played by Josh Radnor of How I Met Your Mother, shares this very relevant and true-to-life concept:
“This writer that I knew once told me this great thing. He said that every five years he realizes what an [idiot] he was five years ago. Every five years, like clockwork, he goes, ‘Man, I was such an [idiot] five years ago.’ So if we accept this, that means, everything we think and feel and say now, in five years, will just be… embarrassing.”
Welcome to my life. For most recent 20 of the 30 years of my existence, I have been looking back a few years at the “more naive” version of myself, patting myself on the back for no longer being that out-of-touch, irrelevant, and immature.
Yes, this is something I’m always thinking about. So basically I’m constantly living in this illusion that I finally am getting things figured out.
But unlike the cast of the Eighties’ sitcom, Head of the Class, I’m the guy roaming the hallways who is simply trying to find the class, much less be the head of it.
Granted, this “too little, too late” situation I get trapped in totally translates into my life as a dad. I look back to when my wife was pregnant with our son and think, “I said some pretty embarrassing stuff. I kind of made an idiot of myself.”
Who was I to say that my wife would definitely not get an epidural
or was going to breast feed that long or that we would let our son sleep in the bed with us?
Wrong, wrong, and wrong again. I didn’t know what I was talking about for a lack of experience: It was just speculation.
And this raises a great point about everything I write about here on this blog: Am I just being an idiot with every 400 word dose I toss out each day?
As a dad, I feel it’s my duty to nail down the plan as far as how I plan to raise my son. I need a plan.
I get it- plans backfire. But parenting isn’t something you can just wander into and hope it all works out.
Because if anything is naive, that is. I’d rather talk too much than do too little.
I know nothing about how to take care of a baby, yet. But what I do know, and what I have always known when it comes to babies is how to make them laugh and play with them. In the way that women instinctively speak in a high, falsetto voice to babies (I’ve read that that’s the frequency babies hear when they’re that young, as opposed to a normal speaking voice), I automatically become any given idiot monster when I find myself in a situation where a baby is looking at me, waiting for some kind of confirmation.
The default character I play while entertaining babies could best be described as Popeye mixed with Grimace mixed with Beaker: A smiling, squinty-eyed, beeping mutant. But what can I say? Babies like me when I am this fictional goofball.
And really, that’s what happens to any adult when a baby is set in front of them. Adults become ridiculous. That’s one of the many reasons people like babies. Because adults get a free pass to act stupid. All in the name of making a baby happy.
Needless to say, I am so looking forward to my free pass.
All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography: