“Remember; never, ever refer to Dads babysitting. It’s not babysitting if he’s watching his own kids.” Wise enough words from my Mother in Law. The thought of parenting advice from your mother in law might make most people cringe, but, in general, I get beneficial comments. I agree with the premise, he can’t actually baby sit that which is referred to as “the fruit of his loins.” It’s his darn fruit. He needs to take care of it.
A couple of years after my MIL’s words, I noticed it was becoming a trend on some of the mommy blogs I would occasionally stumble upon. I’m not one for reading, especially from people who seem to be more than just surviving their lives. And goes double for those whose children are thriving under their care. In any case, the refrain “dads don’t babysit” was gaining popularity. And it got me thinking.
I strongly agree that dads watching kids is no big deal. It’s what they sign up for. They bought a ticket for the ride didn’t they? So with that comes the duty to care and tend for the little seedlings that have sprouted. Moms don’t expect high fives and nights off for gaming because they spent two hours caring for their kids. I did actually demand a car with a red bow in my driveway for Christmas after an afternoon in the mall the weekend before Christmas, with four children. I got a red pullover. Close enough.
But it got me thinking. Dads don’t babysit, that’s true. But isn’t it at least partly because no one would pay for the care that dads provide. Seriously, think about it. Would you pay someone if you walked in the front door to the sight of two naked toddlers,sitting on the kitchen counter, eating cereal out of the box? Probably not. Would you pass along the name of the person—adult—who taught your two year old son to play baseball…..in the house? I suppose if you owned a window company or something.
Dads think it’s ok, even acceptable, to take kids up on the roof of the house. Show them around. Dads teach kids to use the monkey bars by standing on the opposite side and yelling “Come on!” Dads think asking “what do you want for dinner?” is a perfectly acceptable question, and that basing a menu on the preferences of toddlers who find cereal “too crunchy” is reasonable. Dads take kids on bike rides, across interstate bridges, and try to clean up the blood before mom sees. Dads say yes to second doughnuts, and believe that giving a toddler a gaming remote, while they’re gaming, counts as interaction. Dads say “if someone hits you, hit them back.” Dads tell two year olds to not be afraid of the dark. Dads make kindergartners go down waterslides.
And no matter what, Dads say “clean your room” but the follow through…..not so much.
In all honesty, the quality of care that dads provide isn’t something that moms are willing to pay for. And it’s just the kind of care that children find priceless.