I've come to appreciate motherhood as one of the great rewards of winning the XX chromosome lottery. But I was always a bit envious of the boys growing up. Not because they got to get dirtier, or play Little League or because they could pee standing up. No, I was envious because they had the chance to grow up to be dads.
It was always "Father" who knew "Best" in those black and white shows I watched, ad nauseum, down in the basement afterschool. And things did seem to go swimmingly for Kitten, Princess, Bud and the Beav with Dad at the helm. But these 50s sitcoms sure didn't give an 8-year-old girl viewing in syndication much hope of achieving anything beyond "better." Moms, while nice for a potential pot roast or sock darning, weren't exactly the ones dolling out sage advice at the end of the day. Eventually, some of my early small screen favorites found their way into color, but "The Courtship of Eddie's Father." "The Andy Griffith Show" and "My Three Sons" intensified my "fatherhood envy" even further--Mom was completely expendable in these widower-oriented shows.
But women's lib changed things. It changed lots of things, of course. But to this tube-centric kid the thing feminism seemed to change most was the Moms I saw on TV. Shirley Partridge got to cruise around in a totally groovy bus and play keyboards in the band. And while life wasn't always a cakewalk for divorcee Ann Romano, she and daughters Barbara and Julie seemed to do just fine "One Day at a Time." And as far as I was concerned, while probably not the best example of having "come a long way, baby," Carol Brady appeared the embodiment of "having it all" -- no professional career that I could ever detect but still got to have a full-time housekeeper and a butcher that delivered.
It seemed like media moms were finally coming into their own, perhaps at the expense of media dads.
So many of the dads on the airwaves in recent years--- Homer Simpson, Ray Romano and Phil Dunphy, to name a few -- are always good for a laugh. But they take a clear back seat to their wives when it comes to effective parenting. It's Mom who seems to know best. Dad seems to know nothing at all. And this just isn't a fair representation.
Even in the brave and somewhat-new world of on-line opining, it is the moms that are getting all the glory. It's mommy bloggers this and mommy bloggers that"we need more Dads to share their stories. I briefly considered asking my very insightful husband to sit in for the week. But the idea of a "Dada Madison" post sounded a bit too much like a Marcel Duchamp retrospective at the Chazen. So you're still stuck with me.
But I will use my time wisely, and request that this Father's Day we remind the dads in our lives that they are much more than the one-dimensional characters we see on TV. Remember to gift them with respect and appreciation, right along with that grill accessory or Home Depot gift certificate.
Sure, I see a little of Phil and Ray's "bumble" in my husband, but I also see a lot of Pa Ingalls grace under pressure, Ward Cleaver's wise words of wisdom, and Dr. Cliff Huxtable's way with a sweater. My kids' dad is more than just the yin to my yang; he's the Mike to my Carol Brady -- minus the perm, three of the kids and (much to my chagrin) the live-in housekeeper.
I have no doubt in my mind it's our shared approach to parenting that makes this family run (albeit not always) smoothly. Maybe I need to break out of my sitcom rut and turn to reruns of cop shows, like Starsky and Hutch or "Miami Vice", for "partnerships that work" guidance.
And, come to think of it, a pastel t-shirt and white Italian blazer would be a much more inspired Father's Day gift than just another tie.
How are you celebrating dad this coming Sunday? A "Father Knows Best" marathon, perhaps?comments powered by Disqus
This past week, against both my will and better judgement, I accompanied 50 or so middle school kids to the Future Problem Solvers Wisconsin State Bowl, a popular academic and skit-writing competition. It was my husband who had originally signed up to chaperone the event, thinking that spending a few days with his 11-year-old daughter and her compatriots would serve as an excellent anthropological experience. But when an unexpected work obligation made it impossible for him to attend, it was me left holding the bag
It may be a bigger waste of breath than electricity to ask my kids to turn off the lights when they leave a room. If I've nagged them once, I've nagged them a thousand times. No, I've never noticed anything amiss with their fingers. But it appears they are physically incapable of flipping a switch to the "off" position.
I want to say thank you to the Board of Education for allowing Maia to return to class, unquestionably the place she belongs, as well as to thank them for adopting the new policies. But just as importantly, I also want to thank Maia and her family for their willingness to come forward with their story.
Some clever-clogs is playing Rachmaninoff on the piano at a party, and there it is again, that oft-heard adult lament of lost opportunity from a dejected onlooker: "I wish I could play. I wish my parents hadn't let me quit music lessons. I was just a kid -- how was I to know?" It's a reasonable complaint.
If you're checking out summer camps for your child, there are many issues -- some obvious, some less so -- to keep in mind. Here's a list to keep handy when you contact camps and camp directors, looking for the perfect spot for your kids to have fun, relax, and learn this summer.
I know, in the grand scheme of things, that my kid issues, when it comes to dining out, absolutely pale in comparison to those of parents whose kids have special needs. Many kids, especially those who are on the autism spectrum, are disturbed by changes in their routine, or anxious around noisy places. They may not be able tolerate waiting for a table or standing in line. So unfortunately, many of these families just avoid eating out at restaurants altogether.
It's weird to admit this, especially in a city surrounded by as much outdoor beauty as Madison. But frankly, I'm just not that into nature. I'm more of an indoor kind of gal. Give me an afternoon at the Chazen or the Wisconsin Historical Museum over the Arboretum or Olbrich Gardens any day.
Lavish costumes, gorgeous sets, a full orchestra and a concession stand where nothing cost more than two bucks and you have a pitch perfect experience at the theater. Oh, and did I mention the ticket prices were just $10 dollars apiece? One could afford to take the whole family for a live theater experience for less than an evening at the Lego movie would cost including popcorn.
I think the first time in recent years that I've felt a real sense of shame, as both a parent and community member, was last Tuesday evening as I sat in a crowded elementary school LMC to listen to Ken Taylor, executive director of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, and his colleague, Torry Wynn, present key findings from the 2013 Race to Equity report to our PTO group.
It's Wednesday morning at Allis Elementary School on Madison's east side, and 16 third-graders -- 10 boys and six girls -- enter into an open-space classroom in typical wiggly, giggly style. Some are making goofy faces at one another, some are bouncing around hand-in-hand with friends, and others are just trying to stay out of the whirling-dervish path of activity.
Of the 789 poorly-composed, way-too-dark and out-of-focus photos currently living on my iPhone, I can count on two hands the number that show my kids and me together. And my husband is in probably no more than three or four of those.
Something kind of magical has happened these past two weeks during the Sochi Olympics. There is no question, debate or disagreement on what will be watched on television once all homework is done. Everyone in the family makes time to sit down together to watch an hour of so of the primetime televised games.
Truth be told, though, this month I'm feeling a bit cinematically fried. In some ways, I already feel like I've spent the last week or so at a film festival. A festival specializing in minute-long glimpses of ordinary lives all ending with credits that feature the ubiquitous blue thumbs-up. Yes, it's been the February of the Facebook movie.
Just last week, on precisely the same day the Momastery post was getting over a million well-deserved views, Madison mom Suzanne Buchko was telling a similar story. Not on a blog but instead in the confines of the modestly circulated Franklin-Randall Elementary School weekly newsletter.
Late last month, the Madison Metropolitan School District adopted a five-year, $27.7 million technology plan calling for all district students, including those in the primary grades, to have significantly increased access to their very own tablet or notebook computer by 2019. Some parents, as well as education professionals, questioned whether elementary-aged kids, especially kindergarteners who aren't even able to read or write yet, will gain much benefit from introducing yet another screen into their lives.
This past Monday, had winter's unrelenting weather allowed, Middleton Cross Plains School District teacher Andrew Harris would have once again been at the helm of a classroom. After nearly four years of fighting his dismissal from Glacier Creek Middle School for viewing and passing on sexually explicit material on district computers, MCPSD has been legally forced to reinstate Herris, this time as a seventh-grade science teacher at Kromrey Middle School.
In a study published last week by the National Bureau of Economic Research, academics have found that the 16 and Pregnant series may have played a significant role in the recent decrease in U.S. teen pregnancies.
In our house, sad but true, we've rarely spent the Martin Luther King holiday discussing race, social justice or the power of non-violent civil disobedience. Instead, the third Monday in January has historically been treated as just another day off school, just another long weekend. And it's been a missed opportunity.
It's not something that happens very often, but last Friday, as news of the impending arctic cold snap reached our house, my kids were rooting for Governor Scott Walker. They were rooting for him to take Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton's lead and cancel school throughout the state. They couldn't care less if he had the authority to do such a thing -- if he called off school, he'd be their hero.
Late last semester, as students were packing up their backpacks one final time before winter break, Middleton High School principal Denise Herrmann and assistant principal Lisa Jondle were co-authoring a note home to parents informing them of a widespread cheating scandal involving nearly 250 calculus students at the school.