By Andrew Knott of Explorations of Ambiguity
As the dad of three children under age 5, Jason had become accustomed to strangers showering him with praise for performing mundane parenting duties like caring for his children in public for five minutes.
“The thing no one tells you about fatherhood,” Jason said, “is that it is a huge ego boost. I mean, practically all I have to do is walk out of the house with my kids and there will be someone waiting there to praise me for being an involved father. It’s almost creepy. For example, one day I went to check the mail with my son and a lady waiting at the bottom of the driveway called me ‘Super Dad.’ I barely had pants on. It is so great!”
Unfortunately, years of such societal conditioning set Jason up for huge disappointment when last week he took all three of his children grocery shopping and failed to receive any congratulatory comments from fellow shoppers.
“I have to say, I was kind of bummed,” Jason said when reached for comment after the 10-minute shopping trip during which he purchased a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread, and five boxes of M&Ms for some reason.
“I mean, I did everything. I put the kids in the car, drove to the store, got them out of the car, put two of them in the shopping cart while the third walked, and meandered around the store for several minutes. You would think, after all that, at least one person would praise me for being a paragon of fatherhood and masculinity toward which all other men should strive. It’s really the least they could do.”
Despite his disappointment, Jason vowed to continue being an involved father.
“This experience was rough, but I won’t stop trying to earn the praise of strangers,” Jason said. “I guess I’ll just have to up my dad game even more. As a matter of fact, I think I’ll take all the kids to the mall today. If someone doesn’t commend me for my bravery while we’re there or, at the very least, profile me in the New York Times, then I might just have to give up.”
A version of this post was first published on Explorations of Ambiguity
About the Author
Andrew is a writer from Orlando, Florida. His work has appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Higgs Weldon, RAZED, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Defenestration Magazine, Scary Mommy, Flash Fiction Magazine, and Paste Magazine. He also writes on his website, Explorations of Ambiguity, and you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. His first book, Fatherhood: Dispatches From the Early Years, is available now.