Thursday, July 11, 2013

Helping Girls Find Their Misplaced Dads

This shirt is making the funny-meme-baby-T-shirt rounds at an Internet near you. If, like me, you're pink/teal color blind, it reads: "It's simple...I'm a princess, mommy is a Queen, and daddy is around here somewhere..." (commas mine, capitalization errors theirs.)

Not much bothers me as a dad, since on the parenthood scale, my needle more often points toward "Buffoon" -- anyone who's watched me try to stick a pair of overalls on a wiggly child would agree. Sometimes I do wonder why all dads in commercials for household items wear the same plain gray t-shirts that make Bill Belichick look like Versace, but then I look at what I'm wearing and shrug. Otherwise, when a dad does something inexcusably stupid on TV or in movies that causes the mom to grimace, I usually just make a mental note -- don't do what that guy just did.

But I've never gotten lost in the house. Or anywhere on my own property. So I'm not entirely sure what the shirt means, not sure who finds it funny, not sure if it's meant as a commentary on the emotional vacancy of dads and husbands in some families, or if it's just the Easter Bunny hid him and didn't leave good enough clues. I'm also not sure where to tell these young ladies to start if they are truly interested in finding and reconnecting with their dad. Still, I'll try:

--Where did you see him last? Did you have him yesterday? What did you do with him when you got home? Throw him on the end table? Have you checked your pockets? You didn't wash him, did you? I've told you how many times not to leave him just lying around, your little brothers will carry him off and Lord knows where we'll find him. IF we find him...IF they didn't put him in their mouths, he's a choking hazard, you know...

OK, maybe your dad isn't keys or hot pink nail polish. Then where could he be? As the shirt says, he's around here somewhere, so we'll rule out strip clubs, bars, and racinos. For now. Based strictly on my own experiences, here are some more places to look for your dad:

1. Is he outside swearing at the lawnmower? If he's anything like my daughter's dad, he fully expects all machinery to work right without any upkeep, maintenance, or care on his part. That's why they're called MACHINES. The minute a machine stops working, even if you leave it out in the rain for four straight days, it stops being a machine and starts being "a big stupid pile of shit." Check for loud noises in the backyard and maybe a separated shoulder from overzealously pulling on the cord.

2. Is he in the shed? Unequivocally the answer is no. Don't even look there. You're more likely to find David Attenborough filming about glaciers in your shed than your dad.

3. Is he in the closet? Sometimes my kids' dad hides in the closet when we play the "chase each other all over the house game" and he needs to catch his breath. Oh, you weren't playing that game? Try there anyway, there may be cookies nobody told you about. Hurry, before they're gone.

4. Is he in the laundry room? You may have not thought to look there after he was banned for turning Mom's pants into capris and her capris into bloomers. Both honest mistakes...but don't let your mother fool you into thinking she's never shrunk anything in her life either. Wink, wink.

5. Is he under that big pile of couch cushions and Dora blankets over there? You were playing fort, right? Of course you were, everyone plays fort. Maybe he's still buried under all those big pillows and you forgot about him.

6. Is he at work? Maybe he's not actually "around here somewhere" at the moment, or maybe "around here" means "in the same area code." But maybe he's off earning money for you to go to college someday and to fund your activities. Try giving him a call at his work number. If that doesn't work, try his cell phone. If that doesn't work, try his beeper. If that doesn't work, try his pager. If that doesn't work, try his administrative assistant. If none of those work, try the strip club.

7. No no no, one of those will work! He'll pick one of them up. He always picks up when you call. Your dad is there, just go find him. OK, first take off that stupid shirt, throw it in the old rag basket in the basement, and then go find your dad. You just weren't looking hard enough. You don't even have to call him king.

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