Parenting Perspectives: Mercer interprets ‘Dadlish’I’m an old man. More specifically, I’m an old dad. It became official Aug. 13 on the way back from visiting family in Wisconsin.
By: J. Shane Mercer, INFORUM
I’m an old man.
More specifically, I’m an old dad.
It became official Aug. 13 on the way back from visiting family in Wisconsin. On that day, within the span of 10 minutes or so, I did the following:
1. Scolded my daughters for whining about the restaurant at which we would eat by telling them that there are some children who don’t have food (or something like that).
2. Exclaimed “Good stinking grief!” to the lady at the restaurant counter when she told me that the total for my family of five would be $36 (In my defense, by meal’s end, it was clear that I was justified in my suspicion that it wasn’t worth 36 bucks).
But let’s face it, I already knew that I’m not super-hip and “with it.” That truth hit me in the face while trying to pick out some blue jeans at a department store.
“Let’s see ... Do I want the stone-washed, boot cut, relaxed fit, distressed, retro blue Levi’s or the acid-washed, tapered, classic skinny, just-slightly-darker-than-the-next-pair brand I’ve never heard of?”
So from the Great Wall of Denim, I’ve gotta try to find a pair of jeans that doesn’t make me look like I’m stuck in the decade I grew up in while simultaneously not trying too hard to look like that hip dad who’s kids’ friends think is so cool. Dah! I just want some pants!
But, to be honest, it doesn’t bother me as much as you might think. I sort of wear my pop-culture disconnect as a crown. I don’t have the time or energy to worry about which designer said what color shirt was going to be acceptable on the first week of the month before Labor Day. I have much graver concerns.
I am tasked with herding three human beings into physical, spiritual and moral maturity without them receiving any holes they weren’t born with, and in hopes that, by some miracle, they don’t end up sitting on the stage of the “Dr. Phil Show” sobbing into a handkerchief.
And it’s not like I’m starting with people interested in realizing their fullest potential. Their heart’s deepest longings seem to be reserved for the likes of Cheetos and “Scooby-Doo.”
It’s a lot of pressure. For a moment, step into the Dad psyche. Let me translate what I said on that fateful day Aug. 13 from English into Dadlish:
English: “Some kids don’t have food.”
Dadlish: “Oh, no! My children are so devoid of a moral compass they can’t appreciate the fact that they have more material wealth than the vast majority of mankind throughout the ages? How have I failed? They are surely destined for a life of crime. That’s it! We’re selling all our possessions and joining an Amish community.”
English: Regarding a $36 tab: “Good stinking grief!”
Dadlish: “Money, money, money. I should be getting some cash saved for my kids’ education. I’m not even saving enough for retirement! Did I pay the mortgage before we left? Oh, no! I paid the mortgage, and I can’t remember if I made the bank deposit to cover it. That’s it. We’re going to sell all our possessions and see if an Amish community will take us in.”
I trust you can see the subtle differences between the two languages.
So go ahead and laugh you 19-year-old hipster, spending your warm August day fretting over whether your earth-tone scarf matches your earth-tone knitted hat and wool socks. I have bigger fish to fry.
I’m a dad.
Shane Mercer is the community content coordinator at The Forum and lives in Fargo with his wife, twin 8-year-old daughters and 4-year-old son.