Can we all agree that t.v. dads are terrible fathers? These guys gave me the wrong idea about fatherhood from the very beginning. I had visions, trapped in the golden age of sitcoms, wrapped in a cardigan sweater, and aged in the homey aroma of pipe tobacco, that played out with me resembling a frighteningly Frankensteined combination of Mike Brady, Mr. Rogers, Ward Cleaver, and Mr. Feeney. I imagined myself sitting Boy Wonder down for a heart-to-heart talk about being a good person, the birds and the bees, or whatever other wisdom I could pass on to him that day. And we could solve any problem that faced us in twenty-one minutes, allowing for a short commercial break.
While Mike Brady and Ward Cleaver may have been good for a fireside chat on a Sunday, these boys were basically absentee fathers. Don Drapers before their time. But one t.v. dad always showed up to his kids’ school plays, stood up and cheered from the audience, and was still recklessly in love with their mother. As devoted as he was to his family, he still carved out time in a busy day for his own hobbies of fencing, frenching, and building gigantic model train sets. Gomez Addams may have been a little eccentric (Some may say, creepy, kooky, mysterious, and spooky), but he was a dedicated family man who understood how to balance his priorities. He reminds me of my dad and the kind of dad I try be.
When I look into the mirror, I don’t see a t.v. dad staring back at me because they aren’t real. Hipsters wear cardigans, dad’s wear hoodies. We have so many problems in our lives that I couldn’t hope to solve them in twenty-one years, let alone twenty-one minutes. I don’t make great dad speeches because Boy Wonder wouldn’t sit still long enough to listen. Instead I slip small nuggets of wisdom in when I can. I attend a dance recital for a toddler. Cheer along for firetruck day at daycare. Get excited for the new things he’s learned like “Purple.” “Pumpkin.” and “POOPY!”. Real life is messy, imbalanced, unfair, but at the same time, it’s absolutely perfect.