June 20, 2005

Weekend Round-Up: Father's Day Edition

Mayun, what a busy weekend. Some random observations:

**We've developed a habit of taking the Llama-ettes out for one-on-one breakfasts on Saturday morning. Since there are two of us and three of them, it's a six week cycle. This week was my turn with the three year old. I've noticed that I sometimes get rather odd looks from people as I sit there with the gels, as if they're trying to figure out if I'm Mr. Divorcee and this is my visitation weekend. I'm sometimes tempted to jump up and yell, "No, no! It's just breakfast! The Missus is at home with the other two! Honest!"

**Saturday afternoon, the eldest Llama-ette went to one birthday party while the other two went to another. Immediately those parties were over, the two older girls went on to another birthday party, this one a sleepover at a neighbor's house. Such is the social whirlwind in which we operate.

I went along with the eldest to her first party, which was held at a putt-putt golf course. She was one of only two girls there, but enjoyed herself nonetheless. Somehow or other I got drafted as Official Cameraman of the tourney, so found myself scurrying back and forth among three foursomes of small kids, trying to snap at least one shot of each one at the tee.

Later on, the kids had the ritual pizza and cake under a tent. It was a Star Wars theme banquet and featured one of the more bizarre cakes I've seen, one designed to look like the lava field in ROTS, complete with flames done in icing. In the middle of it sat Darth Vader's head and upper chest, as if he was partially submerged in molten rock. It had a slightly unsettling, although I'm sure unintentional, effect, although apparently I was the only one who thought so. As I sat there, I got musing about what other big movie scenes could be depicted on birthday cakes - Omaha Beach from Saving Private Ryan? The Titanic going down? Manhattan frozed solid in The Day After Tomorrow? (My musings may have been slightly lurid because I had spent an industrious hour or so before the party giving the whiteflies what for and, in the process, inhaling rayther a lot of malathion fumes. Mmmmmm....toxic spray....mmmmm.)

** Speaking of movies, the Missus and I saw Mr. and Mrs. Smith Saturday night. It was okay - sort of a cross between James Bond and the Thin Man - and some of the bickering-couple jokes were quite amusing, but as a whole it wasn't as entertaining as it could have been and the ending left a lot hanging. I will say that Angelina Jolie was looking pretty fine. I'm not sure if I'd put her on my Freebie List, but she would at least get serious consideration. Some brilliant couple brought an eight or nine year old boy to the show. He sat right behind us and kept asking questions. In one scene, Jolie dresses up as a dominatrix in order to get at an illegal arms merchant who she, as a professional assassin, is supposed to kill. She indulges him with a riding crop for a few seconds before breaking his neck. Good luck explaining that to a nine year old.

** Of course, we paid dearly yesterday for all the Saturday birthday party celebration - the two older gels came home exhausted. The three year old, meanwhile, had conned the babysitter into letting her stay up late while we were out for dinner and the movie. It's interesting how that level of tiredness affects different personalities, laying bare the Enemy Within. The eldest gets extremely tempermental, the five year old starts whining and the three year old, well, she becomes something of a berserker, taunting and teasing even more than usual. And I won't even begin to describe her own personal form of bio-terror, except to say that we wind up going through a whoooole lot of undies.

**All of this hurly-burly made this article in this weekend's WaPo magazine especially, well, teeth-grinding. In an effort to get just the right tone for Father's Day, I suppose, the article tells the tale of a woman in Massachusetts who decided to track down the anonymous sperm doner who fathered her seven and three year old children, then fly out to California with the kids in order to meet him and, for lack of a better word, bond.

Now I'm rather agnostic over the whole business of sperm banks, with the attendant issues surrounding doner identification and how and when one goes about explaining all this to the kid. I suppose there are all sorts of circumstances involved, each case requiring its own determination of what is appropriate. What got me about this particular story was the woman's hell-bent effort to create what amounts to Insta-Dad. Here we have a man she's never even laid eyes on before, much less anything else. She goes all the way across country with her two small children and stays with them in this guy's apartment. Not only that, she immediately turns over a significant amount of parental authority to the guy and starts working hard to get the kids to call him "Dad".

[Activate Rant Function.] I'm sorry, but this is insane, and not just because the woman in the article seems to have some serious judgement problems with respect to blind trust. This man may be the kids' father, but he is not, repeat not, their Dad. The former is a simple matter of biological fact. The latter is an intensely complex jumble of physical, intellectual and emotional bonds, built up over years and years of day-to-day close contact. It is something that cannot come about instantly, no matter how hard somebody may want it. And furthermore, it doesn't come about because the guy takes the kids to the aquarium and Disney Land and wears matching "Best Buddies" t-shirts with them. I'm sick to death of the notion that fatherhood is all about "sharing special moments" with children. That's a bunch of crap. Being a Dad means getting to have good times with your kids, of course, but it also - and much more importantly - means being their teacher, their counselor, their coach, their judge, their jury and, on occassion, their firing squad. This is a full time job and frankly, as someone who has devoted more energy to it than I ever knew I even had, I am deeply offended, no mortified, that this woman believes all the fatherly needs that she dimly perceives her children have can somehow be instantly gratified by a sudden visit to Mr. Doner. I'm not saying that Mr. Doner couldn't become Dad some day, but he isn't yet . (Judging by the article, I'd say he is at best ambivalent about seriously taking on the responsibility, btw.) This wretched woman is deluding herself if she really thinks he is. [Deactivate Rant Function.]

Posted by Robert at June 20, 2005 10:28 AM

I have had that same feeling of trying to avoid shame taking one of my kids out to eat. I also find myself assuming that other dads alone with their kids ARE divorced. Hardly seems fair.

Props on the rant as well. There is a certain cultural disregard for dad's role in the parenting thing. I personally hate when my wife's friends assume I can't handle taking care of the kids for a couple of days when she is away...

Posted by: LB Buddy at June 20, 2005 11:49 AM

How about a kiddie birthday cake featuring gwyneth paltrow's head in seven? Or a squealing Ned Beatty from Deliverance?

Posted by: Bill from INDC at June 20, 2005 11:54 AM

When I see the single parent out with the kid, it's usually the mood of the kids and how or how much they talk with the parent that makes me wonder if it's a divorce situation. These days everone is so busy that it's the juggling parent who takes the kids out to eat while the other one works late or has the Tupperware party.

The WaPo article sounds like a rehash of Made in America: didn't work then, won't work now. But at least Whoopi had the sense to consider Ted just what he was - a donor, and nothing more. The rest is pure Hollywood "it could happen."

Posted by: tee bee at June 20, 2005 12:48 PM

Amen on the rant. I could never be a sperm donor (even when I was broke). If I'm going to sire kids, I'm going to be the one reading them to bed, just like my dad did for me.
AS for movies on cake, there's Jason, or Freddy, or the Alien.

Posted by: rbj at June 20, 2005 01:43 PM

You hardly ever see an adult and a child out together having an ice cream, or whatever, these days, without someone giving a puzzled glance and wondering if they saw the kid on an Amber Alert on the morning news.

Really! She's my niece! I'm not abducting her!

Posted by: The Colossus at June 20, 2005 02:47 PM

You know you could replace breakfast with lunch and go to Hooters. Then everybody thinks the Missus is out of town and you're out enjoying the scenery.

Posted by: phin at June 20, 2005 04:06 PM

FULL DISCLOSURE: I just have to say that the Missus is probably busting her gut laughing at me as she reads all this, since she's the one who does most of the day to day heavy lifting in re the Llama-ettes. So don't get the funny idea that I'm Mr. Mom.

On the other hand, those weird looks I get whenever I'm out and about with one or more the girls are both genuine and rather disturbing.

Posted by: Robert the LB at June 20, 2005 04:33 PM

Hmm. A slightly different situation seems to occur when my daughter and I dine out together without the other two family members, as happens occasionally now that her brother is in college 2500 miles away. Sarah's 17, tall, blonde, and quite beautiful, while I'm 52 with a gray beard. The looks I get from the female half of other couples seems to be saying "dirty old man!" more often than "divorced dad?". I'm not really sure my daughter has noticed, but my wife found it quite amusing when I told her.

After the first time this happened, which I found a little disturbing, I decided to just grin and let them think what they want. Next time perhaps I'll even wink.

Posted by: Manny at June 20, 2005 08:34 PM

Wait, did you say donor identification, or boner identification?

Posted by: Lord Floppington at June 21, 2005 12:44 PM

you'd have done better running off 'prizzi's honor'on tape, but then i don't suppose that wd exactly do it as an anniversary celebration: sitting in the basement playroom in front of the old t and v and shooing the kiddies back to bed from time to time. still, i think 'prizzi etc' was probably a far better film (haven't seen mr & mrs and don't intend to)--it sounds as if the whole premise of the latter was bodily lifted from the former and given a thin coating of up-to-date smut. whereas prizzi's was both genuinely funny and genuinely horrifying with a nice little bit of suspense at the end. those who haven't seen it ought to. they don't make them like that anymore.

Posted by: mom at June 22, 2005 10:53 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?