I walked past Danica Patrick and had no idea it was her. I was kind of in my own head and barely noticed the cute, tiny woman who breezed by me.
We were both going to be guests on the Bethenny Show.
I may have been a little nervous. I was definitely coming back from my eighth trip to the bathroom. Peeing, yes, but also giving myself a pep talk. Reminding myself that the questions I was going to be answering were my area of expertise: being an awesome dad to my two beautiful kids. Go Daddy!!! (Dot com.) You’re welcome, Danica. I hope that makes up for me not recognizing you.
The theme of the Bethenny Show was being “unconventional.” The other celebrity guest was Angela “Big Ang” Raiola from the Mob Wives reality show. (She has definitely got her own thing going on.)
And then there was us. The stay-at-home dads. We were going toe-to-toe with the ladies (and, maybe, one dude) in Bethenny’s audience. Moms vs. Dads: The Battle for Parental Supremacy!
I was part of an all-star dad panel. The segment was going to open with an introduction of Doyin Richards, aka Daddy Doin’ Work. I think a billion people saw the picture of him holding one daughter while brushing the other’s hair. He’s black. His daughters are light skinned. Some idiots on the internet had a problem with this. He’s making the most of it, trying to educate people about involved dads of every skin color. He’s been doing to whole TV circuit, including an interview with Katie Couric.
The other dad on the panel, Lance Somerfeld, has also been interviewed by Katie Couric. (Katie, I’m waiting for that phone call. I’m sure I can pencil you in.) As a co-founder of the NYC Dads Group, he’s been kind of the go-to guy when stay-at-home dads are in the news. Makes sense. The NYC Dads Group has nearly a thousand members and was one of the first groups of its kind in the country. Lance has been at the forefront of changing the image of dads in the media for years.
And me. I’ve got a blog! So, yeah, I was kind of nervous.
But once we got out there, I got comfortable. I had to be on my game. The producers instructed us to interrupt the audience questions, each other, and Bethenny. It was a free-for-all! I tried to pipe in when I had something to add. Sometimes I got beat to the punch. And, of course, some stuff got cut from the show.
The first question was a controversial one. A woman stood up, said she respected us, then pretty much called us pedophiles. Or, at least, that is why she would not leave her daughter with a dad at a playdate. (The danger that we might be pedophiles is too great.) Doyin interjected, “that sounds like a you problem, not a dad problem.” Boom! Dude, nailed it. My answer was more practical: basically, that gender shouldn’t matter. Whoever is caring for your child needs to have your trust and the trust and comfort of your child.
Both types of responses were important.
We were all taken aback when she brought up rape and child molestation (admitting that women can also commit these heinous acts), using Law & Order as evidence of her accusation. In her mind, men must be feared around children. Apparently, we cannot control our predatory sexual desires.
Doyin illustrated in a pithy soundbite just how dumb that is.
My answer (and I believe Lance said something similar) took the scenario from hypothetical to the real world. We weren’t talking about leaving your child with some strange dude. We were talking about entrusting your child with a dad that you know to be loving, caring, and trustworthy. If you are unable to do that, it really is a “you problem.”
The three dads on the panel made a damn good team. Doyin remained charming, even when playing the role of the heavy. He directly challenged the audience members questions and assumptions. Lance used facts and figures, as well as personal anecdotes, to illustrate the changing roles of dads and the obstacles we still face. He is clearly comfortable wearing the mantle of one of the leaders of the dad movement. And me. I’m just a dude who stays home with his kids. The only answers I could give were based on my own experiences (like most of the moms and dads watching).
The only misconception I was truly offended by was something that got cut from the show. One of the audience members claimed that dads could not being as nurturing as moms. Screw that! I’ve kissed more boo-boos and healed more hurt feelings than I could possibly count. But what parent hasn’t? Dads can’t nurture? I can’t nurture. Again, I say, screw that. (But I didn’t say that.) The only thing I could think to say was how I am physically unable to pick up my two year old son without kissing and hugging him. Awwwww. (Seriously, how did they cut that!?)
I’m a dad. I let my kids take risks and get dirty. I also let my house get a little dirty (this was another alleged strike against dads). And I kiss my kids. A lot. I’m not the best dad. But I’m the best dad for MY children. Dads aren’t better stay-at-home parents than moms. But in OUR house, it works.