I want to talk to fathers, especially the new guys.
Hi. Welcome. I'm not a new guy. I'm an old guy. I come from a
generation that saw the installation of colored TVs; our morning
cartoons were interrupted by Watergate. This old guy is grizzled
and haggard and worn down and I'm here to tell you something.
You're doing it wrong.
You are gentle and firm and worthy of admiration and I
appreciate it, I do, but in your overhauling of the good dad
toolbox, you've discarded a tool you really, really
You need a Dadface.
That thing you see in the mirror? That may be the face of
a dad, but it is not a Dadface. You know the Dadface. Your dad had
one, remember? There you are on your skateboard half-pipe using his
$300 seven-iron for ramp jousting. He comes out of the garage and
doesn't say a word. He just stares. Like Magneto with a three-day
beard, he uses only the power of his splenetic visage, bending you
to his will, causing you to carry that seven-iron over to him in
perfect silence, your pancreas withering in his gaze. He didn't
need to yell.
You've tried it. Your kid races into the playground
fountain with his shoes and socks on and you think, "this is it,
I'm using the stare," and you turn your grim countenance toward
your child who promptly falls into a slump of giggling oh-my-gods
because you look like your just pooped your shorts.
Here is where you've failed.
It isn't about the way the dad's face appears. It's not
about facial expression. There is no facial expression. It's about
what's in your heart and I'm telling you, newbie, for a proper
Dadface, you have to fill your heart with a dark inflexible
vengeance. You have to suffuse your soul with a murderous
Don't tell me that emotion hasn't fluttered like a bat
through the dark recesses of your dome. I know. My son once ripped
his Pull-up off in front of my friends, wagged his butt around like
a microscopic Magic Mike and sang "Looook at mmmyyyy buuuutttt!" I
felt instant overwhelming dude pride. Fraternity. Bonhomie. I
high-fived everybody. Later that day, he mooned my in-laws and I
thought: this wouldn't happen if I were
childless. That was my Dadface being
You'll know when you've got it right. You'll catch your
kid running out the back door with a roll of duct tape, an ice
cream scoop, and a bowling ball and you'll catch his eye and he'll
freeze. You don't know what he's doing. You just know it's going to
end with 911 and a bill.
Suddenly, though your face belies nothing, nothing at all,
a Stygian wind will blow through your heart and your kid will feel
it. You will witness a miracle:
"Wow! How did these get here? I will put these away so no
one gets hurt."
Christopher lives in Chicago with his wife and kids and can also be found at deathbychildren.com.
See more of Christopher's stories here.
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