I got a zoo membership for Father's Day this year and while normally that would seem an odd gift for someone who rarely gets to the zoo, becoming a dad has upped my zoo attendance more than a little -- this morning's visit was our second of the season already, just me and my little one -- and so it feels to me like the perfect present.
And the place was packed. But since it's nearly Father's Day, I figured it's time to ask ... where are the dads? I see a fair amount of dads with their families most places I go, but I have also noticed that although I also see lots of moms and grandmas with children at the zoo, at restaurants, at the mall, I almost never see dads alone with young children (and I exclude the dads who, tragically, look like they're being punished). I see dads with older kids, but what's the matter? Are we afraid to change the nappies or something?
I'd like to think that by 2007 these myths were just that: old stereotypes that die hard. Of course, I've done no real scientific studies here, I'm just relying on what I've noticed.
I can't help but wonder if the media plays a part in all this. Have you ever looked at parenting magazines in the bookstore or at the supermarket? If they don't come right out and put mom in the name of the magazine, it's usually in the little slogan that sits below the title on the front cover and the articles inside -- other than the boilerplate "dad's corner" or some such -- are all written for moms and/or by moms.
I don't feel like I'm anything special or out of the ordinary, but keeping my eyes out for another dad alone with a toddler today over the course of two hours at the zoo turned up not a single example. I know loads of dads that ache at leaving their kids to go off to work and can't wait to get home to see them at the end of the day. And they change as many diapers, cook as much mac 'n' jack, etc. as mom does. So what's going on?
Dads, if you're not already doing it, take a day off now and again and take your 2-year-old to the zoo and show her the cows and the penguins and the red pandas and take a ride on the train with her sitting at your side, your arm resting across her shoulder. She'll love you for it forever, you'll be glad you did it and you'll help bust the stereotypes at the same time.
And I urge all the dads (and moms!) out there to use the talkback feature below to tell me I'm wrong as can be. Nothing, frankly, would make me happier.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.