It has now been six months since I took over childcare responsibilities from my wife and at the risk of sounding smug, I think I’m getting pretty good at it. In fact, I can’t understand what all the fuss was about. So much so that my wife tells me that I am starting to behave in a particularly egotistical and narcissistic fashion. However, I have been doing my research and have found that scattered all through children’s film and literature there is plenty of evidence to be found that Dads are best and have been doing a great job for years. Allow me to illuminate you…
Let’s start with the world of film. One of the children’s classics is Bambi. About halfway through the film Bambi’s mother disappears and his father, “The Prince of the Forest”, has to take over childcare responsibilities. Bambi turns out just fine under the tutelage of his noble father. Another example from the film world is Finding Nemo. Brave, heroic father goes in search of poor disabled son (this one gets me every time) and rescues him in dramatic fashion. Again, a happy ending and Dad’s doing a great job. Finally, there is, of course, Kramer vs Kramer. Dustin Hoffman battles heroically against his employers, the medical system and the law courts to raise his fine doe-eyed son after his fickle mother departs on a selfish quest to “find herself.” You see, it’s all about the Dads.
Next, let’s move to the world of children’s literature. Many of you will be familiar with the works of Julia Donaldson. In particular I am thinking of a two of her books. In The Monkey Puzzle a poor lost and frightened baby monkey is led through the jungle in a desperate search for his missing mother. Eventually, with the help of a butterfly he manages to track down his father who then takes him home to Mum. What on earth Mum has been doing we are not told but I think it is telling that in his hour of need, it’s Dad that finds the poor lost baby monkey. In The Gruffalo’s Child the toddler Gruffalo is being cared for by his Dad – no sign of Mum.
Finally, there is the classic The Tiger Who Came to Tea. The writer Judith Care was clearly sending us a message about the sub-standard quality of care being provided by an alcoholic mother. Just put yourself in the shoes of the father who returns home to find no food or drink in the house, his beer bottles strewn across the kitchen floor and his daughter not fed or bathed and still in her nightclothes. The mother then concocts a cock and bull story about a giant tiger who called around. The poor man has to save the day by taking his family out for their dinner.
And there, I rest my case. Numerous examples throughout popular culture of Dad’s doing it best in the most adverse and challenging of circumstances whilst the women-folk show a callous disregard for the well-being of their family by going off to find themselves, being drunk or being killed by hunters.
However, my wife has pointed out a flaw or two in my carefully constructed thesis. In Kramer vs Kramer the court awards custody of Billy to Meryl Streep, not Dustin Hoffman. In The Gruffalo’s Child, the Dad allows a toddler to go wandering around in a snowstorm whilst he sleeps off a hangover. In Finding Nemo, the disabled baby fish is lost whilst being cared for by his dozy Dad. In The Monkey Puzzle, the person the baby monkey really wants is his mother, not father.
I have dismissed these arguments as mere details, mere technicalities in an overall picture that clearly illustrates how wonderful Dads are. However, to be honest, I think she might be right and perhaps I should put a sock in it.