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DeWayne's World - Dad is OK

DeWayne Bartels

Chris Rock was pacing on  stage as I flipped through channels recently. I stopped.

The comedian was talking about mothers and fathers.

He observed, quite correctly, that lovely, emotional songs are written about mothers.

What song is written about dads: “Papa Was A Rolling Stone.”

He said the only appreciation dads get is the biggest piece of chicken at the dinner table.

I had to laugh.

My wife was watching with me. She laughed, too.

Less than an hour later, my daughter walked in our bedroom with our granddaughter.

Michelle, 3, walked over to grandma and asked, “Do you have a present for me?”

Our daughter walked over to my side of the bed. The first words out of her mouth were, ‘Dad, I need ...”

My wife and I looked at each other and just burst into laughter. I thought about a T-shirt my daughter gave me some years ago that I still have. It reads: “Who are all these kids and why are they calling me dad?”

It started me thinking about being a dad.

While researching dads, I came across the article, “Why Dads Matter” by Warren Farrell, a San Diego-based author.

In the article, he starts out saying, “On Mother’s Day the most phone calls are made. On Father’s Day, the most collect phone calls are made.”

I can relate.

Farrell continues, though in a much more serious vein, “We still think of dads as wallets — or as deadbeats if they fail to be wallets — but reality is changing faster than the image. In the last 20 years, the percentage of single dads has more than doubled, from 10 percent to 23 percent of all single-parent households,” he wrote.

“Almost one in four. Moms moving out of the home has been a headline-creating revolution; dads moving into the home has been the quietest revolution.”

Dads matter.

I lost mine while still a boy, but the lessons he left with me so many years ago are still very evident in my life.

He taught me to always try to do my best. He taught me, by example, my work ethic.

He taught me that you respect women, especially the one you marry.

Dad taught me there are certain things dads do with their kids — like making ramps for them to jump their bikes on — that mom is better off not knowing about.

He taught me that hugs, a ready ear, certain looks, few words, the mere threat of the belt, a sense of humor, a hand on the shoulder and time, lots of time, are the currency of a true father.

A real father doesn’t need much more than those tools, even in this technologically advanced age.

I marvel that my three kids — ranging from 23 to 27 —still ask for my advice. They still want to learn from me.

That’s an awesome responsibility for a dad, but also a welcome one, a wonderful one.     

Farrell observed that, “Just as the last third of the 20th century was about women becoming more equal partners in the workplace, so the first third of the 21st century will be about men becoming more equal partners in the family.”

Farrell sees that as a positive sign.

I see it as a sad observation.

Why do fathers have to make a comeback to become more equal partners?

If fathers had been doing their jobs there would be no need for a comeback.

I have never understood men selling short, or ignoring, their role in the family.

Being a father is the best role of my life.

My wife and I are raising our two oldest grandchildren. They are 11 and 10.

They have lived with us for eight years. They call us mom and dad.

The morning after watching Chris Rock on TV the youngest of the two got up and came into the office at home where I was on the Internet.

He repeated a ritual that has been going for years. He gave me a hug, and said, “Good morning, dad.”

Dad, not mom, gets the first hug of the day from that boy.

That’s one of my greatest little rewards for being a dad.

I have to say I really am happy to hear my kids say, “Dad, I need …” considering the alternative would be, “I need a dad.”