A Hands on evolution
Get your hand off my ass
Heard someone talking about a dude the other day and she called him a, “Hands on Dad.” Now if I heard that 20 years ago I would have thought, Damn that’s cool, it’s really good to see a father get involved with their kids. But today an involved father seems to be the norm, not the exception. Today most fathers are hands on, changing diapers, feeding, taking turns getting up, and then as they grow older sharing the responsibility of taking them to school, the doc, parks, playgrounds, sports, or whatever it is the children choose to be involved in.
I was a child in the 60’s and we had hands on dads back then too. They put their hands on our asses when they spanked us, slapped their hands on our wrists to get our attention, and slapped our heads and told us to “Wake Up! They were away all day long and according to Mom spent most of that time thinking of new ways to dispense disciplinary actions. “Wait till your father get home.“
Something to fear! It never worked cause frankly we didn’t give a shit. The old man came home with a headache, had a drink, and by the time he got around to us all he could muster was slurring a lecture. He only became hands on when he was pissed, like if I accidentally moved the wood he was hammering when I attempted to help him. So unless dad was in one of those foul work sucked kind of moods it was relatively safe. Keep an eye out until Mom trudged into the kitchen. That meant she was preparing our dinner which was served everyday at the exact same time. That meant it was an hour until Dad gets home. Same routine, and if he pounded down his scotch in one gulp that’s when I headed for the hills. Otherwise, just wait for the talking too. It was like I was living in an episode of Leave it To Beaver and Ward was gonna sit me down.
Nighttime was a different story. I have 5 brothers and we lived in the upstairs portion of the house. 5 kids in two rooms. It was like they were raising a hockey team. Being the youngest boy I received most of the body checks and eye gouges. 5 minutes for fighting,? More like 5 minutes for NOT fighting. Needless to say we made a lot of noise which disturbed my mom and dad.
The primary method of corralling us was to send up Dad. He would sit us down like a coach. “Come on fella’s, your mom and I both have headaches. You guys are making too much noise and you need to calm down and stop making so much noise.” Another ten minute of heart to heart pep talk then down he went. Worked like a charm. For ten minutes. Then it was time to resume the games! Laughing and yelling even louder and waging major battles ending up in pile ups with your truly screaming from the bottom. It must have sounded like we were moving the furniture. Okay not the best analogy but it was LOUD! Anyway all fun and games until we heard that shrill sound that sent fear coursing through our collective souls and had us scattering for cover. MOM!
The words in that sound determined how bad the violation was, and what extent of Moms brand of reckoning we would receive. If it was our names it wouldn’t be too bad, middle names trouble, but the absolute worst was “GOD DAMN IT!” Holy fuck she cursed! The angry, wait, no fuming, no, wait, lividly furious voice followed by extremely loud and deliberate foot pounding up the stairs. The closer the sound the deeper the fear. “Didn’t Dad tell you boys to knock it off?” We scrambled like hell to find a hiding spot because Mom was about to unleash a fury of hurt on whoever got nabbed first. Not only a hands on Dad, we had a Hands on Mom!
Hands is an interpretive word here. It wasn’t always her hand that caused us to shit pieces of dried mortar it was what was IN her hands. A wooden spoon, a belt, a shoe, a ruler, whatever was nearest to her that could be used as a weapon and inflict the maximus pain to the gluteus. Mom had an arsenal of weapons of ass destruction with frightening accuracy and was not afraid to use them. Being the smallest I was either caught first or thrown to the wolf more often than not. Mom would wail all her anger leaving welts on my ass. Today, child services would be buried under a month of paperwork after just one visit with my Mom. Today the neighbors would report blood curdling screams to 911. But I tell you what, I grew up having mad respect for her, for women, and for people in general. I don’t advocate violence, but it worked on me. I’m a better person because of Mom, welts and all.
People like to say it was a different time and of course it was. Innocence sure! But easier, no fucking way. Easier than parenting during the depression? Yes. Easier than parenting during the pioneering era? Sure. But easier than today? NO! Raising kids today is a seriously complex operation. Tons of literature assuring them how much harm they inflict on their kids ids and egos. Foods that will destroy their health, actions that will deplete their self esteem, all kinds of advice based on creating paranoia of failing as a parent. Parents can’t just raise kids today they need to have every technologic advantage and informed study before they even leave the hospital. Even the god damn strollers are high tech! Its gotta be really hard to raise kids today with everyone judging every action you take as a parent, so no not easy, only different.
My parents were pioneers of suburbia, and middle class America. We had one TV and we all watched whatever Mom decided on. Mom never worked. Well not unless you mean hard work. She cleaned, ironed, cooked, dressed us kids, and kept everything together with the minimum accessories. When we got an electric dishwasher the neighbors came over to see it like it was a new car or something. Another thing there was only one of. Not complaining or comparing, that’s just how shit was then. A dishwasher was a modern appliance. It was a birthday present for mom. What would happen if my son gave his wife an appliance for her birthday? Hope he never finds out, but my mom was happy about it.
When my brothers and I grew up we attempted to make good on our promises to never treat our kids the way we were treated. That meant reason over violence, sparing the rod TO save the child. Giving the kids everything we could. On the outside it was brilliant. But somewhere along the line something went wrong. We got too soft on the kids. When I played sports as a kid you picked teams and the shitty players always got picked last but that was okay. They understood that they sucked but we let them play because they were our friends. And if you lost you sucked it up and congratulated the asshole winners. We called them all kinds of shit in a whisper, but we lost and that was that. If we won we didn’t rub in their faces and get all chest puffed about it, we shook hands and called them losers in private. Respect! Once we got older it meant the losers had to pay for the beers. We snickered in silence, not up in their faces.
I was watching a group of kids playing Tee ball. WTF? Swing and miss bitches that how life works. If you can’t hit the ball become a musician, or an artist, or a fucking brainiac. No shame, sports isn’t everything. At least it wasn’t, it used to be about fun. Watching the fat kid strike out every time amused us. But then I hear one of the guys, a coach of some sort yelling, “Lets go kids, remember, everyone wins.” WTF I mean WTF-ing F!!! Everyone wins? Oh no please, don’t tell them that! Someone loses. There is always a loser, that’s the whole point of sports, one wins the other loses. I watched the superbowl. The whats their names won and the other guys lost, Okay, I didn’t watch the last superbowl but I’ve seen them before and let me tell you, one team lost. You could tell which just by looking at their faces.
It’ called disappointment and trust me, it’s a fact of life. My Mom prepared me for disappointment. I prepared my kids for disappointment. I didn’t set them up to fail, but to succeed. Because sometimes we fail, and when you fail you suck it up, learn from it, get over it, and move the fuck on. Being hands on is not the same thing as being a friend, that comes later. When my son was little I was his parent, now I’m his friend. Now he’s parent and when his kids grow up he will be their friends as well. He’s a pretty good parent too, and he makes mistake just like I id, just like my Dad did, and all the way back. My son has two little girls and teaches them golf, (I know, right??) takes them al over. He changed their diapers, helped feed them, and now he spends most of his free time with them. And even though he lets them fail sometimes people still describe him as a Hands on Dad!…………….PEACE