Celebrity dads re­veal fun of fa­ther­hood

The Advertiser - SA Weekend - - UP -

For years dads have been the butt of jokes for be­ing com­pletely in­ca­pable of look­ing af­ter their own kids.

They’re so to­tally hope­less their main role babysit­ter rather than par­ent.

They put nap­pies on up­side down, think French fries are a veg­etable, and can never re­mem­ber what pick-up time is for kinder­garten.

Watch him leave the house with­out the nappy bag! Marvel as he for­gets to pack the school lunches — again! See him strug­gle to put the pram up!

Sadly, this kind of in­ep­ti­tude is not only ex­pected, but en­cour­aged and even cel­e­brated by women. But I think it’s time to take dads from zero to hero. A charm­ing new clip re­leased this week to pub­li­cise the Bonds Baby Search does ex­actly this.

In the vein of House Hus­bands, it shows a trio of celebrity dads spend­ing the day with their bubs.

The dads, ra­dio pre­sen­ter Ryan “Fitzy” Fitzger­ald, co­me­dian Dave Hughes and ten­nis champ Pat Rafter, pic­tured above, of­fer a re­fresh­ing take on fa­ther­hood.

For once dads are seen as com­pe­tent and ca­pa­ble rather than hope­less and hap­less.

The clip opens with Rafter rather op­ti­misti­cally invit­ing his mates and their ba­bies over to watch the cricket. Af­ter a play out­side, it’s lunchtime and they move the ta­ble to make way for a trio of high chairs sit­ting on a tar­pau­lin on the floor. Bril­liant idea.

Af­ter­wards they pin the tarp to the clothes­line and hose it down, along with the kids’ cloth­ing. “Who says men can’t multitask?” Hugh­esy says, as Fitzy aims the hose at Pat.

A nappy-chang­ing com­pe­ti­tion fol­lows. Per­haps for the first time ever, a man is shown chang­ing a nappy with­out snide jokes be­ing made.

The day is nearly done by the time the cricket’s turned on, and they sit there, rock­ing the prams qui­etly. Then a wicket is lost, and they wake up the ba­bies with their yells. Even this isn’t a catas­tro­phe and they agree to “walk it off” in a nearby park.

At the end of the day the guys joke about one baby be­ing “hosed down like a 4WD” and an­other be­ing given a “blow dry with a vac­uum cleaner”.

Fi­nally we have a funny — but re­al­is­tic — vi­sion of fa­ther­hood that doesn’t show them as fools or dead­beats. It’s im­por­tant, be­cause for too long the cul­tural por­trayal of dads hasn’t matched the re­al­ity.

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Al­though just 3 per cent of dads are pri­mary care­givers, mil­lions of dads are highly ca­pa­ble, in­volved fa­thers. They might be sep­a­rated or di­vorced, or just nat­u­rally hands-on, but most dads th­ese days are play­ing an equal role in rais­ing their kids.

It’s time we started to ac­knowl­edge that dads, too, spend Satur­day af­ter­noons mulling over the sugar con­tent of muesli in the su­per­mar­ket aisle. They take time to plan nu­tri­tious meals for their kids. They do read­ers, ar­range play dates, get kids ready for school, and even do the wash­ing up.

Thank­fully, there are other dads who are happy to share their tales of father­ing and have a laugh at the same time.

For in­stance, there is Mel­bourne stay-at-home dad Clint Greagen, who calls him­self the “bo­gan An­thony Rob­bins” and “a guy with a strong aver­sion to ac­tual paid work”. As Greagen sees it, he’s sur­rounded by peo­ple who think he’s just a “funny man who hangs out wash­ing like a lady”.

His book Reser­voir Dad is filled with sto­ries about toi­let pa­per snakes, snot mop­ping, chas­ing a chicken called Tan­doori, and wip­ing up urine in pub­lic places with the Footy Record.

“I still have mates who say they’d like to stay home and hang out with the kids at the park all day,” Mr Greagen said. “I like to show that’s not what it’s about.”

In the US, co­me­dian Chris Il­lu­mi­nati is of­fer­ing a sim­i­larly hu­mor­ous view of daddy day care. He started by writ­ing notes to re­mind him­self what to do when car­ing for his chil­dren Evan, 4, and Lyla, nine months, and is now an in­ter­net sen­sa­tion. “Woke up at 3am to find kid cry­ing and cov­ered in vomit. Had to clean him and clothes and bed. And they said I wouldn’t learn any­thing from be­ing in a fra­ter­nity,” one note says.

And an­other: “Bought the kid a train­ing potty. He sat down on it and pre­tended to talk on the phone. No com­ment on where he learned that from.”

It’s a re­minder that fa­thers are play­ing a key role in their kids’ lives, and it’s about time they were recog­nised for it.

Time to let go, mums, and give dads some credit for a change. Blog with Susie at susieobrien.com.au, fol­low her on Twit­ter @susieob and Face­book.com/ newswithsuse

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