Being a dad used to be simple. You had one job to do early on and that involved something similar to that pirate movie line, 'Release the Kraken'. If you know what I mean. Nine months later you were a dad. In the meantime you were running about conquering the world, pillaging the villages and looting gold because that is how you get gold. If you were not a pillager, you most likely ended up getting horribly skewered to death. Like I said, daddy times were simple hundreds of years ago before social media was invented. Genghis Khan was a dad to hundreds and he never bothered if his children were better off with moose hair diapers or snakeskin nappies.
Now, we are a sensitive, involved bunch. Dads now are like moms, only more clueless. In fact, most of us dads pretend to know everything. It is a guy thing after all that translates very well to surviving that scary period of being a dad. I thought I would know everything when I was an irritating, cocky teenager and I thought my dad could have done a few things differently. Like not get upset when I broke the headlight of his car by taking it out of the garage without his permission.
Then fast forwarding years later, I became a dad. And I realise, I know absolutely nothing. But I cannot let the world know. The world mostly being the wife. Like most marketing professionals in this country, I had to pretend I knew what I was doing. So every morning I put on my Dad suit which is basically all my clothes with baby vomit stains. And I would talk the talk and about how to burp a newborn the right way. Apparently, it is not by screaming like a football fan at the baby to burp. “No, DAMMIT. That is not the way. Let out the gas. No, not the food. DAMMIT NOT THE FOOD. I will send you back where you came from. Hold it in, HOLD IT IN. Nooooooo!”
I am constantly thinking everything I do is wrong. Or it is not enough. I have a seven-year-old son and a two-month-old daughter. Am I saving up enough for them? Is the two-hour-per-day iPad limit for my son enough or is it too much? Is it too soon to look for a full contact Krav Maga self-defense course for my daughter so she can bust some proverbial and literal balls? Should I buy the car I want or save up for college or replace the AC? I wish I was a pillaging plundering warlord of ancient times who only lived till 35 at best and did not have time to worry. Being a dad is hard work.
Genghis Khan understood that so he had his coping mechanism. He killed people. I cannot do that, at least not outside my head. Modern dads resort to either diving into work or jokes. Humor is the salvation for all things chaotic. We dads utilise the stupidest, puniest most head shaking jokes in the history of mankind: Dad Jokes.
Friend asks me, “Did you get a haircut?”
“Nope, I got all of them cut.”
We use it to survive and given time, we hone it to perfection and use it like a weapon. Much like the way Batman uses a Batarang. You throw and disarm. My son came up to me a few days ago asking me why I don't take him out, while I was finishing off some work. So I took him to the front door and left him outside on the porch near the plants. I thought it was hilarious but the wife disagreed. Which is okay because that is what wives do after they pass the girlfriend stage. Even at moments like these I wonder if I am doing it right. Not just the saving-up-money-for-college but also am I doing the jokes right? Then I recall my dad is always uttering these corny jokes and I turned out alright. In fact, I turned out better than alright. Although my father may still not be sure living 11,000 kilometres away.
Father's Day is about those poor souls who go about screaming in their heads “Amagawd! What have I done?” We give them a bit of recognition so they do not feel so helpless. My son created and sent me a message about being Galaxy's Best Dad. It means I am doing something right. More importantly it means he has forgotten about me leaving him standing outside the house.
Ehsanur Raza Ronny is a confused dad, all-round car guy, model car builder, and cartoonist. He is also Editor of Shift (automobiles), Bytes (technology), and Next Step (career) of The Daily Star.