“What’s your name?” the impossibly cute, young woman said to my son as I placed him on his chosen carousel horse at the children’s museum.
“Jack,” he responded as I clipped the safety belt around him.
“Jack. I like that name,” she replied, “And what’s Daddy’s name, Jack?”
“Dada,” Jack said as we both smiled at each other and our inquisitor.
The carousel woman slipped us both a sly smile and continued with her questions.
“What’s your favorite part of the carousel, Jack?” she asked.
“I like going round and round,” he answered immediately.
“Cool,” she said, “I like going up and down.” She made sure to make eye contact with me as she said it. I tried not to laugh. She held the eye contact as she directed her next question towards not Jack, but me.
“What about you, Dada? Do you like to go up and down too?”
I almost lost it. That mischievous smile came back for a split second before she finally broke eye contact and jumped down to the control panel for the carousel. I don’t even remember exactly how I responded, but I imagine it was super cool, sexy, and smooth. If there’s anything that thirty-six year old, bearded, stay at home dads are, it’s super cool, sexy, and smooth. Trust me. My chocolate almond milk boxes bring all the girls to the yard.
It doesn’t hurt that I spend most of my life tethered to probably the cutest, tow-headed creature that has ever existed. “But all children are cute, right?” “Everyone thinks their child is beautiful, right?” Wrong. It’s no different than the “everyone gets a trophy for showing up” mentality. It’s a nice thought, but it’s not reality. Believe me, if my kid was ugly, I would admit it. I see a lot of kids in my line of work, and there are lots of them with plenty ugly faces and often, uglier personalities. It’s evolution, baby.
My friend Casey and I coined a term for him a couple of years ago, “kidnap cute.” As a general rule, I think most kids would probably not even tempt your most dedicated kidnappers. But Jack is the kind of cute that would make even the utmost straight laced citizens consider kidnapping as a lifestyle option. The hardest part of my first few years raising Jack was often trying to convince the other parents at the park that the weird dude in the hooded sweatshirt with the big dark beard wasn’t trying to kidnap the beautiful, blonde boy that didn’t want to leave the park to take his nap. The second hardest part was keeping an eye out for the other park mom’s. The last thing I wanted was for one of them to steal my son and leave me with one of their ugly ones.
On countless occasions I’ve overheard otherwise child-resistant young women say that if they could be guaranteed a kid like Jack, they’d have one immediately. “Look at his eyes!” “Look at his hair!” “Look at that smile!” My son is like Ryan Gosling mixed with Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High in a pint sized package. Or better yet, a fucking toddler version of Matthew McConaughy. It must seriously suck to have attractive women calling you beautiful and gorgeous all the time. I’m still waiting on that phase of my life. If he somehow gets to skip his awkward middle school phase, I will definitely start hating him.
Until then, I’m going to keep enjoying him as my wing-man. He has no qualms about chatting up all the girls he can find, no matter their age. And when he leaves a mom or two for me, they incessantly gush over his very existence to me as they look me up and down for a split second and wonder, I imagine, if I’ve got another one of these Mini-McConaughys left in me.
Without him I wouldn’t have spent months as the only adult male hanging out with a group of young, highly attractive, Mormon moms. It was weird and highly titillating, like being the bearded house mother of the most sober sorority on campus. All pillow fights and magic underwear. I was Charlie, and they were my oft-pregnant stay at home angels.
You should see the attention we get from all of the servers at all of the restaurants in town. I’m holding court at the bars of Omaha as if I were Warren Buffet out for drinks with the hot blonde dude from Sons of Anarchy. We’re getting free refills! On beer! At breakfast! And we’re collecting sly smiles and free extra minutes on the carousel at the children’s museum every time the woman with the fondness for the up and down is at the controls. We’re like Maverick and Iceman in Top Gun. Except, he’s more like both of them rolled into one and I’m a short, bearded Goose just sitting around by myself singing “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” and waiting for the scene where I die.
But hey, I’ll take it. I fucking love my Mini-Matthew McConaughy. I’d hang out with him any day, even if I were just the guy that carried around his bongos or rolled his joints. So I’m cool with the truth. I’m cool being HIS wing-man, anytime. I know my place, and I’m better for it. We make an attractive pair. Cute kids and good fathers are a killer combination. He’s there. I’m trying.
Maturity, responsibility, confidence, competence, playfulness, sensitivity, and commitment are all attractive qualities. If I exude any of these, I owe it to my little partner in crime and how he has changed me in the last four plus years. He’s sparked my continuing evolution into the confident, responsible, grown-ass man that all fathers should strive to be. It’s a well-deserved cosmic joke on men that they become the most attractive to women only after they’ve become competent fathers.
Without him and what he has made me, I wouldn’t be nearly as cool, sexy, or smooth. And I definitely wouldn’t be at the Children’s Museum getting double entendres tossed at me by flirty, doe-eyed twenty-somethings. Though, I’d like to think that’s mostly just because I wouldn’t be at the Children’s Museum in the first place.
“We make a good team, Dada,” Jack said as he looked up at me from the toilet as I wiped his ass for the ten-thousandth time. And just like that, another one of the many weirdly precious and hilarious moments of fatherhood came out of nowhere. I was stuck halfway between tears and laughter, about to have this particular trip to the bathroom cemented into my memories forever.
“We sure do, little dude,” I replied as I lifted him off the toilet seat and flushed. If only the carousel girl could see us now, I thought, knowing full well that there was probably only one woman who could ever find anything attractive about this particular scene.
The Omaha Children’s Museum
My son, Jack. Age 4-1/2 I’ll be his wing-man anytime.
And of course, this: http://youtu.be/2fWr6CBARMw