Men Don’t Win
Part 1: I’m a Father not a Babysitter
By: Michael Bouciquot, MS
Little coughs came out of my son’s mouth as his head rested on my shoulder and his arms wrapped loosely around my neck. He and I sat in the waiting room of the doctor’s office hoping to hear his name called soon. His lethargic body didn’t want to move at all, as I was trying to get comfortable sitting in the same spot. Then walks in a woman with her daughter who sits down across from us. She says hello as she takes her seat, I respond “Good morning.” Maybe about five minutes pass and she says, “You two are so cute, Daddy babysitting, taking his sick son to the doctor’s office. Mommy must be sick too.” I responded, “No, she’s at work, it was easier to change my schedule.” Even though her intentions might have meant well, her comment was very much backhanded. I could have given a backhanded response but didn’t have the correct arsenal in my repertoire. I could have responded like a jerk, but didn’twant to be viewed as the aggressive black man. I could have given a million rude responses but my Father didn’t raise me that way. The nurse comes out and calls my son’s name and we proceed with the doctor’s visit.
Fast forward a couple weeks later, I am out grocery shopping, both of my sons are sitting in the shopping cart. As I am putting my items onto the counter to be rang up. My younger son who is sitting up in the cart catches the eye of the woman behind us. So, she begins to play with him and after sometime she makes a comment. “Your boys are so adorable, You win father of the year for babysitting” In my head, I’m thinking EXCUSE ME? WTF? WHO BABYSITS THEIR OWN CHILDREN? My niece gets paid pretty well when she babysits. I’m not earning any extra money doing this. So, I politely respond “Nah, these are my kids, just being a dad ya know.” I proceeded to pay and went on with my day.
Both instances had me thinking, why did she say that? Are there actually women out there who hire babysitters to take their children to the doctor in place of the fathers? Sure, if you say a nanny, I understand but the nanny is employed to take care of the child in lieu of either parent. What about families who cannot afford a nanny? Who is responsible then? If mom isn’t there to feed the boys, who is going to do it? At the time, my sons were 3 and 4. It’s not like they can just get up, hop in the car and go fend for themselves.
I notice, in society we have a stigma about men being fathers to their kids, especially black men. Men who are absent in their child’s life get much more attention than men who are present. Why is that? Why does society focus on dead beat fathers who aren’t doing what they need to do and ignore the great Dad’s in this world. Trust me, I believe that men need to take care of their children and if they refuse, the courts should get involved. It’s a shame single mother households are on the rise. According, to the Census Bureau’s American Families and Living Arrangements, “The second most family arrangement is children living with a single mother, at 23 percent.” However, I also do know these statistics do not mean there isn’t a father in the picture who is handling his business. I do not want to be misunderstood, I CANNOT respect a man who does not take care of his children in all facets of life, socially, emotionally, physically, and financially.
My issue is the labeling of father’s as babysitters when they are taking care of their children. Sorry, they aren’t babysitters they are DAD’s. My issue is the look I get from people when I tell them my Dad had his grandkids this weekend as if 1) Wow, your dad is in your life? As if because I’m black he shouldn’t be and 2) He actually wants to spend time with his grandkids? Hey, it might be all in my head and it’s my fault my defenses rise. Or we might actually just stop for a second and think about society and the narrative of not only black men as fathers but ALL men and how we sell great fathers short.
It isn’t about constantly providing verbal praise or petting a father’s ego because he is essentially doing what he needs to do, his 24 hour 7 day a week job. It’s about not disrespecting them because they are there. We would never think to call a mother a babysitter, use the term mommy daycare, or call her the nanny of her own children. So why use the backhanded compliments to describe Dads?
This is Part 1 of a 3 part series of “Men Don’t Win” Part 2 will explore Men and divorce while Part 3 will examine Men and emotions. You can follow me on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/MichaelBouciquotmft/ and Instagram @feelpositivelygood. Leave a comment and share your thoughts on the topic.