The Dad Stays In The Picture
Last night my wife showed me a picture of Kayne West and his daughter from Kim Kardashian’s Instagram page, where Kayne just looks like a dad having a good time, playing Sea Horse Express (that’s my own invented game, anyone can borrow it) with his child on his back.
“That’s such a great picture of a normal dad,” we both said, eerily, knowing full well the enormous media-industrial complex institution behind the picture (celebrity to the power of wealth multiplied by fame-seeking).
“And he’s smiling. He doesn’t look like a huge asshole,” added the wife. It struck me: this is exactly what my life has looked like since becoming a father – and the exact moment that true joy becomes a life-long thing no one can deny. See that joy? That’s Dad Joy.
This Dad Joy got me thinking of several recent articles regarding pictures of Dads and Moms. Recently Doyin Richards (Daddy Doin’ Work blog) made a dent in online bloggership fame (and daytime talk tv) by reacting to the reactions of this photo his wife took and he posted:
When he originally posted this picture on his online media sites, he got a large sharing bump (~23,000 plus Faces pages shared this picture and the picture received over 452K Likes) and a bit of a sexist and racist backlash. Racist trolls of every avatar persuasion posted comments you can just imagine (commenting on race mostly), and thus a little bit of fame found this DDW (ABC News, Katie).
The picture tells a tale of the mundane morning routine for most Dads, and a tale of outrageous abnormalcy for others. Add in the fact that this is a black man doing these tasks, and for some reason people reacted in the most race and gender-based ways. Perhaps if you put anything out there you might eventually get a snowball effect from a part of the population just waiting to say something snarky. Or there might be a bigger story there we still don’t know about. If there is a “bigger conversation” about dads and parenting, I’d love to be in on it.
My own morning routine as a dad is a lot like the above, especially on weekends and/or when the wife is working and I’m trying to dress two kids and feed two kids and brush two kids’ teeth and get out of the door and keep them alive and make sure the kids don’t look like oh, isn’t that cute? Dad’s taking care of them and they look like wayward gypsy people with bed hair.
Today we see in-the-moment pictures all the time online, and usually it’s women posting, that is, Moms posting in the 30s-something Dad world that I inhabit (I know, I know, a lot of you have no idea what this world is like, and that’s okay, and you will someday soon enough). I became a Dad the same time the internet became a non-stop place for everyone all the time everyowhere, it seems. In my 20s the internet was for Myspace, email, and a bit of googling, and that’s about it; I became an internet savvy person too late to be hip or young-ish.
Let’s face it: regarding posting pictures, the internet belongs to women and the rest of us have to claim what corners we can. The Mom in “The Mom Stays In the Picture” has nothing on my Mom friends: my Facebook and Instagram feeds load a million new Mom-n-baby or baby selfies every six seconds, and I say this is a good thing, because eventually Dad will come home and, like my wonderful shared internet feed, I get to be in a few pictures and enjoy the rest. I love looking at my wife and kids, and one day I’ll be old and out of step with online picture taking and wish for the days of Posts and Likes. I’ll be in my sixties looking at my Holo-Wall of all the “media in the Cloud” and remembering when we were young and excited about direct mailing each other on Instagram.
We used to take pictures every now and then, mainly parties and holidays. There was even a time when we videotaped everything because you never know – we might be famous one day, or use this in a movie. Now we take pictures every few hours, and soon we’ll abandon the art altogether as a new medium takes over.
Regardless of the moment in a visual, I’ll stay the Dad who is still learning to braid his daughter’s hair (I was very successful the other night!) and navigate the finer points of Lego-building with my son. And guaranteed the wife will snap a pic, and I’ll snap one too, and maybe we’ll share it, and maybe you’ll Like it, and maybe we’ll all start a conversation of our own.