I’ve been to quite a few events at the Skirball’s Family Amphitheater Performances (kicking off June 21); it’s a great place to introduce your kids (and yourself) to everything from live marimba music to live porcupines. Most of the time when I’m there, my attention is devoted to my daughter—watching her delight in the day’s programming, chasing her up and down the amphitheater stairs (i.e., cardio for parents), trying to dredge up a box of raisins from the very bottom of the toddler utility tote (because of course that is the place where the thing you want will be), etc. Still, the casual observations I’ve made of my fellow parents in attendance have led me to the very scientific hypothesis that, tucked away in the catch-all descriptor of “dad,” there are various distinct subcategories of dads—a broad array of phyla in the kingdom of dads, if you will. I’m pretty sure I could fill a Birds of America-sized book with all of these dad types, but I won’t pretend that wouldn’t be kind of tedious for everybody concerned. Still, I feel that it’s my duty as a fellow dad and an armchair anthropologist to present a small sampling of dads in honor of Flag Day. I mean, Father’s Day.
Bjorn Again Dad, you’re living the dream, and feeling the burn (in your shoulders
and back, from all the weight strapped to your torso), and waving your dad flag
high. Now, some people might look at you and think, “He can’t be enjoying that.
Can he?” He can, unencumbered bystander, he can.
Whoa there, Audience Participation Dad—the vigor with which you strut your stuff is, um, admirable, but maybe keep your weirdest dance moves under wraps.
And if you can’t put a lid on it for your own sake, then please think of the children.
Specifically, your own children. Watching you do the Funky Warthog, or the
“Duke of Weselton,” or whatever you call that number, with no regard for how it
reflects on them.
“Aww,” the woman sitting next to you says, “That. Is. ADORABLE! It’s so sweet
of you to humor your little guy by wearing the same shirt as him.”
“Yes. I’m humoring, uh, him,” you say in your best Serious Adult voice.
It’s OK, Dad-Who-Dresses-Just-Like-His-Son. Your secret is safe with us. But don’t let this matching thing devolve into something truly weird, like family portraits
where you’re all wearing the same sweater.
The big shades, a big cup of coffee, and big ol’ tattoos are all hallmarks of the
Rock‘n‘Roll Dad, who straddles the line between hard as nails and puppy dog
tails with slouchy, disheveled aplomb. Good for you, you tired son of a gun, for
rallying the morning after whatever it was that you were up to and bringing your
littlest bandmate out for some age-appropriate fun.
Grandpa, you look around at all these other dads here, and you maybe see a bit
of your younger self in each of them. And maybe that big smile is your way of
telling these younger dads, who are still knee deep in strollers and sippy cups
and crustless sandwiches, two things:
1) You’re doing just fine, kid.
2) It’s all good, it really is.
Or, maybe that smile indicates that you just let your granddaughter eat three
giant chocolate chip cookies, and you’re bringing her back to her parents right
when all that sugar kicks in. Either way, Happy Father’s Day!
Erik Shveima is a Los Angeles–based artist with a fondness for illustrated blogs, so much so that he is responsible for two: Or Best Offer and Mixed Media Daily.