According to our six-year-old, the biggest difference between mom and dad is, “Dad is more funnier.”
Dad is the parent who composes raps about doing dishes, teaches the “I've Got Too Much Homework” blues, and cheerfully chats it up before school in the morning while all around him, mayhem erupts.
Some would call this oblivious. In fact, I would call this oblivious. But others — our children, for example — would call this “more funnier.”
I used to rant about the injustice of his place as the “more funnier” parent. Why did he get to be “more funnier?” Or why couldn't we take turns being “more funnier?” It seemed unfair that his role in our children's lives will forever conjure memories of midnight basketball and Monty Python, while thoughts of me will recall complex schedules executed with military precision — not to mention an unkind depiction of my need to put clean laundry in its place.
But to be fair, I never invested myself in a “more funnier” capacity. As soon as the kids were old enough, he launched Saturday morning games, an activity in which I have never participated.
Clad in pajamas and surrounded by anyone small enough to play, he prompts shrieking through the house in an elaborate hide-and-seek ritual known as “Heffalumps and Woozles.” The theme requires players to claim a “Winnie the Pooh” character as his or her identity, and then hide somewhere in the “Hundred Acre Wood” (our house). My husband, singing the “Heffalumps” theme song (there is one) conducts an exaggerated search to “find” Pooh or Piglet, some of whom play this game in plain view. He pretends not to notice.
Who wouldn't find him “more funnier” than the parent who breaks up the game and sends the players upstairs to get dressed and brush their teeth, there being a soccer game in 40 minutes?
The “more funnier” dad in our house also fosters an appreciation of The Godfather, a movie classic none of our kids has seen but all can recite. Trouble with a friend at school? “Ya gotta ask yourself, 'what would Don Corleone do?'” he counsels. Thanks to their dad, our children often shrug their shoulders and with diction that sounds as if their mouths are full of marbles ask, “wadayagonnado?”
Sometimes he's “more funnier” without meaning to be. Like the family dinner when someone innocently asked “what's a mortgage?” What followed was an eye-glazing description of the Federal Reserve, mortgage interest rates, credit ratings, locking in at the bottom and what happens when the bank sells your loan to a mortgage company and how the service from these places usually stinks. This went on for quite a while — the kids actually ate vegetables just to pass the time — and then someone said, “So a mortgage is a piece of paper?”
Playing the “more funnier” part in our parenting act is just one role my husband performs with great conviction. In his view, the job of fatherhood is no laughing matter; it's one that requires serious and constant effort. His gentle humor is just one way he builds loving relationships that connect him to every facet of our children's' lives, allowing him to listen and lead through conflicts and struggles, opportunities and decisions. His unwavering commitment, support and example serve as their model of what it means to be a man.
Our inherent differences as mom and dad ensure balanced parenting. Neither my role nor his is more or less important, but simply the completion of a circle that encompasses form and function, content and character.
And besides, if I ever tried to be the “more funnier” one, I know what the kids would say: “Mom…Fugeddaboudit.”
(Marybeth Hicks is a writer and author of the features “then again.” and “A View from the Pew.” A wife of 17 years and mother of four children from first grade to freshman year, she uses her columns to share her perspective on issues and experiences that shape families and the communities we share. Marybeth began her writing career more than 20 years ago in the Reagan White House. She also has worked in marketing and public relations positions in corporate and agency settings. Mostly, she spends a lot of time in her mini-van, where the real work of parenting actually happens. Learn more about Marybeth and her column at www.marybethhicks.com.)