Jewish World Review June 13, 2003 / 13 Sivan, 5763

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
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Consumer Reports


A Father's Day roast for Mother Goose

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | If you are a father and it seems like more cards are bought, more cash spent, more flowers delivered and more phone calls placed on Mother's Day than Father's Day, you're absolutely right. Personally, I blame children's literature.

It's been an uneven playing field from the git go and I intend to do something about it. For starters, let me point out that kids cut their teeth on Mother Goose. I have it on good authority there was a Father Goose as well. Know why you don't hear about him? I'll tell you why. While she was entertaining the kids with clever stories and snappy rhymes, he was down at the county courthouse filing papers and ripping through red tape that would get their goose nests with their little goose eggs on the protected species list. Typical, isn't it? Dads do the all-important behind-the-scenes work, but no one seems to remember.

And what about Old Mother Hubbard? She wasn't the only one scrounging around for food. Old Father Hubbard went to the cupboard to get his poor dog a bone. When he got there, the cupboard was bare, so he phoned out for buffalo wings and pizza instead. OK, it might not rhyme, but believe you me, that's a ditty that will warm the hearts of a lot of children when they think of dear old dad.

Then there's the old woman who lived in the shoe. I'm not saying the woman didn't have a tough row to hoe. I can imagine being packed into a smelly old sweat-soaked shoe with a herd of kids was downright awful. But where was the old man? I'll tell you where. The old man took the old sock to live in so the woman could have the shoe and pull the laces taught to put a roof over the kids' head. Once again, the silent sacrifices of a caring father go virtually unnoticed.

And how about that little game Mother May I? Mom's not the only one with the power. The next time I spot some kids playing it, I'm telling them the rules have been changed. "The game is over, kids. It's no longer Mother May I, the game is now Go Ask Your Dad."

I dare say there has been a blatant bias in the visual arts as well. Take Whistler's Mother. It is a little known fact that Whistler also had painted a picture of his father. Unfortunately, it was right after the man had eaten a heavy meal. He had fallen asleep in the chair, was all slouched down with his mouth hanging open and drool running down his chin. The painting wasn't nearly as popular as that of Whistler's mother wearing her prim little bonnet and sitting there at full alert. If Whistler had gotten out the paint set an hour earlier, when his dad was wired for fun and giving horsey rides around the kitchen, it would have been a totally different story.

Mothers have more than their share of environmental tributes as well: Mother Nature, Mother Earth, even the Sierra Madres. First thing tomorrow I'm writing my senator and demanding we rename the Catskills the Sierra Padres.

I'm sorry about all these inequities you dads have suffered. We'll try to even things out in the year to come. For now, why don't you forget about all these slights and injustices and just kick back and relax.

But, hey, would you mind opening this jar of pickles, setting up the badminton set and checking the burgers on the grill first? Thanks. You're a saint, dad, a real saint.

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JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids. To comment, please click here. To visit her website click here.

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02/22/02: Wrestling with prejudice
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02/01/02: Age-old words
01/25/02: Abortion: Switching Sides
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05/25/01 Cyborgs for Better or Worse
05/18/01 The death of Common Sense

© 2001, Lori Borgman