It was the great cookout.  Neighbor’s gathered to celebrate their block’s new dad and the old-timers in attendance thought they knew it all.

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ALL FOR THE NEW DAD?

The barbecue that was cooked on the fancy new grill Mr. Montgomery, the host, received from his bunch of kids was lip-smacking delicious.

Mr. New Dad was still in a daze (from missing much sleep the night before) when he arrived with his girlfriend, the baby’s momma, holding their infant in her arms.

“Whoa,” said the elder dad at the gathering. “It’s Father’s Day and you, Mr. New Dad, belong holding that baby.”

“Hold on,” said Montgomery, with a bowl of barbecue sauce in hand and wearing a grimy white apron. “Don’t start this day with a lecture.”

Montgomery went on to add there was no formula for who holds the baby and that there’s no day designated for dads or moms to take their turn.

And so went the conversations at the gathering. The old-timers had words of advice and the older-timers determined that their age gave them enough swag to pronounce what was right and what was wrong, and Mr. New Dad had best take heed.

Both the recipe for the lip-smacking barbecue sauce and the top sports stories of the day gave way to schooling the unsuspecting Mr. New Dad.

THE WOMEN GUESTS CHOSE TO PUNISH THE DAD’S MATE

Ms. Girlfriend also suffered during the alleged celebration. Afterward she said that her first thought was that the food made her stomach upset, but then she soon realized it was the grueling conversation the women neighbors had engaged in.

“Back in the day” seemed to have been the theme at the tables where women were gathered.

Women, decent women, it was said, didn’t show off a baby who was born out of wedlock. Someone remembered the high school senior who mysteriously disappeared from the neighborhood and was said by her family members to have gone East to stay with her aunt.

imagesPeople knew what the real story was, but it was a hush-hush conversation. What happened to the baby? Nobody really cared since the girl’s family name was still allowed to be honorable.

Men, decent men, it was said, married a girl they impregnated. Hoops and hollers were enjoyed by the women as they remarked how most marriages produced premature babies allegedly born in seven months rather than the full-term nine months.

Ms. Montgomery offered up the explanation that when the first menstrual period was missed the alarm went out, and by the second month of no period, wedding bells were ringing.

Ms. Girlfriend said she was so outnumbered that she didn’t bother to ask any of the wretched guests how many of them fit this scenario.

There were many kids, grandkids and great-grandkids at the neighborhood Father’s Day celebration, and fortunately they seemed untouched by the flow of conversation being offered up by the “old geezers.”

Ms. Girlfriend admitted she would have liked to have joined the younger set’s activities.

WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO MR. MONTGOMERY’S CAUTION AGAINST LECTURES?

Mr. New Dad was subjected to various views on what the perfect father would do in a series of everyday situations.

“When your kid gets bullied, you teach him to fight back with his fist or any other object that’ll knock the other kid on his heels.”

“Your boy is really the little you. So make sure he’s everything you wanted to be and didn’t become — make him love sports, if that’s you.”

“Don’t let him be a momma’s boy. You be the boss and that’s why you and not she should be carrying that baby today.”

The dads attending the celebration didn’t embark on the “back-in-the-day” journey. But to sum it up, Mr. New Dad felt as much an outsider as did his girlfriend.

Why humiliate the new parents? Claiming the event was a Father’s Day celebration in honor of the new dad on the block was a wicked plot engineered by a bunch of out-of-sync-with-the times neighbors.

A dad who isn’t married to his child’s mother isn’t any less of a dad. Honoring fathers isn’t predicated upon marital status.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Nate Hall

    I’m going to have to think about this more as I grew up in a ‘broken’ home and so many of my young peers were raised up by only one Parent and clearly suffered from it .

    My hat is always doffed to those who remain with their Children’s up bringing after a divorce or whatever but I don’t think it proper nor good for the Child to be born into a Family Unit that’s not united and thinks they can jump into bed with anyone sans consequences .

    Too many unhappy Children and miserable ‘Adults’ to believe un wedded Parents are an O.K. thing .

    I’m not sure it was a ‘mean celebration’ or just some Adults knowing how unhappy those unwedded new Parents were setting them selves up to be .

  2. Bill

    Shirlee,

    As usual, you conveyed a VERY PERTINENT AND IMPACTING BLOG, concerning FATHERHOOD and being a “Father” during these times. How so appropriate for Fathers Day! Not all of us are going to share the same beliefs about HOW to raise children; or HOW JUDGEMENTAL a society should/should not be towards children/families that did NOT follow the “Traditional Moralistic Route” of starting a family. But one thing is certain; regardless of how things “came to be” for a birth—–what is ALWAYS going to be needed, is NURTURING and GUIDANCE…for a “New Father” (and Mother) and for the Child. Yes, we all know about people whom, (like the “geezers” in your story), are the first ones to chastise, judge and castigate “others” for the choices that they made in their lives.

    We are living in a world where “old values of living” have seemingly been “tossed out of the window.” Births-out-of-wedlock; fathers leaving their children shortly after birth (and some mothers too); “Hollywood couples” being herald & celebrated for “just shacking up” with throngs of children in toe; and unfortunate mothers (and some fathers too) whom
    struggle trying to keep and raise their children…while living on the mean-streets of any city, U.S.A.—-all deserve our emotional compassion. No, it doesn’t make a situation “right,” regardless of how it occurred; but the days of snickering, gossiping, lambasting and just plain ol’-being-mean-spirited and cruel serve as no value. It is obvious that inept parenting skills; and the lack of the knowledgeable ability to care/raise/guide kids, have led to many unhappy and discontented lives in our society.

    In a “perfect” world (because we ALL are PERFECT…RIGHT? RIGHT?), there would be ONLY ONE WAY to have…and be a family. Well, we have many different types of families and family origins today. And the “conventional” families may not always be as “successful” with their outcomes, as a single parent home; or a divorced household; or a foster home; or an LGBT home; or an adopted home. But, one thing is for certain—–if we as a society and as a country, learned to VALUE ALL LIVES; AND REALIZED THAT ALL LIVES MATTER; THEN WE JUST MIGHT BE A BIT MORE SUCCESSFUL IN HAVING WELL-ADJUSTED & CONTENTED ADULTS, WHO COULD RAISE MORE HAPPY, CONFIDENT, RELIABLE, INDIVIDUALIZED (YET, COMMUNITY-MINDED) AND RESPONSIBLE CHILDREN.

    On this Fathers Day, let us remember that the most important aspect of being a father—-is to give your child Beneficial Values…to be a good, self-reliant, industrious and compassionate human being. Let us hope that for the future, Fathers and Fathers-to-be, will learn how to “Do the Right Thing” (as Spike Lee’s movie once said). And in learning how to do the right thing, then good fathers will become “the Rule” and NOT “the Exception to the Rule.” To have a “Happy Fathers Day” is not just focusing on a “commercial holiday;” but it must become a state of mind…to move our families…and our world FORWARD…without malice, without hatred and without exploitation of those whom have no voice.

    —–Bill Allen, Jr.

  3. Jean C. Troy

    I grew up in a loving and nurturing family with a Mom and a Dad, so I can’t say how it feels to grow up otherwise. I was one of those who had the preemie baby and the Father and I have stayed together for almost 6o years. Some of this time it was wonderful and sometimes it was not so wonderful but because of my experiences I choose not to give advice. I feel that each person needs to live the life they feel good about. I think as a community we should support the child so it does not feel that it is wrong to be born. support is a community thing and love is what it takes to raise a child.

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