Men Behaving Dadly
Can something as complex as a father’s skill be measured? Yes, it can.
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The other night, around 1 a.m., one of the little Closers started wailing. I faked sleep, and Mrs. Closer trundled off to soothe him. Next morning, I got a verbal beatdown from my wife. I responded that I'm better than 90 percent of new fathers, and she said, "Wanna bet?" Yes, I do. I devised a two-part test to measure a new father's paternal chops: a questionnaire analyzing daddy knowledge and sensitivity, followed by a series of timed trials, each with its own point value. My wife administered my test, and I got eight other women to test their husbands. Each dad's full questionnaire and scores in the 2008 World Sippy Cup are here at Chicagomag.com. (The print magazine for August had a selection of results for six of the nine men who participated.)
Community organizer, 37, Chicago
TOTAL SCORE: 69
As judged by his wife, Emily:
1. Does he know your child's diaper size? Yes.
2. How many hours a night of sleep does your husband need? 7.
3. Does he know the size and consistency of your child's last bowel movement? Yes, though it's usually not a topic of conversation.
4. Did he put together the crib? Yes.
5. Does he have any skills the kid adores? Dancing to "Inside and Out" by Feist.
6. What would he do if there were a big game the same day as a party your kid was invited to? Go to the party and periodically check the TV.
7. Has he ever grocery shopped alone with the kid? Yes. Trader Joe's on Saturday mornings.
8. Did he call you while he was there? Frequently.
9. Who does the bulk of the disciplining in your home? 60% me, 40% Matt.
10. If you were to ask him to get the wipes, could he find them without help? Yes.
11. How many different characters can he name from Thomas the Tank Engine? 1.
12. Does he know your child's favorite book? Yes.
13. Does he know your child's blood type? No.
14. Has he ever referred to time with your child as "babysitting"? No.
15. When the kid cries in the middle of the night, does he fake sleep? Not sure. Definitely needs to be told it's his turn to go.
16. When you come home from a day out, does he head to the bathroom before the kids get their needs met? No.
17. On a scale of 1 to 10, how involved has he been in potty training your child (10 being totally involved, 1 being utterly uninterested)? 6.
18. Has he ever expressed violent emotions toward Raffi, Elmo, or The Wiggles? No, but we don't listen to "Willaby Wallaby Woo" much anymore.
19. How does he do in the security line at the airport? He folds up the stroller and loads the bins. He is a pretty good sport about it.
20. How fast can he:
a) change a diaper (pee)? 19.7 seconds.
b) change a diaper (poo)? 47.3 seconds. He generally changes them without thinking twice that it's his responsibility. Of course, it is not uncommon for me to find small tied-up plastic bags with a poopy diaper in random places around the house.
c) get kid dressed? 31 seconds.
d) assemble Pack 'n Play? 14.1 seconds.
e) disassemble Pack 'n Play? 26.4 seconds.
f) buckle kid into car? 15 seconds.
g) find small baggie of crushed Goldfish in packed diaper bag (estimation)? If I put them there Matt will NEVER find them. If he puts them there, there is a 75% chance he'll forget about them.
21. Anything else? Matt bathed Lucy in 1 minute and 8 seconds, but I docked him 10 seconds for not cleaning her feet. Or legs.
NOTE: Matt works like a maniac and still managed to win the 2008 Sippy Cup. He is universally detested by the rest of us for setting the bar so high.