I AM BARACK OBAMA, and not just because I'm in my 40s, handsome and articulate (modest too!).
I am Barack Obama because I'm the father of two young children, the husband of one wife, and the leader of a free world only slightly different from the president's.
In his free world, everyone is free to criticize. In my free world - otherwise known as my house - LaVeta is free to criticize. Everyone else is free to do what I say.
In the president's free world, there's a vice president and numerous Cabinet members. In my free world, one person holds every job. LaVeta is not just the vice president. She's secretary of transportation while taking the kids to school, secretary of education while making them do homework, and secretary of homeland security while being overprotective. She also serves as my personal assistant, making frequent, naughty visits to my private Oval Office.
In truth, though, my free world is nowhere near as complicated as the president's. He has to deal with a defiant Kim Jong-il. I have to deal with a defiant 16-year-old. He has to craft a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I have to craft a two-plate solution for the last piece of chicken. He has to navigate the nation through a recession. I have to navigate my car through traffic.
We are on equal footing, however, when it comes to parenting. In fact, I bet our daddy-duties occur on synchronized schedules that go something like this:
"OK, kids, it's time to get up," the wife says in a sing-song soprano. "Don't make me get Daddy."
Of course, that's what the kids want. That's why they react to their mothers by pushing the snooze button. They're waiting for Daddy to bring the noise.
At 6:15 a.m., both Barack Obama and I do just that.
"Get up now!" we growl in unison, and the shockwaves from our voices meet halfway between Washington and Philadelphia.
2 seconds later
Our kids begin scrambling like eggs. Teeth are brushed, hair is combed, faces are moisturized (especially lips that have gone eight hours without Vaseline). When all is said and done, our little people are marched to breakfast, and turned over to the secretaries of transportation, education and homeland security. In other words, they're given to their mothers.
The kids come home from school and immediately set their mothers' nerves on fire. Invariably, there's one kid who's a talker, and one who's an aggressor. The talker wreaks auditory havoc on the aggressor, who responds by swinging repeatedly.
The leader of the free world gets home, and Mommy is standing at the door with a frozen grin, a handful of kids, and a single word: "Here."
2 seconds later
The talker hits Daddy with a 10-minute tirade, refusing to pause, punctuate or even breathe between sentences. By the time Daddy gets a word in edgewise, the aggressor has jumped in front of the talker. "Can you take me somewhere Daddy? By myself? Without her? Now?" The talker responds with the Declaration of Independence. "If all people are created equal, you can't leave me behind without a hearing before Mommy, because you'd be violating my right to due process. And furthermore . . ."
Dinner time. The talker refuses to eat her vegetables because they taste like grass. The aggressor responds by kicking the talker under the table. Screaming ensues. Dinner is ruined. The leaders of the free world are forced to abandon diplomacy and use the two shortest sentences available to every dad. "Shut! Up!"
Bedtime. The kids line up for a family prayer and ask for everything from Barbie heads to ponies before uttering a phrase that melts both my heart and the president's. "God bless, Daddy," they say in unison, and that's when we know it's all worth it. *
Solomon Jones' column appears every Saturday. He can be reached at