WITH FATHER'S DAY fast approaching, I've been reflecting on the solemn duty of fatherhood, and the love, caring and devotion it requires.
A father's devotion is often expressed while playing catch, tying shoes and wiping booties. It's manifested while watching sporting events, wrestling on the floor, or reading bedtime stories.
A father's loving care, as I told my teenage daughter recently, ain't always pretty. Sometimes it's tough. And while I strive to be the "Cosby Show" type of dad - funny, patient, always having the right answer - the reality is, I've often taken cues from tougher fathers. For instance, I kind of liked it when the late Bernie Mac told his TV nieces and nephews that he would "beat their heads till the white meat showed." Not that I would ever do that, but it's nice to have the threat in your back pocket, just in case.
I also liked the way Archie Bunker tortured Meathead when he dated and eventually married Gloria. After all, it's every father's duty to hassle any young man who comes sniffing around his daughter. Fathers know what men really want. Unfortunately, most daughters don't want to believe us when we tell them. That's why they end up marrying losers like Meathead, and divorcing them after admitting that father knew best all along.
There are fathers I don't idolize. Take Herman Munster, who loved his son Eddie so much that he allowed him to sleep with his creepy, G.I. Joe-like doll, Wolfie, for at least three years too long. I could've dealt with that, but when Herman sent Eddie to school wearing that Little Lord Fauntleroy get-up, he went too far. I don't know where 1313 Mockingbird Lane was actually located, but if Herman had done that in Philly, he would've been subjecting the boy to a daily schoolyard beat down. Definitely not cool.
My little ones don't know much about Bernie Mac, Archie or Herman. All they know is what they see. Since we've limited their Disney and Nickelodeon exposure and steered them toward cartoons with a little less kissing, they're intimately familiar with the parenting styles of Fred Flintstone and George Jetson. On a lark, my wife, LaVeta, recently asked them which father was most like me. Faced with choosing between the laid-back George Jetson and the boisterous Fred Flintstone, they both said I was more like Fred. When she asked them why, they said I yell a lot.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I'm a caveman at heart. I don't go to the quarry and ride dinosaurs. Nor do I eat bronto-burgers and pterodactyl wings. I do, however, yell a lot, and I've gotta work on that, because frankly, I don't do it enough.
Why, you ask? It's simple. When moms yell, they have to back it up by throwing shoes. In fact, I believe there are moms who could play quarterback if football were played with footwear. Rather than yelling out colors and numbers like "Blue 42" prior to running a play, they could yell something like this:
"Boy, didn't I tell you to take out that trash? Hut! Hut!"
The kids would then run pass patterns, and mom would hit them right between the numbers with a shoe.
Fathers are different. We usually don't have to hurl anything. Our voices alone are enough to make kids stop whatever they're doing. That's why fathers, as part of their commitment to love and care for their children, are duty-bound to yell. When fathers yell, and do it well, kids behave better, the household runs smoothly, and mom gets to keep her shoes on.
I am therefore committed to increasing my yelling output by at least 10 percent over the next six months. I'm doing it for my kids' own good. So if Eve and Little Solomon want to accuse me of being Fred Flintstone, I've got three words for them. Yabba Dabba Doo. *
Solomon Jones' column appears every Saturday. He can be reached at