Dadding – Present participle of the verb “to dad”.
To care for offspring in a very male way. Often, but not always, accomplished with beer, tv, and half-truths. Successful dadding involves the child being whole and unmarked, clean, fed, in diapers and PJs, and napping/asleep by the time the partner returns from whatever they were doing.
“I didn’t get the chance to clean up the apartment, repair the front porch, or wash the cars. I was dadding.”
“Our child is fed, bathed, and asleep. Nice dadding!” (Alternate usage: “Our child is still alive and in one piece. Nice dadding!”)
Source – Urban Dictionary – Dang_elf January 2013
Social media has been responsible for coining so many good terms of phrase that have found their way into the mainstream. In amongst all of the yolos, baes and cray crays, there is “dadding”. I love the term dadding for its sheer simplicity. If you’re a dad, and you’re doing dad stuff, then you’re dadding. I recently spotted this definition on that most esteemed source of modern English – Urban Dictionary. There’s a couple of things that I love about it. Firstly, that “to dad” is recognised as a verb (or a “doing word” for those of you that struggled with grammar at school). Being a dad is exactly that. It’s something you do – not necessarily something that you are. Any clown can be a dad – a few shots of tequila, a smooth pick up line, and 30 seconds of passion can be enough to earn you the title – but to master the act of dadding requires something a bit more special than a hangover and a broken condom.
As an aside, I also enjoy the reference to half-truths in this definition. If only I had a dollar for every half-truth that I’ve told my kids, their education would be well and truly funded by now.
“If you don’t let me brush the knots out of your hair you’ll end up with a family of crows living in it. caw caw…” *Dad imitates crow (poorly) and chases kids around the room with hairbrush in hand*
“Yes son of course I’m stronger than the Hulk and could pick up this house if I felt like it. Just not right now…”
“Sorry kids, when Mr Whippy starts playing that music that you can hear it means that he’s run out of ice cream. Better luck next time.”
Anyway I digress….
It’s very cool indeed that dadding is a recognised verb (in Urban Dictionary nonetheless), however, I do have some issues with this definition and I need to get them off my chest.
The definition, whilst amusing, implies that dads are somehow less competent and more lazy than our spouses, and that doing the bare minimum of feeding kids and getting them to sleep, whilst drinking beer and watching shark week on the Discovery Channel is all that it takes in order to be deemed to be good at dadding. This seems to be a common perception amongst large segments of broader society as well. Case in point, this image, which I spotted on social media just this morning.
This is complete bullshit, and I’m not sure what’s worse. The fact that this is a real child’s perception of his / her dad, or that it’s being celebrated on Facebook like it’s an achievement. Now don’t get me wrong – I have nothing against either beer or television, with both having played a major role in my formative years. But there’s just no way that we as dads should accept that beer drinking and tv watching is good dadding form. The moment we do, we’re accepting mediocrity, and that’s really not ok in my books.
So what is good dadding then? Obviously it includes all of the fun stuff that dads do with their kids like camping, fishing, building a fort, going to a sports match, throwing rocks at inanimate things, lighting your farts on fire – that sort of stuff is both awesome and essential. The problem is that if dads only ever do the fun stuff, then that leaves all of the more common ‘not so fun but still essential for your kids survival’ stuff to poor old mum (do we call this mumming?), and that hardly seems fair to me.
I believe that we should all be aiming much higher, and striving to achieve dadding virtuosity. The term “virtuosity” is occasionally defined as “performing the common uncommonly well” and is a very apt term when it comes to dadding. If you really want to achieve dadding virtuosity, you need to specialise in doing the common stuff with your kids and making it uncommonly awesome. Here’s a few suggestions to get you started:
- Strap sponges to your kids limbs (hint – don ‘t use duct tape, superglue or industrial adhesive) and let them ‘help’ to wash your car – even though everyone ends up wet and the car doesn’t really get clean.
- Use rude words to help the kids learn the alphabet (because no dad is ever too old for a bum or poo joke).
- Convince the kids to pretend they’re a giant diplodocus (herbivore dinosaur with a really really really long neck for those that don’t have a budding palaeontologist in the family) and that the broccoli on their plates is actually trees that need to be chomped. And then turn dinner into an exercise in deforestation.
- Turn packing up toys into a full blown race against the clock with prizes for the winner.
- Be like this guy and do the shopping with your kids dressed as superheroes. So virtuous.
If you can manage some or all of these things then you’re well on the way to being a dadding virtuoso.
Above all else though, I think that dadding is about being the best version of yourself that you can be, and most importantly, letting your kids see you doing it every single day. Author Clarence B Kelland, who once described himself as “the best second rate writer in America” wrote:
“My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.” If ever there was one succinct quote to sum up dadding, then this is it.
So to all of you dadding virtuosos out there– you know who you are – keep doing the common dad stuff uncommonly well, and keep lighting those farts.