Social media tells us it’s a great time to be a father, especially when small children are involved.
You’ve probably seen the dad who put his young daughter in a plastic container and treated her to a virtual roller coaster, moving her in sync with a ride video.
Then there’s the dad who styled his daughter’s hair, and the dads who played dress-up with their kids. And Batman Dad and Gnome Dad and the many other dads who have gone viral.
WATCH: Autumn giggles as she climbs and dives on the ‘Poor People Roller Coaster’
It reminds me of when my son was in his cute-and-adorable stage. Even without cameras, I got my fair amount of attention for doing nothing more than being a sidekick.
That’s because it was a lot easier to impress kids with minimal dad skills in the late 1990s, before viral videos raised the bar on parental creativity.
It was easier to impress moms, too
I often took my then-2-year-old son to the “mall,” a large indoor retail space where sizeable crowds often congregated. As I pushed him along in his stroller, I gathered appreciative looks from women (mostly moms, I was sure) who had rarely seen a single dad with a child instead of a beer.
Looks went from appreciation to awe when, rather than correcting him when he climbed out of the stroller, I comically chased him as he pushed it. I even gently intervened as he careened toward various hazards, no doubt enjoying a standing ovation in the minds of female onlookers marveling at this oddity of male nature capably handling a free-range child.
But then I goofed…
My peak as a single dad occurred seconds before my fall from parental grace.
With my toddler cradled in my right arm and diaper bag slung over my left shoulder, we headed toward the main entrance of Sun Devil Stadium for the Arizona Cardinals open house. We were still a football field from the gate when a half-dozen Cardinal cheerleaders surrounded us.
They “oohed” and “aahed” over a biological pairing that at the time was seldom observed in nature. My son giggled and turned his head, a cute and adorable shy-guy routine.
“Oh my goodness, so cute,” one of the women said. “How old?”
“Thirty-nine,” I said. “And thanks, you’re too kind.”
I thought it was an adorably cute thing to say until her face fell fast enough to hit terminal velocity. The group disbanded and I didn’t even have a souvenir calendar to show for it.
At least I had a few shining (and easily achievable) moments as a parent before social media gave us such viral fathers as roller-coaster dad and hair-stylist dad.
Then again, it’s pretty cool to go viral in your household.