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It’s Hepcat’s day

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Hepcat hates Father’s Day and could care less about gifts and cards. He feels the same way about Mother’s Day, but Smartmom has trained him to line up — along with the rest of the male population of Park Slope — at the Clay Pot to procure her Mother’s Day offering.

Teen Spirit and the Oh So Feisty One figured out that the best way to celebrate Father’s Day is to ignore it. OSFO did make him a breakfast feast of scrambled eggs and bacon. But she was decidedly nonchalant about the whole thing. And she did NOT make him a card.

Teen Spirit had a card for his dad, but never bothered to give it to him. So much for that Leave it to Beaver image of the kids giving dad a hand-painted ashtray or a tie clip.

Smartmom always gets Hepcat a card, but she has a hell of a time finding one without golf clubs, fishing rods, baseballs, or neckties. Those images are so not Hepcat (who does, from time to time, wear a necktie — but in an ironic way).

Smartmom wonders why there are no cards that truly represent fathers like Hepcat: those who change Huggies, cook Annie’s Macaroni, memorize Music for Aardvarks tapes, clean up vomit, and check their daughter’s hair for lice eggs.

In Park Slope, Dads are not just about barbecues and toolboxes. Yes, Hepcat knows his way around a Weber, but he’s so much more, how you say?, dimensional.

Minutes after Teen Spirit was born, Hepcat held the tiny newborn tenderly and stared into his huge blue eyes — no pacing the waiting room or handing out cigars for him.

Once home, Hepcat taught Smartmom how to change diapers. And he was far less freaked out by the umbilical stump and the circumcision bandages than she was.

He even helped Smartmom figure out how to breastfeed: “I grew up on dairy farm,” he said. “I know all about this sort of thing.”

Hepcat’s father, of course, never changed a diaper in his life. And Smartmom is pretty sure that her dad never did, either.

Men have come a long way, baby. In fact, Smartmom and Hepcat have turned many gender roles on their head.

After Teen Spirit was born, Hepcat worked at home, while Smartmom worked 9–5 in the city. She was the one who didn’t come home until 7 pm, dying to hear her boy yell, “Mommy’s home!” as he ran down the hallway — already bathed and in pajamas.

Hepcat was the guy taking Teen Spirit to music classes, playdates and class trips to the Staten Island Children’s Museum.

True, he didn’t shop for groceries, do the dishes, make the beds, throw out the coffee filters, or clean the toilet — but that’s for a forthcoming column about how Smartmom and Hepcat’s gender roles haven’t changed enough.

When OSFO came along, Hepcat and Smartmom switched roles again. Smartmom stayed home, while he worked in the city. And Hepcat was the one dying to hear his girl yell, “Daddy’s home!” as she ran down the hallway — already bathed and in pajamas.

Hepcat was eventually outsourced from the Big Corporation, and he went back to cooking scallop risotto, making conversation with the Third Street moms, and cutting OSFO’s bangs.

In the process, Hepcat learned that girls need their dads as much or more than boys. Countless studies have shown how important the father-daughter relationship is when it comes to a girl’s self-esteem, emotional health and well-being.

Hepcat rose to the occasion — and now has a daughter who loves volleyball, power tools, build-a-bears, and manicures.

As for Teen Spirit, it’s a real high-wire act being his dad. They have door slamming fights, as well as tender moments like the one at Lenox Hill Hospital all those years ago.

So even if he hates Father’s Day, Hepcat still deserves a pat on the back (or a hug and a kiss) for keeping up with the times and reinventing fatherhood. Smartmom will still scour the card shops for a card that evokes Hepcat-style parenting. OSFO will still nonchalantly scramble those eggs and microwave the bacon. And Teen Spirit will buy the card and not give it to dad.

What better way to show their appreciation? Really.

Louise Crawford, a Park Slope mom, also operates “Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn.”
Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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