Stop calling my wife, dammit.
Not you, weird dude from work. I’m talking to YOU, doctor’s office. The one who has been told multiple times that if you want to get ahold of a parent, try dad first.
My wife has never even been to this doctor. (It’s an orthodontist to be exact.) My son has been through several rounds of examination and treatment. For work reasons, she couldn’t make the parental consult meeting (she was available via phone if I needed to run something by her.) She doesn’t go to these meetings because it is MY JOB.
The next appointment is in two days. And then I get the fateful text from the wife:
“Stupid doctor left me a VM again.” (It’s been paraphrased for cleanliness.)
Listen, this isn’t even about making our lives easier. If you, a medical professional, want to help with our children, you need to reach the primary caregiver. Not the working-her-ass-off, leaning-in, awesome-but-busy mom.
At least you aren’t alone. The school nurse still calls my wife, even after five years and two children who both tell her to call me. This is even though my name appears first on the contact card, there’s no work number for me and I’ve even put an arrow to my number that says “call dad first.” Every once in a while, I’ll get the “did they call you instead yet” text and I know that if the nurse doesn’t call soon, I better call her.
The school office has finally learned, although I think it took until I was elected PTA co-president for them to fully get it. The teachers, much to their credit, have understood from day one that this dad got there a lot faster when there was a sick or paint-covered child. So there’s that.
I can’t imagine how they handle same-sex couples. If there are two dads, does no one get a call? If it’s lesbians, does it force the office assistant into some kind of Linda-Blair-esque, spinning perpetual-motion head spin, trying to decide which mom to call? Perhaps, like bread buttered on both sides, that’s our solution for renewable energy.
Listen: In the grand scheme of things, this is clearly a first-world issue, and not even the biggest one at that. But here’s what this assumption does: It reinforces the incorrect paradigm that men are unable to handle their children’s care and the unfortunate sociological expectation that women can – and will – drop everything in their lives for their kids. This hurts all men and all women.
If we want to live in a world where everyone contributes to their family and society as they see fit, we need to start respecting that for the most part, almost any task can be done by anyone regardless of the contents of their pants.
Oh, and if you’re the medical professional that provoked the writing of this column and you figure it out, you can win a prize. Just call my children’s primary caregiver.
Josh Kross is an at-home dad to his three kids. He engineers and produces The Modern Dads Podcast and the critically acclaimed Hip-Hop podcast, The Cipher (theciphershow.com). He’s also a PTA co-president.