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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

MY DAD LEAVES INCREDIBLY EMBARRASSING COMMENTS UNDER EVERY PHOTO I POST. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

MY DAD LEAVES INCREDIBLY EMBARRASSING COMMENTS UNDER EVERY PHOTO I POST. WHAT SHOULD I DO? foxi news

Q: MY DAD LEAVES INCREDIBLY EMBARRASSING COMMENTS UNDER EVERY PHOTO I POST TO FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

A: Let’s face it: Dads are embarrassing. I remember, a couple of years ago, reading a newspaper story about a boy named Brooklyn who was so distressed by the prospect of his friends catching sight of his dweeby father that he insisted his dad drop him off around the corner from school and stay out of view. Why was this a newspaper story, you ask? Don’t millions of mortified children do this every day? Yes, and that’s my point. In this case, however, the dad in question was David Beckham. See, dad-barrassment is universal a condition of existence, like the weather. What matters is how well we endure it: whether we slough it off or allow it to seep inside us. Consider another famous dad: Teddy Roosevelt. Yes, that guy America’s first presidential man’s man. This is a guy who hunted bears and lions, who got into bar fights with cowboys, who resigned as assistant secretary of the Navy to actually fight a war rather than just plan one. Teddy Roosevelt loved war. War was his jam. As the historian Alexis Coe told me recently, “He treated everything like a battlefield.” In October 1912, Roosevelt was about to give a campaign speech in Milwaukee when a would-be assassin shot him in the chest. The bullet ripped through the copy of his speech in his pocket. There was a big bloody wound. Still, Roosevelt spoke for more than an hour, like a wounded infantryman still bayoneting people on the battlefield. I’d called Coe after listening to the podcast Presidents Are People Too!, which she cohosts with former Daily Show head writer Elliott Kalan. Their Roosevelt episode suggested that Teddy’s warmongering machismo was bound up in his dad. During the Civil War, Roosevelt had watched his father, Theodore senior, pay for a surrogate to fight in his place. For Teddy, Coe says, “this was always a great source of shame. His celebration of masculinity and war, his romanticization of war as an experience to all men, is a reaction to his dad.” And if, to overcompensate for this excruciating embarrassment, Roosevelt felt compelled to speechify for over an hour while his torso hemorrhaged, then that’s his decision. But it also affected his own parenting. Roosevelt had four sons, and he wanted his boys to be the valorous warriors his own father hadn’t been. When World War I broke out, the youngest, Quentin, memorized an eye chart to ensure he’d pass his exam and be able to serve. He was, in short order, shot down and killed by the Germans. Roosevelt was crestfallen. “To feel that one has inspired a boy to conduct that has resulted in his death has a pretty serious side for a father,” he wrote. He died himself six months later.

But the misery he wrought continued. One son, Archibald, had his knee ripped apart by a grenade. Another, Ted Jr., was wounded in France, then died of a heart attack while serving in World War II. Kermit, Roosevelt’s second son, served in both wars, then ultimately shot himself in the head on a base in Alaska.You wrote because you didn’t like some comments on Instagram and Facebook. I’m talking about shame and war and death. It’s hardly fair, you’ll say, and you’re right. But this story shows, I think, that dad-barrassment is a powerful and unpredictable force; it warps the imagination, it pollutes the soul. The perpetrators are, inevitably, also victims.

By all means, ask your father gently if he wouldn’t mind toning down the comments. Tell him to text you privately instead, if you’d prefer. But ultimately the onus is not on your father to stop embarrassing you, but on you to reconcile the embarrassment you feel. I worry you’ve started seeing your father primarily as an engine of embarrassment, not as a complex human being entitled to express his wit, his playfulness, his love. So, stomach it. Take the bullet, carry on.

By Jon Mooallem

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