What Happens When Dad’s In Charge


Written by Ron Helwig



A Bow for Piglet

(What happens when a dad’s in charge)


There are many differences between my wife and me. I speak on the phone for fewer than three minutes at a time; for me, shopping is a form of hunting, not gathering; I have no idea what I am going to wear to the party tonight; I pack one bag for vacation; I have fewer than 30 pair of shoes—hell, fewer than eight; I do not ask for directions; the list goes on.


I love my wife. She is an amazing woman. These days, relatively few moms stay at home with the kids, even fewer actually want that job, and only a select few are really good at it. My wife is one of those moms who not only stays at home, but has the kids involved in activities, learning new things, and always, always dressed nicely. I can understand having a child look neat and tidy, but I will never see the point in a child wearing shoes before being able to walk or wearing a bow before growing hair. For the first year of my daughter’s life, she was nearly bald but never without a bow. I often wondered if it were stapled or glued to her scalp.


Men are wired differently. I will never care if my daughter has a bow in her hair. This is not a macho thing—I genuinely do not care. I believe that my little girl is the most beautiful creature on the planet. I mean, she has me wrapped. She will be the death of me, no doubt. It’s just that I don’t think the bow matters.


Our differences were never so obvious as the time my wife went to a wedding shower and I got to dress my 18-month-old daughter for a day with Daddy. Due to my feelings about the bow and my inability to understand why blue and black cannot be worn together, I’m usually not allowed to dress my little girl. I had tried a few times only to have the outfit changed by my wife. So, naturally, I gave up—just like giving up on doing the dishes (Damn, honey, I tried so hard to load the dishwasher correctly).


This time, I told my wife to leave the dressing to me and she did—against her better judgment. My wife had only one request: “Please don’t forget the bow.” She should have been more specific.


After she left, I decided what we would do for the day. Because my daughter could not yet swing a golf club, I considered two ideas. I would watch sports and teach Mia the subtleties of the game of football, or I would take her to Home Depot. Yes, this is what we men would prefer to do with our spare time just about every day. I let my daughter decide and she chose “Go bye-bye.” Home Depot it was. Next came the dreaded wardrobe decision.


I looked in the closet for something to put on her that was easy. No small buttons, no outfits that needed an extra white pair of panty things over the diaper, no multiple-piece ensemble or anything that needed to be kept neat. I was getting to slim pickings. Then I found the perfect outfit: Piglet. Yes, Piglet. That old Halloween outfit was perfect—only a front zipper all the way from the crotch to the neck and a hood with pig ears, eliminating the need for a bow. How perfect!


I dressed her in about 12 seconds, then spent 10 minutes getting shoes and socks on her feet. The outfit was perfect except it was waaaay too small. I considered taking it off and after thinking of how much more work that would be, I rationalized, “I was able to get the zipper up; It must fit just fine. Maybe the legs are supposed to be three-quarter length.” And back to “don’t forget the bow”: I did not forget it, I remembered it and chose not to put it on her. I got my wife on a technicality. Many football games are won on technicalities. Besides, I have a sense of style. Who wears a bow with a piglet costume?


I stopped at my mom’s house on the way out for her to snap a few photos of the outfit which I, of course realized, was ridiculous. My mom took the pictures, but warned, “Tracy is going to die if you take her out in that.”


At Home Depot we got a lot of stares, but it was mostly guys who probably thought I was a genius for designing such a simple outfit. One last stop on the way home was Sports Authority. For some reason, on this day the place was full of nothing but women. Really. There must have been a sale on estrogen at this place. Anyway, I got a surprisingly favorable response. Everyone stopped to say, “Look how cute” and “What a sweet outfit.” To this day, my wife swears that is code for, “Poor child. She will never be able to run for public office.”


I got pictures at the checkout line for proof to my wife that we did in fact go out in the ridiculous outfit. I put my little girl down for a nap as soon as I got home. My wife arrived home from her shower just in time to get Piglet up from her slumber. She was less than upset. She was, in fact, happy that my daughter and I had such a great day together. She even went as far as to say she looked cute in her outfit. I could hardly believe that the whole thing went over so well.


After dinner, bath, and bedtime for my Mia, my wife sat back and again giggled about the outfit her prized daughter wore in public. She took one last look at the pictures and asked with a puzzled look, “Where is her bow?”

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