I always feel bad after running into a Tiger Mom.

The Tiger Mom is world-famous for her organizational skills and her burning ambition.  Her kids don’t get sent to the principal’s office. They eat balanced meals. After school, they hurry off to Test Prep or violin lessons.

It got me thinking, if I had to give myself an animal-world analogue, as a stay-at-home parent, what would it be?

First, here are some of my strengths and weaknesses as a parent, expressed in grades.

Helping My Children Learn a Foreign Language:  F

Limiting Exposure to Questionable Movies and Music:  C

Making Sure They Write Thank-You Notes:  B-

Getting Them to Ice-Hockey Practice on Time:  A

Teaching Them to Be Respectful Toward Grandparents:  B

Protecting Them From Obvious Molestation or Abduction Threats:  B

Teaching Table Manners:  D

Taking Them to Church:  F

It’s not that I can’t be bothered to be a Tiger Mom.  I do spend a lot of energy on my kids.  I drive them back and forth to the hockey rink.  I drive them back and forth to friends’ houses.  I go on their school trips.  I nag them about homework, and hygiene.  I help with math word problems.

I just don’t know where I would find the extra time for Mozart, or Mandarin lessons.

As my workaday wife said,  “You know, we talk about a lot of things — ballet classes, art, going to foreign countries with the kids.  But the only thing which ever really gets done is … hockey.”

She has a point.

To avoid thinking more deeply about my wife’s point, here are some of the animals which I believe conjure my Stay-at-Home Dadness.

Golden Lab Dad.  While the Tiger Mom is strong, agile, and always on the alert, I am more of a golden Labrador Retriever.

I’m familiar, non-threatening, somewhat lazy.  I tend to live more in-the-moment.  I am not above begging, or eating scraps from the floor.

Javelina Dad.  I share no similarities with a javelina.  I just like the animal.

One of my favorite parts of The Royal Tenenbaums is Gene Hackman wondering aloud where his stuffed javelina went.

Meerkat Dad.  I think this is the one, folks.

The meerkat is not an active, noble beast.  Mainly, it stands watch.  Compared to a tiger, the meerkat is way down on the food chain.  A lot of the time it just stands around, keeping an eye out.

From the photos I’ve seen, the meerkat shares my posture, literally and figuratively.  The meerkat isn’t freaking out or panicking.  But it’s not jumping to get involved either.

I spend a lot of time hanging around.  I wait for the kids to get out of school.  I wait for them to finish hockey practice.  I wait for them to pick out the new shoes they want.  I wait for them to finish talking to friends about inane video games.

To put the best spin on it, at least I’m making sure they don’t get abducted or molested.  (Or taught how to play a music instrument.)

I am not a lithe, active, taut creature, like a tiger.  I am thin, preoccupied, watchful, frequently bored, sometimes distracted.

The meerkat comparison is not perfect.  Unlike a meerkat, I am unable to eat a venomous scorpion with impunity.  Nor have I ever been to southern Africa, where meerkats reside.  In these respects, I am unlike a meerkat.

On the other hand, I don’t mind crawling inside the nasty plastic tunnels at McDonalds Play-Places, just as meerkats in Africa spend a great portion of their lives tunneling below ground.

Nor am I fussy about germs.  From photos and footage, it appears meerkats are lax in this regard, too.

I can proudly say I would not stand idly by if a wild African snake tried to snatch one of my kids.  And you know what?  Meerkats wouldn’t either.  They would sound the alarm, or even attack.

If you have ever seen the TV show Meerkat Manor, then you have seen the sad consequences of a meerkat-snake scrap.

When a meerkat does sound the alarm during emergency, it’s not a full-throated roar.  It’s more of a bark or chirp, unfortunately.

Oh well.  It is what it is.  I am Meerkat Dad.  Hear me chirp.  

At least I am not Naked Mole Rat Dad.

About Kit Troyer

Kit Troyer lives in Los Angeles. He worked previously as a newspaper reporter and a criminal defense attorney. For the last 15 years, he has been a stay-at-home dad. But that gig is running out. Kids will soon be moving out and moving on.
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5 Responses to MEERKAT DAD

  1. Nancy says:

    This is hilarious!! Please publish it…HuffPo?…for the Meerkat Moms (like me) out there,too.

  2. Great post! Very funny! I think I’m a dog. I like all the affection and physical nature of having a kid but I’m lazy about going places. I stay up later than everyone else thinking I’m protecting them. And my kid has been licking me lately!

  3. Jennifer Rissier says:

    And like the Meerkat King from Madagascar “you like to move it, move it” insert video from last year’s freeze dance at the Walkathon.

  4. Marina says:

    Dear Kit, For anyone who lives in the UK, the meerkat conjures up something completely different–a wildly (no pun intended) successful advertising campaign for, well, you know what, it dawns on me that actually the advertising campaign is entirely unsuccessful because I cannot for the life of me remember what the campaign actually advertises–just remember the stuffed/animated meerkats that speak with a vaguely eastern european accent and have the catch phrase ‘simples.’ They are everywhere–cuddly toys of these televised characters. But I’m sure if they were parents they would be just like you…
    And now I’m late for a meeting…
    Fondly, Marina
    PS: Check out ‘Compare the Meerkat’ on Youtube for inspiration.

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