Hawaiian Time

By Dalton Tanonaka

Friday, January 15, 1999

Don’t forget
baby’s dad

There are more than enough holidays in the year, I know that. Besides the official public holidays, there's Earmuff Patent Day on March 13, and did you know that today is Hug Your Cat Day?

In Hong Kong, my favorite was Tomb Sweeping Day on April 6, and in Japan, Respect for the Aged Day on Sept. 15 (little boys saluted me).

But let me suggest just one more date to mark on your calendar: Forgotten New Father's Day.

Actually, I've been living that day every day since my daughter was born seven months ago. Don't get me wrong -- I'm not complaining, but merely stating the status of just about every guy who just had his first child.

You know the scene. Relatives or friends buzz into your house and make a beeline for the baby with smiles, smooches and enough presents to sustain the Chukwu octopulets.

Then the quick glance back --

"Oh -- hi, Dalton."

Well, OK, I thought I was the Invisible Man for a second there.

Maybe I have been around more than 40 years longer than Baby Dior, and you just saw me in Longs, but don't forget who got this whole infant thing going.

You see, while mom's bonding during breast-supplied mealtime, dad's out in the cold, or maybe out in the yard, looking for a way to get in on the action.

"Honey, she just exploded on the white wall, come quick!" was the first cry to join the family circle. I eagerly obliged, deciding that I would've pointed baby the opposite direction while changing her diaper.

I am trying to stay in the keiki loop with morning garden walks and joint tub splashing. But, please, summon me for more than emergency clean-up duty.

Let me say that I worship the ground that all mothers walk on. After watching Yoko endure the trials of pregnancy -- an itchy rash, a weight gain that would make me marry Richard Simmons and a teeth-grinding labor that painkillers only dulled -- I bow to the female species.

But is it OK to expect just a few moments of spousal affection?

"My wife didn't let me get near her for one year," revealed a neighbor, who then waited another eight to have his next child.

I'm not merely talking about "having a bonk," as Yoko's British doctor put it. I'm remembering when I would earn a much-welcomed massage after a long transpacific flight. Or get a regular hug before the lights went out.

Honey, I know you're busy and often tired this first year. Just give me a hint that our time will come again.

I ask on behalf of all new dads:

Bullet To friends and family making a house call, acknowledge the father's presence within at least the first two hours. That way you don't accidentally sit on him as you plop down on the sofa.

Bullet To wives: Surprise your spouse with a cold drink during the playoff game, but don't mash up his beef jerky like baby's broccoli. And squeeze his hand, for starters, in bed tonight and whisper something in his ear. "Your turn to empty the Diaper Genie" doesn't count.

Bullet And to everyone: Don't call us new dads "Daddy," unless you're looking up at me from the crib and making history by talking before you can crawl.

Dalton Tanonaka is a veteran print and broadcast
journalist who's worked in Hong Kong, Japan, the
mainland and Hawaii. He can be reached by
e-mail at tanonaka@aol.com

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