Tony Woodlief | Author

Father of the Year

I’m in an air museum with all three boys in tow. The two oldest are seated in the replica cockpit of a helicopter. The youngest and most troublesome is strapped to my back in a contraption designed for children less dense than iridium, which he is not.

I am trying to be a good father, though they tax my patience, especially the wee one with his ear-pulling and newfound spitting skills. To that end I am leaning into the cockpit to show my sons how the controls work.


It is the voice of a librarian, a schoolteacher, a junior senator from New York, or some other such female-type killjoy. I am physiologically and ideologically predisposed to ignore such voices. I continue my instruction.


I glance in her direction. It is a woman with her own children in tow. She looks concerned. She is a concerned mother.

“Yes?” I ask this in the terse-yet-polite voice I reserve for people I am not allowed to openly despise. What business could this woman possibly have with me?

“You’re whacking your baby’s head against the top of the helicopter.”

Oh. Well then. I had heard the thumping, but as a parent you grow immune to the minor noises.

Little stinker should sing out if he’s hurt, if you ask me. Still, a good reminder that even when we think we are something special, the odds are against it.

On Key

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