Why Do Men So Infrequently Seem To Know The Grades Their Kids Are In?

It’s a more endemic problem than maybe we openly discuss.

Ted Bauer

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Whenever you write something about fatherhood and you’re not a father, you get a few hucksters from the cheap seats telling you that you “wouldn’t understand” or “don’t know what it’s like.” Got it. I’d agree with that. When you’re not a dad by reasons of infertility, which is a shitty thing to go through that I wouldn’t wish on any other living soul to be perfectly honest, you can also get accused of resentment. Does Infertility inspire resentment? Absolutely. But that part can be managed out a bit.

I had noticed this trend about a decade ago, when some of my college friends started having kids who were entering school-aged years, and often the dad would say: “Amy? I think she’s in third this year?” It often seemed like he really had no clue.

A few months ago, I was bartending at Buffalo Wild Wings (#nice), and I had a couple come in. They were sitting at the bar, ordering their 15 wings and random old fashioned drinks — I am unclear who pairs wings and an Old Fashioned, but eh — and I asked them about their kids. The husband said something like, “Sophie is in fourth this year.” The wife looked appalled and said, “Um, kindergarten.”

That’s a really, really big miss. That’s like, age 5 to age 10. That’s a whole other lifetime for that kindergartner.

Yesterday at church I had a less-egregious one: a guy told me his daughter was in Pre-K, and the wife said, “Um, kindergarten.” I guess that’s not as bad as 4th to K, right?

I’d say I encounter one or two of these every few weeks in casual discourse, so maybe 2–4 a month. Obviously I am more attuned to them because of my own situation.

Whenever people bitch at me about me commenting on infertility, which oddly happens a lot (support and general empathy would also be nice), I try to explain it this way: look, for a lot of people, getting that “fatherhood” title is the biggest thing they will ever get, far exceeding any professional accomplishments. If you get the title, especially if you get the title without much effort or time spent, I think you should value the title. In my mind, knowing what grades your kids are presently in seems to being active and engaged. It says to me that you value the role and the title. If your wife has to correct you and you miss your kid’s grade by three years to five years, that signals to me that you’re checked-the-fuck-out of fatherhood. Does it necessarily mean that? No. I might be extrapolating.

But if you get the title, value the title. That’s all I would ask, as someone that will probably never get said title.

Am I wrong here?

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Ted Bauer

Mostly write about work, leadership, friendship, masculinity, male infertility, and some other stuff along the way. It's a pleasure to be here.