What Daddy Do Poem


There is a particular line, ‘Like a Man’, repeated throughout the poem that What Daddy Do, The

Children’s Book, originated from, that could perhaps serve to alienate some towards the overriding

intent, the pervasive weight of its emphasis on this notion of masculinity.

But I wrote What Daddy Do, The Poem, in fact, to highlight this hypocrisy, and to, in a less than overt

manner, make light of these false conventions.

I remembered my Dad as I constructed this poem, who was, for me, as a child, the absolute epitome of

Shaft-like, Afroed Masculinity.

I remembered how adept he was at caring for me and my siblings and what seemed like a

neighborhood-full of random kids as he drove them around in the Sunday School van.

He didn’t shy away from compassion and domesticity when necessary, and yet, he wasn’t likely to

admit as much at the Deacon’s Board Meeting, was he?

No, I grew up to learn to pretend that a particular form of caring for the kids was women’s work; all

that cooking and cleaning, that wasn’t for us men.

But, in truth, I knew that my Daddy changed diapers and cried when appropriate and held me real tight

when I needed him.

He changed what he could from what he had learned and tasked me with completing the circle.

Once you know better, you do better. Or at least, you’d better. Right?

So, I want my sons to be better. To be more open and accepting and understanding than me.

The best of what I can hope for, though, is to continue to add to the foundation that my Daddy laid

down for me.

And that’s why this Dad Does What He Does—



I just did the dishes. Got dishpan hands.

But I did the dishes like a man.

I did a load of laundry.

Cleaned up my young son’s smelly a**

and stepped on Lego blocks

and matched and mated all his socks.

And I did it all just like a man.

He likes noodles. I made him some noodles.

Campbell’s Soup. Like my Moms used to do.

But I cooked his up like a man.

He cut his finger. Bled a bit.

My stomach flipped, but I ain’t show it.

Just cleaned him up, put on a band-aid,

gave him some go-gurt, sent him back to play.

And I smiled after I did it.

I don’t really know why, but, sometimes–

just watching him is enough and I forget

to remember to watch him like a man.

And then I can only see

how much I love this human being.

How much love he’ll need–

From me. His Dad. Tasked with teaching

him how, while learning myself, to be a man.