The Dad Nod

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The Nod. Men have been doing it for centuries, if not longer. It is a universal gesture that can be found in almost every corner of the world. Most often, the nod is a form of nonverbal communication simply expressing acknowledgement. And, occasionally, it might be followed with a short verbal saying, such as a nice "Hey" or "What's up?" At the other end of the spectrum, there is the threatening kind that's more of a punk "What are you looking at?" nod delivered with a piercing glare. Note: Nods can be difficult to read. Is it friendly, or not? A characteristic of the hostile kind is that it is usually never followed by a smile. If you receive one with a scowl, keep walking. But gestures, like culture, develop over time. And the times are changing, at least, for today's dad. When I take my daughter out for a stroll, guys who, before I had a child, would not otherwise even acknowledge me on the street, are taking the time to "talk" to me. It's like my cool factor exponentially went up. Why? I'm carrying, pushing or struggling with the same thing they are: a kid. Men folk from all walks of life are communicating via a new nod without saying a word: The Dad Nod. And the nod can have a multitude of meanings depending upon the context: You encounter a dad who's trying to comfort his crying, hysterical kid. You give him the "Good luck with that, dude" nod. A dad walks by me wearing the same trendy baby carrier with his kid also snoozing away in them. He gives me the "This is the best invention ever made" nod. Two different dads pushing strollers pass each other in front of a crowded sports bar full of drunk or soon-to-be drunk people. They give each other the nostalgic "Remember when that was our lives?" nod. But then, those less enthusiastic nods are always forgotten when I'll see another dad out and about, holding his kid in his arms, and looking at the child like the rest of the world doesn't exist. My wife and I are walking by with my girl in my arms, and I'm looking at my baby like she is the world. The other dad looks at me and, instantly, we deliver, "This is the most amazing thing I've ever experienced" nod. When my wife turns to me and asks, "What was that about?" I just say, "It's a dad thing."

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