Family Man in the Washington Post tells the story of a young father who wants to do the right thing by his 18-month-old son and his girlfriend’s two daughters by two other fathers. But 20-year-old Bobby Krotendorfer, a high school drop-out fired from his last job for skipping work and mouthing off, lacks maturity. His 22-year-old girlfriend’s bipolar but they’d rather spend their money on eating out than paying for her meds. Instead of getting his rotten teeth fixed, Bobby wants to buy an expensive gym for his little boy.
Bobby Krotendorfer plods through the garage and into the kitchen of the small, blue-gray Colonial in Southern Maryland. He drops a Snoopy diaper bag onto the kitchen table next to the GED prep book and a box of Hostess Twinkies. A lanky 20-year-old wearing baggy sweat pants, Bobby has just taken his girlfriend’s 5-year-old daughter, Faith, to school, then listened to his girlfriend fuss at him over the cellphone on his way back home. Seems she’s always yelling at him about something since she took a part-time waitressing job at the Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon, leaving him to watch the children.
“I’ve had it,” Bobby says. Exhaustion pulls at his pale, angular face, and his day has just started. There are baby clothes to fold, floors to mop and three kids to put down for naps: 18-month-old Robert, called “Junior,” his biological child with his girlfriend; 3-year-old Hope, whom his girlfriend had with another man; and Savannah, the toddler daughter of a couple whom he agreed to watch.
By the end of the story, Bobby’s got an $8-an-hour job at a car wash. He and his girlfriend plan to get married next year. They’ll continue to live with her father — until she gets bored and moves on to another guy or Bobby gets tired of her mood swings.
The economy makes it worse for unskilled young men trying to support a family. But Bobby’s bad decisions — goofing off in school, quitting at 16, trusting a girl with two kids to stay on the pill — have dug him in a deep hole. He’s not ready to be a family man.