So it happened again on Wednesday. It had been a month since the last time and foolishly I thought it had gone away, finally, I was an equal.
Of course I’m referring to that occasional situation that Dads will find themselves in, that sickening feeling you get in your stomach when you walk into a playgroup/park/soft-play area and it feels like every Mum in there is slowly craning their necks in your direction, spectacularly failing at not staring at you like you’re the reanimated corpse of Jimmy Saville on a visit to the local Children’s Ward. You know that feeling right?
There we were, my daughter and I, enjoying the sunshine, enjoying the park and enjoying the fact that at nearly 2 she has finally figured out how to drag herself up, slug-like, to the top of one of the 3 slides at our local park, which often descends into a toddlers version of a Hunger Games arena. There’s now at least 5 minutes of any tortuous visit in which I can park my oversized arse on the bench and pant for breath like a disgustingly fat dog in a sauna.
Into this idyllic scene, enter every parents worst nightmare, other peoples kids. Mine, of course, is fucking lovely. Sure she might treat me like a serving wench from Tudor times, dropping her cup on the floor before looking regally down on me from her high chair and declaring it, ‘Empty‘, but you know, she’s mine, and she’s fucking lovely. Other peoples are at best annoying. If you escape an encounter with a kid that’s not yours with only a mind splitting migraine then congratulations, you got off lightly.
So little Miles, or whatever twatty name this one had been burdened with, pushed my unsteady daughter out the way to barge down the slide where his Mother was eagerly coaching him back with a fucking tofu wrap or some such pretentious snack. Watching my daughter wobble, my lardy backside leapt into action with all the grace of Stephen Hawking performing Swan Lake, steadied my little Henrietta the VIII, pointed her back slide-wards and reassured her it was all OK, and, ‘some boys are just very eager to get down the slide‘. Those were genuinely my words, I play the game like we all do, I keep my true feelings for others rotten sprogs hidden deep inside.
On seeing me effortlessly swoop up, the fearful Mum grabbed the obnoxious Tarquin and shot me a look that suggested I had punched the little shit bag square in the balls, muttering at him, ‘Come on Monty. We should go and play on something else‘. In that short sentence she conveyed all the things that I know that the women we Dads see out and about are thinking. What does he think he’s doing? He hasn’t got a clue what he’s doing. Why does he look like a sweaty pervert?
So where am I going with this meandering diatribe, what is the point? Is it highlighting the shocking disparages a man faces in the female dominated world of seeing our kids through the early stages of their formative years, where I, a poor unfortunate white male with middle class aspirations and annoyingly over-liberal opinions faces adversity, insecurity and de-masculinization at the hands of nervy women who see me unfairly as a playground predator?
Don’t be a fucking idiot.
My convoluted point is that sometimes we need reminding, myself very much included, that men can be moaning, self centred, self important, privileged bastards who like to think that they’ve got it hard? That occasional feeling you get when you think (likely wrongly) that the Mum’s are judging you? Try having that every day of your life in every situation you’ve ever been in and being doggedly resigned to it. Knowing most people around you have normalised it so much that not only do they not speak up against it, they don’t even recognise that it’s happening.
It’s a cold world out there sometimes, woman up tough guys and we may just survive this.