Jack is a stay at home dad, father of three. He blogs about his experiences of being a parent and every so often we get a glimmer of the sexism he encounters as a father.
What is it?
I struggle to go to baby groups. I'm a little lazy and would rather play at home with the boy. I would rather go to the park, feed the ducks and generally let the boy run around causing mischief and mayhem in hope that he sleeps all night through. (I hate people who tell me their child has been sleeping through since they were 8 weeks old. You people are n**s.
When I say that my child wakes up in the night I don't need you to tell me how wonderful your child is. If you told me your dog had died I wouldn't say 'Oh well mine’s still alive and well!') I also tend to be the only man at these groups. That doesn't bother me much but seems to bother other people. I seem to have to force conversation on people. Don't get me wrong this isn't all people and I've actually made some good 'mum friends.' But on a whole people ignore me.
I'm having another baby. Child number 3. My eldest is 7. Sid is 20 months. Bit of an age gap and they play reasonable well. That's mainly to do with the fact Archie is very patient and kind. By that I mean he doesn't mind being smacked by the flailing arms and legs. He doesn't hold it against Sid if the occasional car flies across the room and 'accidentally' hits him.
Back to the point. With another baby on the way I need Sid to socialise with others and get used to other children playing with what he seems to think are 'his' toys. So I braved it to a group where I didn't know a single person.
I arrived to be greeted by a grey haired lady. She actually recognised me and I her. She was my old French teacher. She wasn't the friendliest of teachers (kind way of saying she was a mardy cow) but my class were hard work and I can understand (after working in education) why she was. Turns out she was a really lovely lady. Chat over I stepped into the room. I counted, there were 31 women and now me. People made eye contact and quickly looked away. Women feeding quickly covered up (now when my other half breast fed. Which was great and I'm all for. It's personal preference and what works for individual i think. But I think it's fair to say I couldn't care about her milky udders and chapped nipples while she was feeding, so I sure as hell don't care or even have time to look while chasing my boy - who has already stolen a toy from another child.) Women at the tea counter chatting while their angelic children play perfectly. Sid sorted and content I approach the tea counter (I always imagine it as a bar and I'm about to order a nice pint even though it's 10 in the morning!) The women part like the red sea and I am Moses (yes that complete BS story but I'm not going to judge.)
Tea made and Sid still playing, a young lady smiled. The smile you know means “come over here I'll be your friend”. So I approached. She was probably the youngest person in the room. A lovely person who I could have chatted to for a while had Sid not run over into the 'baby corner.' I decided that my half a cup of tea would have to wait and took him outside. Outside there were children who were a little bit older. But they were the perfect kids for Sid. They were climbing the fence. Jumping off the slide. Snot covered faces. We had found the perfect place to be. He had the best 30 mins and all jokes aside played really nicely. Then a lady appeared at the door. Snack time.
I went inside to see the 'perfect children' all sat down at the table awaiting their snacks. Carefully cut pieces of fruit. Squash or water for the kids. The lovely lady had saved me a seat. Perfect. I sat Sid down. Instantly his back arched stiff. The thing every child does (apart from, I'm sure, these angelic children in the room.) It's the most frustrating thing. You want them to do one thing, be it sit in their pushchair or in this case do what everyone else is doing and he won't! I finally manage to get him to sit. Fruit appears. The lady on the other side of me then spoke. I was shocked. At first I didn't realise she was talking to me. She had a confused look on her face. Her words took me by surprise. 'What is it?' I asked her to repeat herself. She pointed at Sid, pulling a stranger face, 'What is it?' I must have still looked a bit baffled. 'Is it a boy or girl?'
Now I'll paint the picture a little clearer.Sid is a boy. He has long scruffy hair, which I will continue to grow. He was wearing a red and yellow top with multicolour on the chest, and wearing female super hero leggings. Not really gender specific I suppose but I thought he looked pretty cool.
I said “Oh my child, he's a boy”.
“Oh well he looks like a girl”, she said.
“Ok”, I replied.
“Well what's his name?”
I said “This is Sidney”.
“Well then it's even harder to tell isn't it as that's a girl's name too”.
At this point Sid had had enough. He obviously didn't like this lady judging him. He picked up his plate and threw it. Fruit everywhere. I would have once been red faced but I've learnt that children do things they shouldn't and I no longer care what people think. I let him run and play while I tidied up. Eyes burning into me from every angle. I apologised and walked off to see my child. He was happy enough. I started to play with him. The lady running the group came over and said sorry but she was tidying up ready for song time. I looked at Sid. I couldn't take song time and I persuaded him he wouldn't like it. I said shall we say goodbye to the toys and go home. He lifted his hands up and just shouted BYE over and over. At this point I really couldn't give a s**t. I made eye contact with the lovely lady who was laughing. I waved. Said “Au Revoir” to my french teacher and ran for the exit!