Sep 30, 2008
I've put the interview with Stan the Marine Worm in a file for another time at the suggestion of Dan from the Northern Dads Group who was keen to hear from a Home Dad in the Wild who 'wasn't perfect'.
Without casting aspersions on anyone, I now offer you the transcript of the interveiw with Donald the Sand Goby. Hope you enjoy it.
Reservoir Dad: I did a bit of research on you guys. I was impressed, first of all, that you spent so much time building a nest, looking after the eggs and basically giving the women of your species a break. I mean that’s basically an example of what we humans call a ‘good dad’
Donald: Thanks, man. Appreciate it. The males in our species have a long history of being there for our offspring. We really enjoy being involved. We care.
RD: So, how do I get to this next question… I’ll just go ahead and say it. You can respond as you please.
Donald: So. You eat your babies…
Donald: What? No…
RD: You do so. Scientists have documentation that proves that you nibble at your own babies.
Donald: What’s a scientist?
RD: Umm, a person who studies things and records them and basically hangs around watching things happen.
Donald: Those huge guys in the white coats, holding the little glasses of colourful stuff?
Donald: Those bastards! They’re around so long you forget they’re there.
RD: Sure mate. That’s what the losers on Big Brother say about the cameras to excuse their bad behaviour.
Donald: Okay, I nibble at my babies a little. A bite here and there. What’s your point?
RD: Actually, it says here that you eat up to 40% of your brood most of the time and sometimes you even eat them all.
Donald: 40%? Sounds a bit of an over-estimation. Okay. Fine. I eat my babies. Big deal. Move on. Next question.
RD: Why would you eat your own children? I wouldn’t call that great parenting.
Donald: Oh you wouldn’t, wouldn’t you? Well what do you eat then?
RD: Whatever’s in the cupboard, or the fridge.
Donald: Well where’s my cupboard smartass? Where’s my fridge? You see where I’m going with this? I read your interview with the Penguin and the Emu. These poor bastards starve half to death looking after their brood. You know why? Because they have only a few eggs. Can you imagine the Penguin getting a little peckish and nibbling on his only baby? Doesn’t really lead to the continuation of a species does it? You humans only have a few children but you’ve got cupboards and fridges full of stuff. We all have ways of getting by mate.
RD: Our elderly next door neighbours had fourteen children.
Donald: Yeah? Well I’d be eating some of those.
RD: No. You see? This is where we differ. Even if they had twenty kids they still wouldn’t eat any of them.
Donald: Not even if they’re really, really hungry?
RD: Not even then, Donald.
Donald: But there’s so bloody many of them. They don’t shut up. They leave a huge mess and I’m stuck with them all the fricken time. Come on man. Give us a break. I don’t eat all of them.
RD: So you eat your babies to reduce noise and mess?
Donald: And stress. It can be hard work with a brood that large.
RD: True. I have a hard time with a brood the size of two. Sometimes I feel very frustrated. Never considered eating them though.
Donald: You’d have to be careful if you did, I’d imagine.
RD: Why’s that?
Donald: Well, once I start chewing down on the little whipper-snappers I get insatiable. Can’t stop at just one or two. Might happen to you as well. A little nibble on Archie and before you know it, Lewis is gone too.
RD: Did that with a block of chocolate once. Anyway, I don’t think you’re being very honest with me. While doing my research I came across a theory that the only reason you care for your brood is because it impresses the ladies.
Donald: Okay, okay. Truth is I don’t like looking after the kids at all. But the chicks dig it big time. Looking after kids is like my peacock's feather - a very big sexual ornament and a chick magnet. I mean, I'm a DILF mate. That’s how you score! That’s how you spread your seed! Chicks like sensitive guys. And there is nothing that screams sensitive more than being gay…
Donald: ... and second to that is a bloke looking after kids. You hang out with the kids, clean the house a little and then you’re mating with every Sand Goby in the sea. You’re producing so many eggs that you’d be stupid NOT to eat a few… only when the women aren’t looking of course.
RD: You’re starting to scare me a bit, Donald.
Donald: Get with it man. How many women have you mated with since you’ve had kids?
RD: It’s a bit different for us humans. We generally end up paring with one person.
Donald: For how long?
RD: For ever.
Donald: For Ever!? And you’re getting stuck into me for eating babies?
RD: We actually like it mate. It has benefits.
Donald: Now, you’re starting to scare me, RD.
RD: So, to sum it up - Despite your attempt to convince me that you love your children, you actually only look after your brood and tend to the nest to impress chicks and mate with them?
Donald: That just about covers it.
RD: Thanks for you time.
Donald: No worries RD. By the way, where are your kids today?
RD: Just move on Donald. Don't let the door hit you in the ass.
Donald: Pffft. Those scientist bastards are good.
RD: Wouldn’t be able to blog without them.
Sep 29, 2008
Reservoir Mum tried to turn me to the positives - Geelong's winning record over the past two years, and of course, the Premiership last year I never thought I'd see the Cats deliver.
My old man talked about the future - the fact that we will have a pretty good side for several seasons to come and may even get another tilt at a flag.
Two of my best mates suggested that I just - get - over - it.
Well, there is a chance that I'll get over it one day but it's not going to be anytime soon. Anyway, I wasn't after these kinds of logical grown-up words.
So when I got home yesterday I put all the well intended advice behind me and sought some solace with a person whose emotional development was more fitting to my mood. The young Archie.
We sat in front of a newspaper together and opened to the team photos of that horrid grand final. The glorius blue and white hoops and the much uglier brown and yellow stripes.
"Now, Archie," I said. "Which colors look like they belong to to the inside of a toilet?"
He tilted his head to the side and then looked at me with a blank expression.
I gave it a moment's thought and then put it a different way. "Which jumper looks like poo and wee?"
Archie laughed and pointed to Hawthorn.
"Good boy," I said, as I gave him a big daggy Daddy hug.
Archie laughed some more and I smiled as much as I was able.
"They look like poo and wee," he said again.
"Yes they do mate," I said closing the paper and saying goodbye to another season. "They look exactly like poo and wee."
Sep 23, 2008
There’s no way in hell my kids are barracking for any team other than Geelong Cats.
Yeah. That’s right.
I agree with most of the advice in the above paragraph. Might surprise you then to know that I snuck away and hid Lewis’s soccer ball in the garage when he started to show more interest in it than the glorious Sherrin. Also might surprise you that I spent an hour convincing Archie that he was mistaken when he said he liked the Collingwood Magpies better then The Geelong Cats. I was relentless. And successful. I am happy to report that Archie now knows the Geelong team song and Lewis walks around with a toddler-sized Sherrin under his arm (Geelong colors of course).
Yesterday, Archie, without prompting, said, “Daddy, I like the Cats. I don’t like the Blues.”
That’s tear provoking stuff right there because I know I have molded this young boy into a Geelong Cats-addicted AFL junkie just like me, just like his Pa and just like his late Great-Grandfather. Yep, I worked at it, I steared him away from forming his own opinion. I gave this boy no choice. And I am one happy Daddy.
Archie has now been added to a family history that includes four generations of Geelong supporters and over 90 years of history. Now to work on Lewis. Very soon, probably even next year, three generations of my family will be going to Geelong games together and screaming our guts out. You can’t buy that sort of life-long bonding material.
There are some things, specific to family culture, which overrule all those otherwise solid parenting guidelines. When they are much older I will show Archie and Lewis this rant and they will love me for it. Just like I love my old man for forcing me down this path many years ago. It set up years of Saturday afternoons together. Years of phone calls and visits to discuss ins and outs, injuries, team form, draft choices, disappointments for past seasons and hopes for upcoming seasons.
My Dad was born in 1951 the year the Cats won the first of back-to-back flags. He was clearly too young to remember it. I like to imagine my Grandfather listening to the radio, hanging on every minute of the game. He would have loved it.
Last year the mighty Cats won their first flag in 44 years. Dad and I witnessed our first Geelong Premiership together. This weekend the Cats are up for their second tilt at back-to-back flags. It’s an emotional week. Dad and I will be riding every minute desperate to see the Premiership cup in the hands of Captain Tom Harley and Coach Mark Thompson at the end of the game. We will party long and hard and I’ll have some great stories for Archie and Lewis to pass on to my grandkids. I love the fact that I had no choice in being a Geelong supporter. I had been at my first day of primary school and was mixing with a lot of wayward Corio kids, a few of who were filling my head with some crazy ideas.
When Dad came home from work I ran up to him and said, ‘Dad, I’m barracking for the Bombers now because they Bomb ‘em’’. A very cute, child-like thing to say.
Dad dropped his bag, knelt down, looked me in the eye and said, ‘You barrack for The Cats, mate, or you're moving out.’
That’s some pretty special parenting right there.
Go Cats! Back to Back flags 2007/2008.
Sep 12, 2008
Here’s the transcript of the interview with Cecil the Emu which unfortunately ended in disagreement before any actual discussion on child-rearing could be entered into.
Home Dads in The Wild will next feature Stan the Marine Worm which I promise will be a much more informative article
Reservoir Dad: Welcome Cecil. I’m really looking forward to getting to the specifics of your approach to child-rearing and the sharing of home duties but I’m really… amazed at some other facts that I’ve come across while researching for this interview. Do you mind if I satisfy my own curiosity before we get to home-dadding specifically?
Cecil: Not at all. This is an exercise in getting to know other species and I’m all for it.
RD: Great. Okay. Now, reading from Wikipedia, once the male Emu begins to incubate the eggs they don’t “eat, drink or defecate” for nearly two months...
RD: How the hell do you do that?
Cecil: You stop eating the rest takes care of itself.
RD: Yeah, but why? I mean, can’t someone bring you some food?
Cecil: We don't really think about our own welfare at that stage. Making sure the eggs are well cared for is the most important thing a male Emu will ever do.
RD: But can't you just have a little food? Something small occasionally? I mean, what if I come past and drop a few live but legless grasshoppers on the ground or something.
Cecil: Nope. Wouldn't be interested.
RD: Some Saltbush catepillars?
RD: How about some ladybirds? Come on, you're telling me you'd sit there for a month and not eat a handul of ladybirds if I stuck them right under your beak?
Cecil: I’m not interested in food at that time, okay? We’re not like you humans. We don’t watch giant plasmas while we throw a ball to the kids. We like to be present, really present, the entire time we're with the kids.
RD: But you’re just sitting there, man. You could easily nibble on something. I'm worried you guys don't look after yourself. And if you can't look after yourself how can you look after your kids? Seriously?
Cecil: We don’t just sit there.
RD: What else do you do?
Cecil: Well, we have to stand up and turn the eggs.
RD: How often?
Cecil: Ten times a day sometimes.
RD: Hmmm. Still seems like a lot of downtime. You’re just keeping the eggs warm, aren't you? You’re like a giant electric blanket. Couldn’t you get your partner to sit on the eggs for a while, so you can get out and do something?
Cecil: Look, don’t go there…
RD: Oh yes, I see. “…infidelity is the norm for Emus, despite the initial pair-bond: once the male starts brooding, the female mates with other males…” That’s gotta hurt.
Cecil: Stings a bit.
RD: Here’s a tissue. So that’s why males sit on the eggs for two months and don’t eat - they’re depressed.
Cecil: Pretty much.
RD: Still seems strange to me though. I mean, I’ve been depressed before – four times when The Cats lost four Grand Finals, and once when I dreamt I won Tattslotto but then woke up and realised it was just a dream – but, shit man, I still defecated.
Cecil: Yeah, well that’s you, RD. Everyone’s different. Can't you see that? When I'm depressed, I don't defecate. I just don't.
RD: Okay okay. Sorry mate.
Cecil: ‘salright. Anyway, it’s all worth it when you first see their cute little faces poking out of the eggs.
RD: Um, sounds like it could be the hormones talking… I don’t want to add to the misery but have you had a close look at an emu face?
Reservoir Dad: Haha. You looked like Kramer then. “Jerry, when are you going to come see the baby!” haha
Cecil: You’re very harsh. I’m starting to feel a bit depressed already and we’re not even in breeding season yet. I mean, take away a faithful missus and some gorgeous kids and what is there?
RD: Two words, mate - Massive Plasma.
RD: Moving on. I interviewed an Emperor Penguin for Home Dads in the Wild # 1. He seemed to have an issue with his small arms. I notice that you also have very small arms, in comparison to your size. Do you have difficulty expressing your affection for your young ones, considering your inability to hug?
Cecil: We have some serious arm envy, don’t worry about that. But what we lack in arm we definitely make up for in size. So if I was you I’d be a bit more careful with the questions.
RD: What do you mean?
Cecil: I’m six foot five. How tall are you?
RD: About six foot.
Cecil: There you go…
RD: Yeah, but you’re all legs and neck. Take them out of the picture and you’re just a giant pom-pom.
Cecil: Careful buddy. It’s mating season soon. And in mating season our testosterone levels surge and our testicles double in size. Put that in your Wikipedia and smoke it.
RD: OOHH. Watch out! The giant pom-pom has balls.
Cecil: That’s it. This interview is over.
RD: Thanks for your time Cecil.
Cecil: And I’ll be telling my mates Jeff the Pouched Frog and Darryl the Spotted Sandpiper to think twice before agreeing to an interview.
RD: I don’t like threats. Why don’t you use your massive legs to get the hell out of here?
Cecil: We’re a minority group buddy! We should be banding together not tearing shreds of each other. Why can’t home Dads just get along? Why can't we all just get along?
Sep 9, 2008
Sep 7, 2008
I love it so much that I won’t even drink beer out of it. I’ll put it on the shelf and look at it every day. I didn’t even care that he showed me this present four days ago, as soon as I picked him up from Kinder, just so that he could eat the chocolates himself.
Nope, I love that little critter and I love being his Dad.
Lewis woke me up at 5am for Father’s day. He’s got the greatest little toothy grin and his warm face on my neck in the mornings is just as good as Archie’s little face on a stubby holder. (Somehow that doesn’t sound as sweet as I thought it would, but you get my drift.) If I could I’d put Lewis’s warm little face right next to the stubby holder on the shelf and look at it every day... um, I’ll move on.
This morning, I got to read the sport section of two newspapers without interruption (and without pretending that I needed to go to the toilet for thirty minutes) while I ate a shockingly easy-to-prepare breakfast. Check this out –
You try and tell me I’m not living large.
So what else do I have in store for Father’s day, loving my kids as much as I do, finding myself at this stage in my life so reliant on my family for my own happiness? An outing to the Zoo? A trip to the Aquarium? An hour or two at the Collingwood Children’s Farm?
Hang on. It’s Father’s Day, isn't it. Not kids day. (A quote from the Great Book of Dad Quotes, which my Dad referred to often - “It’s kids day everyday.”) So, I’m going to the Geelong St Kilda final at the MCG with a few mates. I’m going to have a few drinks and come back a bit tipsy. Yep, give me a kiss on the cheek kiddos. Next time I see you, you’ll be in PJ’s and all I’ll have to do for the whole day is tuck you in and sing you to sleep with a few renditions of the Geelong theme song.
I want to formally apologise to my parents for thinking that making you breakfast and cleaning my room was all you needed for Mother’s and Father’s Day. I should have opened the door, kicked you out and told you to have an entire day of doing something self-indulgent. (Dad, for you that would have been fishing and sipping some port-spiked coffee. Mum, for you that would have been reading self-help books and chanting positive affirmations or starting a new hobby –like raising geese, or building a water feature out of colored dog-hairs or completing a Masters Degree in Psychology.)
Sep 4, 2008
Getting motivated for grocery day takes a bit of doing. Two kids, shopping trolleys, rows and rows of biscuits, cakes and lollies. We all know the drill. It’s hard work. Throw in a couple of well meaning words from complete strangers like “Don’t worry, you’ll be home with Mummy soon kids” or “Hey, spending some time with Daddy are we?” and my gut starts firing like a box of firecrackers in a burning barn.
But shortly after waking, on this particular grocery day, I recieved some bad news from afar that acted like a good slap in the face and made me reflect on how good I've got it. I made a quick mental list of personal great things
- Reservoir Mum
- Two great kids
- A large extended family (all healthy. Well, the live ones anyway...)
- A house big enough for my whole family (and a Plasma)
- 2007 Geelong Premiership (with possibly 2008 Geelong Premiership to follow)
Bottom line is - I reasoned to myself - I've got it good.
The shopping wasn’t really so bad in the end. We got a park right out front. Kids were satisfied and quiet with a Muesli Bar each. I gave a homeless guy $1.50 and that made me feel pretty decent. When we emerged from ALDI the sun was shining, the birds were singing and the homeless man’s dog was licking my trouser leg. I gave him a Cheese Cracker and felt pretty decent about that as well.
Driving home I was feeling nostalgic. Boys needed to nap and I couldn’t be stuffed with the sleep hassles back home, so I pulled into Macdonald’s, bought a cappuccino, slipped my Dr Hook CD into the player, pumped it up to a level that kept the kids quiet but sleepy and drove around for half an hour until they dozed off.
Searching again for that feeling of decency I stopped, at one point, to let an elderly couple cross the road. Their gaze lingered on me as they hobbled past on their bone-density-depleted legs. They could see me singing. They could hear Dr Hook's gravelly vocals and they knew I had it good.
(Don't get me wrong, I'm under no illusions that I am an outrageously decent guy. I was doing some environmentally unfriendly, self-indulgent things – things that might even get this blog torn down – like driving around aimlessly and wasting fuel, buying stuff from MacDonald’s and subjecting the vulnerable brains of my young children to [what some people claim are] the cheesiest, most puerile lyrics in the history of music but I was feeling so damn good I couldn't stop, damn it.)
I got more money
Than a horse has hairs
Because my rich old Uncle died
And answered all my prayers
But having all this money
Is going to bring me down
If you ain't with me honey (Reservoir Mum)
To help me spread it around.
Man, I think that’s gold. And I don’t care who knows it. Now, for that song to really be relevant to me, we'll have to replace the word money, with the word riches (with riches referring to children, health, time, love etc - in other words, anything other than money or actual riches).
I drove past a few chicks at a bus stop. I looked through the open car window and sang Sharing The Night Together, as though I’d written the lyrics myself, just for them. They glared back at me wide-eyed as I drove past and I knew what they were thinking – “There goes a home Dad, oozing Dr Hook coolness, drinking coffee, rocking his children. Oh yeah, all right…”
I challenge you to try listening to that song in a warm car, buffeted gently from side to side, rolling down the streets of Reservoir with scenery like this –
enough groceries in the boot to feed your entire family for a week, enough time on your hands to let old couples hobble across the road, enough money to hand out hundreds of cents and a couple of cheese crackers to the homeless, sipping on a large double shot cappuccino, being oggled by young chicks who think you're cool, with two of the most important people in your life dozing in the backseat behind you while your wife works her arse off in one of the dozen different offices she works at around the city to bring home a shit-load of bacon.
I challenge you to do that and avoid the overwhelming sense of joy that takes you right to the verge of tears.
I’ll say it again. I’ve got it good.
I have some advice for all you people out there doing it a lot harder than I am (because, lets face it, it's easy to hand out advice when you've got it this good). In the immortal words of the greatest band ever, Dr. Hook -
Just pick your heart up off the floor
And try, try again...
This is a blog for what I call “real dads” — the kind that love to play with their kids and don’t mind changing stinky diapers. It’s for the kind of father who’s heart breaks because he’s at work all day instead of being home raising his children. Not every dad is a real dad, and that’s OK. But if you’ve sought out this blog, then you probably are.
While you're there check out Daddy Brain's series of interviews with author Mark Brady.
Mark’s insight on how the brain of a child is physically damaged by emotional abuse, yelling and hitting is amazing. We also discuss parental exhaustion/stress and how to help our kids develop “secure attachment.”
Sep 3, 2008
Ever since Lewis discovered that the neat little toilet roll hanging next to the toilet can turn into a massive paper snake that stretches as far around the house as he’s willing to pull it, I’ve had to publicly chastise him (in front of his brother) and manually roll up toilet rolls at least a dozen times.
Well, I am over it. I've tried to be vigilant in keeping the toilet rolls away from him but he always manages to steal the opportunity to unravel when I am least expecting it. He’s addicted to unravelling and I have to accept that and do my best to help him.
So from now on, when a new toilet roll is needed, I will unravel it myself and heap it at the foot of the toilet bowl.(We tried ridding the entire house of toilet paper but that proved to be even more unpleasant than dealing with Lewis’s addiction.)
To family and guests who drop by I extend apologies in advance. I will do my best to leave an end visible at all times but if you have trouble feel free to tear from the middle of the pile.
When we are visiting I will contact you in advance. If you could unravel your toilet paper rolls beforehand it would be much appreciated. Unfortunately, until Lewis’s addiction is curtailed, we will have to avoid all private and public places with properly organised toilet rolls. The risks are just too great. And Lewis’s future is too important to risk.
This addiction has affected our family enough.
Sep 2, 2008
Trying to find time to express your creative talents when you are raising children is very tough wether you're a stay-at-home-Dad or Mum, as this book testifies: Divided Heart: Art and Motherhood. That's why my sensitive artist's heart has been broken by The Nanny Fairy's latest cleaning frenzy.
Every now and then, after Nanny and Gramps come around for babysitting, I find something has been cleaned, or folded, or wiped down, or knocked down, rebuilt and spraypainted. And I really appreciate the efforts - most of the time.
This morning I stood staring at the inside of the microwave for a full minute before I realised that my first real attempt at abstract art - an exercise that has taken a good month of effort, spaghetti sauce, egg, roast fat, cream cheese and countless other explosive food elements - had been wiped clean out of existence.
It had taken me a long time to refine the process of overheating different foodstuffs to splash just the right amount of color around the microwave’s interior. Not to mention bowl and plate placement to ensure a particular shape of splatter. Yep, it was the hard gruelling slog that only a true leather-arsed artist can appreciate.
Sure, I am no Jackson Pollock, but there was heart and there was soul in that piece of work. And now it’s gone like a Sand Mandala in the wind. I guess I should be more Buddhist about it.
Oh well, nothing a true artist like me can do except stay dedicated and strong. I have already re-undercoated the interior with two bowls of Weetbix. Several different high fat, over-sauced dishes will start my work afresh and keep me on track to realise my artistic dream – the opening of my own Gallery displaying a growing collection of Microwave Art.
THE ART HATER
P.S. Thanks Nanny.
Aug 28, 2008
Broadcasting Controversy Surrounds Upcoming NDG Leaping Contest
Looking forward to the upcoming Leaping from the Doorstep to the Shrubbery Contest. Can The Dads snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and put The Kids back where they belong??
In breaking news, Channel 7 have announced that they have exclusive screening rights to the world event, and are committed to showing live, uninterrupted coverage of the whole competition.
Well, maybe not live, but delayed by only a matter of a few minutes. Or maybe to be shown 'coming up next' at some ill-defined point in the next few hours. Or possibly, the event will be 'still to come', sometime within the next five years. And maybe not the whole competition, but 'key moments' of the final stages. Or it could be a super slow-mo collage of Leaps from Clever Angles (maybe they'll attach a camera to a real-life competitor’s shoe!).
Channel 7 feel that this studied approach will bring out the true spirit and passion of Competitive Leaping, rather than showing anything so boring or time consuming as the whole sequence of actual events as they unfold.
Reservoir Dad’s Foreign Correspondent, Dan.
Opening Ceremony Leak Stirs Critics
Of course, the opening ceremony for this event will be a multi-million dollar spectacle, choreographed by the local communist party and performed by thousands of ultra-trained elite soldiery who may well be more athletic than the athletes themselves.
The voices of the dads will be provided by less cute dads, who will be concealed somewhere in the back yard and provide dubbed dialogue by microphone.
Internet use will be restricted during the duration, and any children who choose to complain during the event will be required to submit an application to protest in one of the appointed "protest parks", and then be arrested and sent to the provinces for "re-education".
At the end of the balcony jumping, David Beckham (or if David is not available due to contract restrictions, Dan’s son Mikey) will kick a football into the adoring throng from the top of an unfolding double-decker bus. Or Dan's Magna.
An appointed dad will declare the event "The best rose bed jumping ever!". The ceremonial cigarette lighter will then be extinguished before the athletes do a lap of honour before returning to their own houses for a ticker tape parade, (or a nap, depending on their own proclivities).
The Dalai Lama will not be invited.
Chief Sports Writer, Jack.
I can tell you as an insider that there were some sore Dads limping around after the last competition. In the build up to this week's game weights have been lifted, roads have been run, bikes have been ridden and body hair has been waxed and stored for later use.
Rumours suggesting that several Dad’s have been implicated in a plot to spike The Kids pre-game drinks with Phenergon are completely unfounded.
Stay tuned early next week for a comprehensive report on the games.
Aug 27, 2008
Did that just happen? Was that a dream? How did I lose three kilos and why are there no clean sheets in the house? Why are there so many buckets in the lounge room? Did I really see a vulture perched on the plasma? Desert birds circling overhead?
It was tough. I’ve heard all the stories about the horrors of an illness hitting the entire family but this is the first time it’s happened to us. I sincerely hope that this is the last time I ever post about this horrid illness.
I was pretty confident of avoiding the gastro bug when Lewis first started showing symptoms. Then it moved on to Reservoir Mum and Archie but, hey, I was washing my hands all the time, spraying the toilet seat with disinfectant, only breathing through my nose and wearing an AFL approved wet-weather poncho. I thought I had it covered.
Silly, sad, delusional Reservoir Dad…
I’m convinced now that children have the ability to simply look in your direction and subliminally sicken you. If I was a germ looking to populate my community I’d build my first commune in the body of a toddler and then take over the world.
Anyway, based on my first full family illness I have come up with 5 survival tips.
1. Send the kids to the grandparents.
Jesus, if you have this option, stop reading. Get the kids there ASAP. Sure you might be passing on a potentially serious illness but they can afford to lie around all day vomiting. What else have retirees got to do? Just tell them that they just might possibly laugh about it later. Plus, if they survive, they’ll have a great story to tell their… great grandchildren one day.
2. Try not to change too many nappies.
When you’re as ill as we were this past week, even the smell of lavender in a freshly cleaned pillow case can get your stomach churning. So a dirty nappy? Yikes. I tried plugging my nose, holding my breath, changing Lewis from afar with very long tongs, all to no avail.
My suggestion? Disposable nappies are pretty sturdy these days. Stick a well-fitting one on first. Then put a larger one over the top. Finally, cover your child in Cling Wrap from the knees to the bellybutton and change him once a day.
(Generally poo is not such a big issue for me but, jeez, we can put men on the moon, map the genetic code, clone a fricken sheep but still haven’t come up with a cure for the common baby crap.
Here are some suggestions for all you scientists out there. How about a pill that evaporates human waste inside the gut? A nappy that reaches a certain weight before falling off and dissolving? Genetically modified shitless babies… Now there’s a Nobel Prize winner for you.)
3. Try not to waste any energy talking to your spouse.
I only say this because there really is no point. The exhaustion that accompanies gastro is so complete and overwhelming that it short circuits the brain and makes complete sentences impossible.
Somewhere in the nightmare that was our past week I remember the odd crazied mumbling. There were two standouts. We had been mindlessly watching an Olympic Games baseball match. Reservoir mum came up with this gem: “Hey look, the boases are laded.” And while trying to come up with an easy way to get the kids dinner without getting off the couch I suggested “Hiring a Pizza.” Yeah, an over-nighter or a weekly?
4. Cry pathetically
Like most men I abhor crying in public. So make sure you are indoors with only family members present. It’s amazing how sobbing miserably can give you that tiny bit of extra energy to get things done. This is how I managed to get off the lounge room floor, change the boy’s beds and get the spew-ridden sheets into the washing machine.
Feel free to throw in some pathetic mumbling as you stumble about. Choose from:
• This can’t be happening. This - Can’t - Be - Happening!”
• I’m scared of dyin’ Ma…
• I can’t feel my legs! (The much loved classic)
5. Spew and Learn
Kids hate to spew as much as we do. Inevitably, helping your child through the experience is going to bring you back to ChuckLand so do what I did and spew first. Then try to instill a sense of appreciation for life in your child by teaching them that things are never as bad as they seem. After putting my fingers down my throat and spending two minutes in an eye-bulging, gut-burning vomit that left me only a few blips of blood pressure away from a stroke, I turned casually to Archie and said, ‘Now, some species feed their children like this... (Hey it’s a fact. Isn’t that right Leroy?)
After reading over these points I realize they are probably not that helpful, apart from Tip 1. It’s been a while since I’ve had a full meal though so don’t be too critical. I think it’s finally time to hire that Pizza. I heard there’s a new thriller out with Angelina Jolie. Sounds tasty.
Aug 19, 2008
Interview with Leroy The Emperor Penguin
RD: G'day Leroy. Thanks for your time first of all.
Leroy: No worries. Little Roy just headed out to the open sea. Bit of time on our hands now.
RD: For human families today, finding a balance between work, rest and recreation is a difficult task. You Emperor Penguins seem to have come up with a well-structured and balanced routine.
Leroy: We like to think so. The missus does the hard work, first of all, forming and laying the egg. Not much I can do to help there except talk to her, huddle a bit and share a bit of warmth. Once she pops the egg it’s my turn. She heads out for a few months of feeding and I get to work, nesting the egg in my feet.
RD: Why in your feet?
Leroy: Well I’m not going to hold it for two months with these floppy little arms am I? Who’s the smartarse with the fingers around here?
RD: Apologies. Do you have any advice for human parents who are looking to share child-rearing, or exchange roles all together?
Leroy: Far be it from me to suggest how humans should structure their lives but it does seem strange to palm off most of the child-rearing to one person. We consider this to be the most important job there is. A very difficult one best undertaken in pairs.
RD: I agree. It's very difficult for humans these days though. There just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day, you have to balance family with career and money is so crucial...
Leroy: I don't get money. I mean I’ve heard of it, but from what I see you guys tend to create a disproportionate need for money. Take me and my partner for example. I look after the egg while she eats for a few months. When the egg hatches she comes back and I head out for a couple of weeks of eating. Fair enough you have to buy food but how much do you need to eat?
RD: It's not just for food though. We've reached a point in our evolution where there as so many cool things to buy. Big houses, lots of cars, latest model mobile phones, plasma televisions…
Leroy: Plasma whaty... ?
RD: Televisions. Massive ones. You get to watch all types of things on them - sport, news, movies, documentaries. There’re even some good shows about you guys. You should get one.
Leroy: Yeah? Maybe... have to talk to the missus.
RD: Anyway, back to the child-rearing. I'm a home dad now. This is a relatively new thing in our society – I mean post agriculture, before that whole families raised kids – but what do you see as the benefits of dads rearing kids?
Leroy: Mate, I can't see any other way to do it. My wife is totally stuffed after forming and laying the egg. All she wants to do is eat. Wouldn't be fair if I told her to sit there for another 64 days while I played around. It's just about sharing the load I reckon. Look after each other, share in the experience. One of the greatest things, and something you humans seem to be missing, is that both Penguin parents have an understanding of how difficult… and rewarding… child rearing can be. There seems to be too much emphasis placed on the human partner who goes out to eat, come back and regurgitate, whereas we have a deep understanding that both roles are equally as important to the functioning of a healthy and happy family.
RD: Well said. The role of child-rearing/home maintenance is undervalued in our society.
Leroy: Yep. It’s just a crazy backward way of thinking.
RD: So you don’t eat anything while you are nesting for 64 days?
Leroy: Me? No. He-he. I gotta focus. Eating would be very selfish.
RD: So you eat shellfish...
Leroy: What? No, I don't eat at all. I just told you...
RD: Don't you get hungry?
Leroy: Shit yeah. Lose about twenty kilograms. But I get to go out for a few weeks after and do nothing but eat. Anyway, it's like I was saying, humans have their priorities screwed up. The child should always come first.
Leroy: So how do you organise the workload after your two weeks of eating?
Leroy: Back to about 50/50. I forage and regurgitate for the young-un. Then the missus heads out and does the same. We like to keep it as balanced as possible. I mean, they’re not young forever are they. Six months and their waddling off to feed themselves.
RD: It does pass quickly, yes. One last question. While nesting the egg you huddle together with hundreds of other males. Doesn’t that raise a few eyebrows?
Leroy: Here we go again. Just because I take on some home duties and look after the baby doesn’t mean I’m not as masculine as the next guy.
RD: Hey, no offence. Just curious as to whether Emperor Penguins swing both ways…
Leroy: Its fricken cold out there. Alright? You try standing in the Antarctic for 64 days. I guarantee you’ll be hugging any male who walks by.
RD: Maybe if they were wearing a little penguin suit…
Leroy: Hehe. Get out of here.
RD: Thanks for your time.
Aug 13, 2008
Truth is, it’s my own inexperience that’s the problem. I’ve only had two opportunities to respond to “I don’t love you” before this. Once when I was in early high school after I delivered a love note to my first true love that started “You are my honey, my Vegemite…”. The second time was at the end of a relationship in my late teens. At that age I was at a point where a weekend with the mates and a lot of beer was the easy fix for hurt feelings.
Anyway, here’s the transcript -
Archie: Daddy, I want to see Mummy.
Reservoir Dad: Yeah, mate. Mummy will be home soon.
Archie: I want to see Mummy now.
Reservoir Dad: Soon mate. How about you come here and help me and Lewis make the train set?
Archie: No, I don’t love you anymore.
Reservoir Dad: Yeah? But… yes you do… what?
I can hear what everyone’s saying - C’mon Reservoir Dad, it was only the rabbity gibbering of a boundary-pushing three year old, you’re much stronger than that.
You’re right of course, but I’d been trying to unpack the shopping for about an hour, Lewis’s nose was chunking out snot like a candy funnel at Charlie’s Chocolate Factory, there was dog-poo under the swing outside which I was determined to clean up before the kids got out there, it was getting on to 2PM and I hadn’t even taken the roast out for defrosting and Dr Drowser was sitting beside me flicking the end of a hypodermic needle. It was my time to crack. It was just my time…
Anyway, I recovered via the usual means. When Reservoir Mum got home I went and chopped some wood, lifted some weights and tore a hole in my favorite t-shirt. Feelings of superiority restored I settled down later that evening to try to come up with some appropriate comebacks for the future.
Here’s some I have come up with so far:
Evil, Vindictive Reservoir Dad:
- Yeah, well I don’t love you either. (Seems a little too easy)
- Mummy’s just called me. She’s never coming back. (Maybe a tad too evil.)
- Is that right? You don’t love me? Now I don’t feel so bad about backing over your puppy. (This one seems to be just about right)
Reservoir Dad reading from the Great Book of Dad Quotes:
- While you’re living under my roof, and eating my food, you WILL love me. What you do after that is up to you.”
- I’ll turn this damn car around… (oh hang on, wrong scenario).
- Kids should be seen and not… (no, Great Book of Dad Quotes is falling short on this one)
Manipulative Reservoir Dad:
-How can you say that? After all I’ve done for you? Wiped your bum. Got up to you in the middle of the night. Sung Incy-Wincy Spider in a crowded shopping centre. Watched The Wiggles 4,076 times…. tell me you love me or I’m torching the DVD player.
-Hey, I’ve got a Chuppa-Chup. What did you say again?
-Pretending to cry. (This is my favorite option. The idea is to put on a real show I reckon. Run from the room bawling with your hands over your face. Run into a wall and fall down holding your leg. Scream in pain. It’s a good idea to have a sauce pill to bite because a bleeding parent really can bring the performance home to the child.)
That’s all I could come up with. I still feel like I’ve got some work to do. ‘I don’t love you Daddy’ is pretty hard to top and kids know it. So, if you’ve got any better ideas send them through to the comments section. Us Dad’s (and Mum’s) have to unite against the children or they will break us down and take over the world.
Aug 11, 2008
Ayup all. My name is Dan, father of Liam (11) and Mikey (4). I became primary carer/stay home dad/house-slave when Mikey was 5 months old, and ‘by jiminy’ how long ago does that seem?
Me and Mikey joined the Northern Dads Playgroup when he was about 8 months I think. It’s a relaxed affair, with the emphasis on stress minimisation. e.g. last week – ‘Uh-oh, has Josie just been sick? Oh no, it’s all right, she’s just been eating sand’. Last week I also lost my marbles (ha ha!); hope Josie didn't eat them too!
Thanks Reservoir Dad for the invite. There’s so many things to say about being at home with kids, and what a great forum for saying them. I've put this post in two parts – perplexed/frustrated and joyful/contemplative, cos they don’t seem to slot together too well. So……..
Some things that have perplexed/frustrated me as a stay-at-home Dad. I’ve always liked the saying ‘credit where it’s due’ and while you’re not looking for any medals as a primary carer, not being given some credit for the job really irks. You do the hard work day in day out, getting up in the night, making the meals, slogging through the housework, scooping up the ‘huey greens’ and generally taking care of baby/s. You know ‘your baby’ as well as anyone but even so, it will still be assumed by many you meet day to day, that Mum is really the one ‘in charge‘.
Sometimes this is really blatant, especially with services that are used to dealing primarily with mothers. For example I made all the arrangements when Mikey was younger to check out the Pre-School Dentist, the Sleep-Settling Centre (they were good btw) and the Kinder rego. Each time, despite me having made all the phone calls, filled in the forms and even visited the places, the correspondence was sent out addressed only to my partner. Not only was I not acknowledged as primary carer, I wasn’t even acknowledged as a parent!
Often it’s more subtle though, and I often feel I am treated like an ‘amateur’ by many people (health professionals, doctors, pharmacists, nurses, shop staff); as if if I was just ‘filling in’ until the full time professional was back on the job. You can tell stay-at-home-Dads – especially with babies in their first year – are still a big deal for many people, because they ask questions they would never ask of a mother, and pass comments they wouldn't dare say to a Mum. For example;
- “babysitting today are we?” (asked on many occasions by people in the street, at the shops etc. No, I’m his Dad stupid!)
- “and do you do everything in the house” (translation: so do you do the cooking, washing, clean the toilet, get the groceries as well as look after the kids??)
- while having a coffee with baby in the pram….“good of you to be looking after him while Mum does the groceries” (no, Mum’s not doing the groceries, she’s not even in the shopping centre.)
- (at the clothes shop)……“well done, fancy a man buying clothes for his kids. Most men who buy clothes in here have to bring them back cos they don’t know the right size”. (That would be the Dads who can’t read the labels then.)
- at the ice cream parlor…..“Better take a serviette love. Your wife will kill you if he gets all mucky” (thanks, won’t need to use the wipes I carry round everywhere then!)
- at the chemist… “oh, got your day off today eh?” (er, no)
- the fruit and veg shop….“Ahh, day with Daddy today eh? Have a lovely day!” (see above)
These attitudes will change over time, I guess, as more and more fathers take up the role. In the meantime, it’s good to ‘vent’ every so often!
Things that have made me joyful/contemplative…
One of the things about having watched our older child in his progression through toddlerdom, to primary school, and now approaching high school is that I’ve been conscious of how the really cute stuff of the pre-school years fades over time (to be replaced by equally moving, but slightly different, stuff). So I’ve been trying to treasure every innocent moment with our youngest. Some of my recent favourites:
- Mikey wanted to take Panda, Lion and Giraffe along to swimming lesson last Friday, and all three fluffy animals seemed happy to go along with this. I managed to convince Mikey that they shouldn’t go in the water cos none of them could swim. So there they sat, propped on a chair by the poolside, Lion leaning on Panda, leaning on Giraffe (who was missing the action cos he was looking straight down. Maybe it was the lack of vertebrae in his neck). Halfway through the lesson while I was looking the other way one of the Mums turned to me, smiling, and told me Mikey had managed to sneak in a wave to his teddies as he swam by. Beautiful.
- We were choosing some gumboots for a trip to the snow a few weeks ago. Mikey decided that the pink ones with Bratz Girls on the side were ‘awesome’ and he proudly wore them all day (had to pre-warn big brother not to pass judgment on them).
- Dr Seuss books really get on my goat if I‘m honest but, nevertheless, I had to laugh when we were reading Green Eggs and Ham the other day.
Me: Would you eat them in a box? Would you eat it with a… ? (pause for Mikey to add the missing word, fox.)
(To be fair, it did look a lot like a dog.)
- Surreal games of I-spy.
Me: I spy with my little eye something beginning with… W.
Mikey: (after a long think): “…………tree?”
It’s being able to be ‘in the moment’ so often that is one of the best things about being a stay-at-home Dad, I reckon.
News flash. Just got a text from Jack that he’s found my lost marbles, or at least some of them. Don’t dare ask him where he found them, just glad they’re safe.
Aug 7, 2008
Remember that eerie feeling you used to get after a hard night on the town? Hours of loud music, conversations morphing into shouting competitions, alcohol, sleep deprivation… There you'd be, sitting on the bed, winding down for a few hours sleep with a high-pitch ringing in your ears and no ability to think through a simple sequence of events – like taking your pants off, turning the off the light and getting into bed.
I experienced that again last night. The day started at six AM with a wet bed (not mine thankfully, although back in my partying days…) and a wet three-year-old. I stood shivering in my jocks in the pale night-light of the boy’s room and couldn’t work out how to manage the situation. Put some clothes on Archie? On myself? Change the sheets? Hop into Lewis’s bed?
I thought about ringing Nanny and Gramps to baby-sit but, shit, it was too early. I thought about putting Archie in front of the TV with a bowl of lollies but no, TV fries kids’ brains, and lollies… well, there’s something wrong with them too.
All the while my internal sleep pusher (Dr Drowser – more on him in future posts) was standing to one side offering me another hour of bliss if I could just come up with the right tricks. Cripes, I would have given him my soul for another hour of sleep. I would’ve knocked over an old lady for her Nanny Blanky and just TEN MORE MINUTES…
Anyway, I somehow got my act together just as Lewis woke up and then spent another ten minutes squinting under the kitchen lights before managing to get two bowls, weetbix, milk and spoons under Lewis and Archie’s beaming faces.
As soon as I turned my back – splat, Lewis swipes his onto the floor.
Spilt Weetbix at six in the morning is enough to kill a man (well, this man anyway).
The day continued in that fashion. It was hectic and loud and filled with tantrums and laughter, bandaids and conjunctivitis, snot-mopping every ten minutes and dozens of toilet trips, fights for overly visible treats at the supermarket and nappy-change wrestling, play-dough piles in the carpet and Texta lines on the floorboards, disagreements on food choices and bowl colours, worm-finding, muddy clothes, hanging out washing, four vacuum runs, thirteen table top wipes, naptime battles and twenty-three unfinished cups of coffee.
So, finally, that night, after an hour of sleep stand-off (Christ kids, if you don’t want the sleep, give it to me!) they were out to it and after some general cleaning and tidying up I was sitting on my bed with the ringing in my ears – just like the old days but without alcohol and without choice. There was dishes to be done, cleaning, ironing etc but Dr Drowser was offering me an extended trip for the simple price of neglecting my responsibilities. Yeah, it would be a bigger job with the kids in the morning but like I said, I am a sleep-addict and Dr Drowser knows it. Consequences, smonseqeunces. Here’s my left arm Dr Drowser. Give me some.
No sooner had I laid back on the bed, Lewis woke up. I scooped him up and headed downstairs in an attempt to avoid waking Archie and sat in front of “So You Think You Can Dance”. For ten minutes I was sure Lewis would nod off in my lap but all of a sudden he jumped up, blinking at me over his over-hot, ruddy cheeks and straining against the conjunctivitis sting in his right eye.
He said, “Weetbix, Daddy?”
I said “Weetbix???” and at that point Lewis started laughing, crazily.
I felt a pang of fear then and turned around half expecting Archie to be standing there with some rope and some wire-cutters. Had they been planning this the entire day? Were they trying to break me?
“You threw your Weetbix off the table, Lewy, remember…”.
Oh, hang on. That was twelve hours ago. Plus, I’m reasoning with a toddler.
Dr Drowser bent down to my ear and whispered: Give him whatever he wants and I’ll give you some slumber.
Okay Dr Drowser.
Into the kitchen again, trying to convince myself I hadn’t fallen asleep and woken up to an entirely new day. Weetbix were served and delirium set in. I ended up having the best time I’d had this far with little Lewy. He somehow thought this was the greatest joke ever and we were both laughing our heads off without any real reason. I’ve never seen Lewis laugh this hard.
I took some photos. Horrid ones – Lewis’s current illness coupled with my skills of photography. But after one of the toughest days I’ve put in as a home-Dad to this point, I ended up with the best laugh I’ve had for ages, Weetbix at 9.30pm, and a bonding experience I reckon I’ll remember for ever.
I never worked this hard when I was a full-time employee but then there weren’t these kinds of rewards on offer either.
Aug 5, 2008
This is a blog for what I call “real dads” — the kind that love to play with their kids and don’t mind changing stinky diapers. It’s for the kind of father who’s heart breaks because he’s at work all day instead of being home raising his children. Not every dad is a real dad, and that’s OK. But if you’ve sought out this blog, then you probably are.
Getting together every now and then with a bunch of other dads is fantastic. Your kids can rocket off one another and spill biscuit crumbs or Playdough on somebody else's floor while you caffeinate and enjoy conversation with somebody over the age of 3.
The kind people at Playgroup Victoria send us copies of their 'Playgrouper' magazine every now and then. It makes for pretty scary reading. Apparently there are playgroups out there with quarter-hourly activity timetables, developmental milestones and toy-disinfecting rosters.
Who do they think these playgroups are for? Kids?
Our arrangement is a whole lot more civilised. We trash each other's living rooms on a rotating basis, with occasional visits to a museum, children's farm or some-such, to allow some extra time for people's gardens, living rooms or pets to recover. The activities are more "fluid" to suit the individual child's preference, from arranging toy cars geometrically to eating sand (that's my daughter…), or seeing how far you can jump off the front porch into the rose bed (last school holidays the kids beat the dads. The shame…)
But the real value of a dad's group is the chance to sit down with a bunch of other blokes in similar circumstances, drink some coffee and talk about stuff that could be everything or nothing to do with kids.
It's great to compare notes, especially about some of the totally bizarre stuff you hear people say when it comes to raising children. An example:
Back when my wife was in the early stages of her pregnancy we went to some end-of-year function hosted by my then boss. He'd sucked back a fair amount of wine, and was feeling ready to expound to the restaurant at large his gnomic words of wisdom on the issue of raising kids.
"It's piss-easy," he said, "you just stick 'em in a basket under the table. Then they go to school. My sons are in their teens - parenthood is a doddle."
He sat down, to the sound of his wife grinding her teeth.
A few of the dads have met guys like my ex-boss at some time or another. Sometimes it's a generational thing. Sometimes there are guys out there whose kids are just magically maintained by the invisible snot-and nappy fairy, and they're chief-in-charge of occasional playing. Sometimes you meet people who think that being a parent at home is beer and skittles, with a break for Oprah.
Sure, I don't want to claim that being a stay-at-home dad is like building the Great Wall of China with your teeth - but if it's piss easy, you're probably not doing it right.
Aug 2, 2008
But, no, that doesn’t mean I’m the kind of Dad who’d tie his kids to a chair and cut their ears off in pursuit of a confession. When it comes to kids I prefer more subtle forms of torture. (On the other hand, if that DVD control goes missing one more time…)
Speaking of torture, I’ve been thinking about the disciplining of children lately. We borrowed the time-out-in-the-laundry approach for Archie. It was suggested to us by Sally and Cobes, friends of ours who have four daughters under the age of 10. It worked very well for Archie. Just the threat of the laundry can address inappropriate behaviour.
We haven’t had quite the same success with Lewis though, especially when it comes to discouraging him from one of his favourite past times – hitting things. Everything in our house (including the house), inanimate or otherwise has suffered the wrath of the Mighty Lewy. You should have seen him lay into this helpless banana once. I get the feeling that if he’d had access to a chair, some rope and a razor blade he would have gone to town on the curvy yellow bastard.
I have to admit, I feel a swelling of pride when I witness his patience and fierce focus on the task at hand. I intervened on his attempt to whack Archie on the head several times the other day. Every time I let him go he raised his hand in strike mode and walked steadily in Archie’s direction. Archie continued to dodge and weave but I knew from experience that he’d slowly fatigue and cop a series of whacks. So after repeated warnings it was off to the laundry.
Two minutes later I open the door.
Reservoir Dad “Lewis you mustn’t hit. OK? You come and say sorry to Archie.”
Reservoir Dad “Come and say sorry to Archie or you can stay in the laundry.”
I closed the door but could hear Lewis giggling in anticipation. When I opened it again, two minutes later, Lewis busts out laughing. Peek-a-bloody-boo! I did my best to suppress a smile but failed.
Archie walked down the hall, noticed my smirk and started laughing because I was trying so hard to stop laughing at Lewis laughing. In a flustered, panicked kind of way I said “No! Stop laughing Archie,” before I started laughing as well – at myself mostly – because trying to be a stern, controlled parent in that situation is just a crazy-hard thing to do.
Pfft… I wish I could stay angry sometimes.
Funny thing is, Lewis reminds me of myself. I used to struggle not to laugh when I was being disciplined as well. My Dad always said I’d grow out of it. Well, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Jul 31, 2008
This story led to several similar stories from other Dad's who had faced a social shunning when discussing their kids with their wives present. Mick even gave us an example of becoming The Invisible Man without his wife present. He was waiting to register his youngest for his immunisation only to find several mothers ushered to the sign-in desk ahead of him. When he pointed out he'd been waiting longer than some of those being called through the nurse apologised and thought he was simply there with one of the other Mum's. I guess a Dad couldn't possibly handle baby stuff on his own...
A few other examples that were mentioned –
Dad was at the checkout of a local supermarket when a middle-aged employee tickled his boy under the chin and said, “Spending some time with Daddy, are we?” Daddy smiled, extended his middle finger inside his jacket pocket and thought – yes, twenty-four hours, seven days a week.
Another Dad was in the aisles of the supermarket (supermarket stories are common) doing his best to control two screaming kids when an employee says loudly, “Don’t worry, you’ll be home with Mummy soon.”
I’ve had my share of those experiences too of course. Just this week I was at KindaGym with Lewis while Archie was at three-year-old Kindergarten. The instructor addressed the group several times as Mothers. I looked at myself in the floor-to-ceiling mirror just to make sure I was still noticeably masculine. I was.
Now, I may be taking on a role that is traditionally a female-dominated one, but that doesn’t mean I’ve suddenly become a woman or need to become more ‘feminine’ to do it competently. It’s also true that Reservoir Mum is as womanly (and sexy) as she’s always been. Despite working fulltime and earning the cash she has managed to avoid growing a beard or an Adam’s apple.
The instructor did manage to correct herself at the end of the session. As we were preparing ourselves for a hearty rendition of Pattycake, Pattycake, Baker’s Man she asked the children, “Do you cook biscuits and cakes at home with your Mummy?’ before shaking her head and saying, ‘Sorry, I’m being terribly sexist – Mummy or Daddy…”
There is some humour involved in those stories of course – the other Dad’s and I managed to have a laugh while expressing a bit of frustration – and you can understand it in the context that the majority of full-time caregivers are generally women, but assumptions and stereotypes don't do much for promoting options for families.
And it’s always been my opinion that the more options and choices families have the greater the chances that all family members will be happy.
Jul 30, 2008
I, on the other hand, worked in the same career for 10 years but changed jobs, sites and roles dozens of times because I just wasn't into it and was trying to keep myself from going crazy with the monotony. The sound of that whip cracking...
So it wasn't a very difficult decision to make when we sat down to decide how we'd structure our lives once the second child - Lewis - came along. Reservoir Mum loves to work and makes a lot of money doing it. Reservoir Dad doesn't like work very much at all and makes a lot less money. We assumed the kids would be happier at home with us than at child care.
I remember holding on to six month old Lewis with two-year-old Archie standing beside me, as we waved Reservoir Mum goodbye and I started my first official day as a stay-at-home Dad. We went back inside, the door clicked behind us and we waited for a moment. Nothing happened. Looking back now, I get the feeling that I was standing in a bomb shelter without realising that I was actually holding on to the bomb.
In all my other roles, there was always someone around to show me how to get started, what to do, who to report to if I had questions. But it wasn't long before I realised who my new bosses were. Lewis started crying, Archie started raiding cupboards and I started patting bums, talking in a language that relied more on facial expressions than words and cleaning and cleaning and cleaning. Since then (and a lot of ups and downs) the two terrors (the best kids in the world) have been structuring my day for me and I am slowly starting to learn to go with the flow.
This blog will mainly focus on my role as a stay-at-home Dad but I won't limit it to just that. Hello to family and friends, and anyone else who drops by.