Jul 31, 2008

The Invisible Man

At the Northern Dad's Group a few weeks ago, one of the Dad's, Dan, brought up the issue of The Invisible Man - quite a common occurrence in the land of home Dad's. He and his wife had been down at the local council sorting out some paperwork relating to their son. During the interview the council worker addressed all questions to Dan's wife without as much as a sideways glance at the humbled Dad.

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.


daddybrain said...

Well said. I totally understand. We are in the middle of an equal rights movement for dads. Thank you for your positive contribution. I too am sick and tired of being treated like a sexond class parent.

It will be my pleasure to include this post in Monday's "Tops in Pops." Thank you for submitting.



Anonymous said...

got a new one for you, RD. i came across this...
...when checking out what's on at the movies tonight. believe it or not, i'm not too fussed about the 'MUMS and bubs' name - what drives me nuts is how the two movies they list are 'Mamma Mia! - The Movie' and 'Baby Mama' nuthin' but chick flicks! GRRRRRR!

what do you reckon my odds are of some more 'invisible man' treatment in the ticket queue?


Reservoir Dad said...

Thanks for the comment daddybrain. Thanks for the great blog. Look forward to your post on Monday.

True Mick. I have thought about going to a session with Arch and Lewis but that momentary awkwardness of asking for a 'mum' ticket has stopped me. What a crock. (The movie selection does nothing for me either)