I was alerted to a piece a while ago published by The Telegraph and written by Miranda Hart called Extreme Motherhood and someone suggested I write something similar but about dads. The Telegraph published it to help promote her book, which is nice. I don’t have a book to plug but I thought I’d do it anyways, and so here goes. Once more unto the breach dear friends and all that…
In my time as a parent I’ve studied the dads who go to soft play centres and the ones I’ve seen in this small North Hertfordshire town fall into a few categories. Please forgive the massive sweeping generalisations as I think it’s great that so many dads are now as fully involved as they can be in their children’s upbringing, but this is just a laugh innit. Or is it? Sometimes I just don’t get blokes. You’ll find out why at the end…
1) The Friend
The dad who you see at soft play sessions or in playgrounds who can name all the fucking Octonauts, and calls his children guys. “C’mon guys, lets get back to mummy and I’ll fire up the barbecue.” HOORAY, his children shout. It’s December.
Invariably he jogs, is thinner than the gable end of a fiver, and laughs when he’s with his children and they hit others round the head with a bike as “it’s just a bit of rough and tumble, isn’t it guys?”
Probably sees his children as an extension of the people in the office, who he also calls guys, and who he probably leaves to clear up some of his work mess as he has to pick Flan and Bruschetta up from Little Ruggers. He’s the most aware of his right to work from home, takes up this option as much as possible, but when others do it he’ll kick up a fuss.
Doesn’t like football but loves rugby. Drinks bottled beer. Goes to farmers markets. Usually wears glasses.
2) The Frightened Rabbit
Look at him. He doesn’t know what on earth to do with them.
It’s 9.30am on a Sunday and it’s a soft play a-go-go. He speaks in a soft voice, trying to guide his children, trying to make sure they take their shoes off before they get on the bouncy castle but do they listen? Nope. Mummy usually does this and he’s hopelessly out of his depth.
Within 3 minutes he’s on his Iphone and sitting on the corner of the bouncy castle with his back to his children. By lunchtime he’s on his laptop and the kids are watching CBeebies. By 5 o’clock he’s wishing it was 7 o’clock and wishing Lenor and Antiseptica were in bed.
He’ll go to bed later than everyone else because he’s up watching Babestation.
3) The SAHD
Look. He knows what’s going on. He’s done this so many times. He’s relaxed, he’s got his bag full of snacks, the shoes and socks are off as soon as they’re in soft play and he’s sitting back and letting his children play. But what’s this? His son has just pushed someone over.
“STOP THAT NOW” he bellows, silencing the room, making some of the children cry, and some of the adults shit themselves. He’s confident that this is the best approach. But he’s forgot that sometimes softly softly catchy monkey. And everyone is looking at him. He’s shouted at a child, and we all know you don’t do this. Especially The Friend and The Frightened Rabbit who are now looking at him.
The SAHD wants to punch The Friend in the face for giving him that look, for coming up and asking him if ‘Everything’s okay dude? Kids eh?’ and The Frightened Rabbit is probably tweeting about it.
4) The Creepy Daddy
The one who comes to talk to you, is perfectly nice and someone you think you could have a laugh with, but when they see a baby in a pushchair, or when your child comes over to you, suddenly starts talking in a terrifying voice.
“Awwwww. Iccle babby cutey babby? HEWWO THERE ICCLE BABBY!” and waves like a mentalist, while smiling like a clubber on E. Or, to older children, in a deep voice while crouching down at their level “Hello young man! Do you like the Tweenies? Who’s your favourite train in Thomas? invariably muting your previous chatty toddler because he’s given them The Fear.
5) The Dad/Grandad
Older bloke with a three year old. Not sure if he’s an older dad or a grandad. You know the ones.
You get the picture.
I once went to a dads session at a playgroup, which wasn’t really a new thing for me as I used to take my children to playgroup each and every day I could. We were sitting down for snacks as the playgroup used to provide bacon rolls for the dads and children along with other snacks like fruit and stuff like that. T was sitting next to me and K was on my lap. A bloke sitting opposite me asked me what I did.
“I’m a stay at home dad.”
“Yeah, but what’s your job? You know. Your proper job?”
“That. Being a dad. I look after my children full time and my wife goes to work.”
He paused. He gulped. He shook his head slowly. He looked at my children and then at me and said.
“You fucking cunt. What a fucking mug.”
He opened his roll and squeezed ketchup over the fried bit of pig.
I stared at him. I gave him The Look. “Two things. One. Don’t ever swear in front of my children. Secondly, you know nothing about me or my life, so don’t judge me.” I also pointed at him.
“I know one thing about you and your life. You’re a mug. Who’d do that as a job? Who’d stay at home and look after their kids all day?”
“The lucky ones” I responded. I picked up my children and left. T asked why we were leaving and while I couldn’t respond the way I wanted to (“Because Daddy is going to rip that man’s head off and shit down the hole”) I explained in a way that would make sense.
“Because I want to get some cake. Shall we go get some cake?”
“Yay!” And we left.
That guy falls into a completely different category: the parents you meet when you don’t have your gun.
Have you got any variations on a theme of the above? Know of any different types? Please fill my comment holes with any general observations you may have made if you wish and, as always, thanks for reading.