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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Dadness Mortified

By way of introduction, here is one of my favourite recent stories:

(Originally posted on Livejournal, February 13th, 2008)

I took Erin to the park today to eat some sand. She one-upped me by chipmunking a leaf and gagging on it later.

It was her first solo playdate, with an adorable little girl, T. By default it was also my first solo playdate with T's mom E. The girls have played lots of times, and E is one of Emily's mom friends that I hijacked back in October when I started going to the playgroup. E and I have hung out frequently, but always in a group of people. She has quickly become a good friend of mine as well.

That today was our first solo playdate occurred to me while we were having the following conversation, which I'll paraphrase because I don't remember it exactly:

  • E: "Have you ever seen 'The Little Children'? Kate Winslet? She's a stay-at-home mom. Anyway, there are these moms who go to a park, and there's this guy who is a stay-at-home dad, and the moms all call him The Prom King."
  • Me: "Why do they call him 'The Prom King'?"
  • E: "Because he's really good-looking and they get all swoon-y. So, R (E's husband) and I were watching it the other night, and I turned to him and said, "Don't worry, we don't say that about Shawn"."
  • Me (after a pause): "Oh. Well, I was never the Prom King."

Even though my immediate response could well have been "Ouch!", it wasn't, because I know her comment to R was about how the moms in the real group differ from the moms in the movie (not swooning, bored idiots, but awesome, professional women) rather than how I look (which is damned good all the time, thank you very much). And I never was the Prom King. But now I was conscious of being the dad in the group, and being out on a solo playdate now, and Hey, how am I perceived in this group of moms? But, that only preyed on my mind for the next hour, because I was about to be mortified.

The girls played for an hour, and we packed up to leave. Erin was in her backpack, and E was wheeling T over to their car in the stroller while Erin and I went to go in the opposite direction. And then, as I was turning to go E said something like "Oh wait [something unintelligible] kiss."

My next thoughts were very quick: (Are we at the kiss on the cheek stage in our relationship? I think I remember giving her a hug last time I saw her; I don't remember a kiss on the cheek. Who have I ever kissed on the cheek? Is E in that category now? Well, we've hung out a lot and I think we're pretty good friends. Ok, why not?)

I leaned in on the right (my right) and gave her a hug and a kiss on her left cheek. And then I hear in my left ear, something like: "I can't quite reach her."

I froze for a quarter-second eternity (drawing out the kiss on the cheek a little longer than the peck I had intended) and then I unfroze long enough to lower the backpack a little over my left shoulder so that E could kiss Erin .

But now that I was lowering the backpack I became aware that I was still kind of half-hugging E; I had begun to un-hug her, but paused in mid-un-hug to bring Erin down to her level. So in this half-un-hug state my hands were drawing away from her back but were now more on her waist.

It was like we were dancing. At the Prom.

Oh. Nice. Jackass.

I finally pulled out of the hug (and the dancing cheek-to-cheek) and turned to leave for real this time, when E called out, waving: "Tell Emily that I love her and miss her!"

Not as much as I did, right then.

Someone just smack me.

This moment of embarrassing SAHD park hijinks brought to you by a 3 mile hike with 30 lbs on my back this morning and too much fencing last night.


for a different kind of girl said...

Is it possible this gorgeous girl of yours could be any more cute?

This post is interesting to me because I've always wondered what it must be like from a SAHD's standpoint. I wrote a post, very early on in my blog, about how women in playgroups tend to do this 'dance of acceptance' with each other. Kind of like a prom, only we're all afraid we're the freaks and AV moles who crawled out of the dark room to attend, and no one will like us.

Um. Or maybe that's just me.

Thank you so much for coming by my blog and for your comments. I so appreciate new readers gravitating in. I'm definitely going to come hang out here one night and read more, so please don't worry if you wonder if you've got yourself a stalker. Just me.

Unless you also have a stalker!

Backpacking Dad said...


Now I have to write more!


I think I've seen/witnessed the prom dance of playgroup moms; I'm on the fringe of a few different groups, as well as being ensconced in one pretty deeply, and I can see the moms sorting themselves out, shuffling over to talk to a more and more select group as time goes by. And then if a new mom shows up (usually at the public parenting center playgroup) and looks for a way to reach out to other adults and have a conversation they can have a pretty tough time of it unless they already have a sponsor.

That's how I think of it, anyway: club, sponsor, applicant, probation period, ass-kissing, acceptance.

I just bring food.

Tacky Princess said...

OMG, your story is hilarious! Keep up the great work. I'm a new reader of your blog. Thanks for the love over at White Trash Mom. As a mom who always worked full-time when our girls were little, I never felt that I fit in when I had a day off and took them to the park. The other moms would be there for their play dates, and we never knew anyone. Kiss? No kiss? Whatever...

DramaMama said...

Thanks for writing from your perspective! I sort of lead a parents group...a couple that we knew in college just moved here and the dad stays at home, so naturally I invited him to our group. I didn't think anything of it until his wife told him he should ask me/the other moms if we were ok w/him hanging out! We are fine w/it and actually it's great to get that dad wisdom sometimes. But I have noticed that a few times it was just him and me doing things together and people have started talking about 'the guy' I am always seen w/!! Too funny. Luckily we are both comfortable and so are our spouses. Anyway - I laughed at your post and it helps me think about the way we interact...nice blog and don't let us mommies give you any crap!

Backpacking Dad said...


-k said...

How funny! You were reading mine - while I was reading yours! ...That didn't sound dirty in my head! Be thankful you didn't full on kiss her...
Thanks for coming by and leaving a comment. I'll add you to my list and check in with you now.

DadGoneMad said...

You had me at "Kate Winslet."

Backpacking Dad said...

Yeah. I'm the king of the world.

Thanks for stopping by.

bsouth said...

tee-hee - it's nice to hear someone else being slightly socially inappropriate - I thought that was my job. I'm too cowardly to blog my embarrassing moments so you're a better man than me (even though I'm not one). I found you through DGM, looking forward to reading more (so yes, get typing).

Danielle said...


Nothin' like makin' out on the playground....

This is funny! I may start referring to you as the Prom King.

Kat said...

Urgh, I have a hard time with playgroups, the whole dynamic. My husband is a SAHD to our three year old, and I've looked around a little in our neighborhood to see if there are any playgroups he could join. They're ALL for moms. I'm wondering if it's really true that in our little corner of suburbia, he's the only stay at home dad? Or maybe the SAHDs just don't advertise like the SAHMs do.

Funny story, I hope you've sufficiently recovered from your mortification. :)

Backpacking Dad said...

Danielle: Oy. Although I not-so-secretly want to be Freddie Prinze Jr. in "She's All That".

Kat: I have. And our little girls are best friends so we hang out all the time now. The other moms are jealous though :}

Elisa said...

I'm sorry to be laughing at your post, but it's not really at you. Well, kind of, but it's more of a "oh, been there, glad I'm not theonly jackass in the world" laugh.

But really, why would she bring that whole movie scene thing up? Didn't she think it would make you uncomfortable? Maybe she was also nervous and trying to fill the silence? I've been there too - silence makes me nervous so I've been known to try to fill it with stuff that isn't exactly shards of brilliance at times.

So see, I'm not the only jackass, but I'm obviousl I bigger jackasee than you are. All is good. ;-)

bejewell said...

I just fell in love with you all over again. In a completely non-stalkerish way, of course.

Oh, hell, who am I kidding, it's in a TOTALLY stalkerish way.

And I am actually feeling a little better now about my own inappropriate, awkward hug moment. So thank you for that.