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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Four Fathers

On Saturday I met four fathers.

In the morning I met The Swimmer. At the baby pool, with his son in tow, he towered over the toddlers in the water, a frame toned by a lifelong dedication to swimming; evidence that he continued to swim regularly. His son, months older than Erin, took wobbly steps in the pool and then threatened to drown; he confessed that he'd never really tried swimming lessons for his son, who choked and sputtered on the chlorinated water while Erin bounced around him, dunking herself under and popping back up, launching herself at me as I hid my waistline beneath the water.

In the afternoon I met The Club Rat. Standing at the snack table at Baby Loves Disco while the DJ dropped phat beats for the kids on the dancefloor, "YMCA" began to play: "Great song," he muttered, sincerely, to no one in particular, but I was the only one there, so he must have meant it for me. "I'm out of my element; there are too many moms here," his stance and offer said. I grabbed a handful of crackers, smiled at him perfunctorily and gave him a little nod as I turned to go back to the dancefloor where Erin was bopping along. "I can't help you," I telepathized at him, "You used the worst pickup line ever." 

Later that afternoon, still at the nightclub where they were serving juice boxes and liquor, I met The Liar. Standing at the bottom of the short staircase leading from the bar to the dancefloor, he waited for his three year old son to descend; his wife was next to him, but facing toward the stage. He watched his son take the top step aggressively, then catch his toe on the next step and tumble, head first, down the remaining stairs and land on his face and hands on the floor. Erin descended the stairs behind him, grabbing the rails all the way down until she reached the bottom. His wails had attracted his mother's attention; she turned and, shocked, righted him and asked his father what had happened. "Oh, well, nothing. Don't worry. He just stood up there on that top step and jumped all the way down. He's fine. He's a great jumper."

And in the early evening, sitting once again at the Mosh Pit,  I met The Lost Boy. Emily and I watched as Erin climbed up and slid down the play bridge in the Mosh Pit. We sat next to the father of a boy who pushed her down once; he typed away on his laptop, looking up occasionally to note his son's location. "I'm a stay at home dad," he said to Emily as they chatted briefly. "Oh? My husband's a stay at home dad too." "Really?" He extended his hand and I gripped it in mine. He smiled widely, and he maintained the handshake a little too long, caught off-guard and grateful that he had met someone else in the fraternity. "Have you used any of the online resources for at-home dads?" I asked, "Meetup groups and online forums?" "No," he replied, "there used to be a San Jose at-home dad meetup group, but they folded. It's too bad, because I can't hang out with the moms, you know?"

"No," I said, "I hang out with moms all the time."

Come to think of it, I suppose I met a fifth father yesterday: The Judgmental Father. He thinks his shit doesn't stink.


Writer Dad said...

Great last line.

Sam (The Edge Of Insanity) said...

I think it's great what you do. If I could get a job that pays what my husbands does, I would love for him to have that chance to be a sahd and be there for them like I've been lucky enough to do for the past 4 years.
And he would be like you, he would be hangin' out with the sahm moms all the time!

Carmen said...

what do you mean "hiding my waistline beneath the water"?
You're going to be in the hot bloggers calendar! If the abs aren't ready, you better working on the six-pack. We're paying good money for this thing!

Aunt Becky said...

Loves it.

Will said...

This is one of those thought provoking articles that make me think, "which one am I?"

CaraBee said...

I think I'm judgmental mom. I try so hard not to be, but when I see the crazy crap people do to/with their kids I just can't help it. They had Baby Loves Disco here this past Saturday and I tried to talk my husband into going but he wouldn't have anything to do with it.

Momo Fali said...

Last week on vacation, I was trying to hide my waist below the water when a wave hit me from behind and my top went down around my waist. So much for being inconspicuous.

Anonymous said...

That Liar Dad made me very sad for the kid, and angry at a parent who will stand idly by and watch his toddler eat shit on the stairs.

for a different kind of girl said...

It calms me to know that I'm teamed with Just Right Dad - right in the mix of things, while still knowing when to let them go. What's even more fantastic is that our boys look at him like he's Fantastic Dad.

(P.S. What would Ryan Reynolds do?)

Surfer Jay said...

I gotta tell ya, I feel some trepidation about hanging with the moms. I just started as a sahd, and am still debating over when to start some classes with the boy. I know I will hang with all the moms, but when I actually give in and just do it or am eventually forced into it, I don't know.

Ali said...

i don't even like hanging out with the moms. heh.

bejewell said...

This really got me thinking... If you met me in real life, what "mom" would you come away thinking you'd just met? I'm guessing it'd be something like "Confused, Bitchy, Socially Awkward Mom."

Now I'm kind of hoping I never meet. Because the more I think about it, the more I think the description above might be a little optimistic.

Elisa said...

Why can't he hang out with the moms? The Stay At Home Dad in Sarah's old class hung out with the moms, he came to brunches and all. And thank goodness, because he was one of the few approachable parents in that Chanel-bag-swinging Queen Bee club.

Also, YMCA a great song? I would have walked away too.

mamatulip said...

This is a very, very well-written post, BD.

anna said...

Hah--very funny post. We went to Baby Loves Disco here, it was quite strange. I can't decide if I liked it or not. We took home a bunch of those shakey-egg noisemaker things, thus teaching our son how to begin a life of crime.

Love the liar dad! What a putz.

Judgmental Mom

Anissa Mayhew said...

Thankfully you're not labeling the moms, I'd be frightened to see where the majority of us fall.

Redneck Mommy said...

I'm THAT mom.

The one all the other kids love, while my children pretend not to know me in public.

Which only makes me try harder, thus cementing my status as THAT mom in their eyes.

It's a vicious circle.

I wouldn't have pegged you as a judgemental daddy though.

More of a pushover poppa.

Wendy said...

Not judgemental! "Observant Dad" sounds a lot more like the truth. This also cements my opinion that lots of dad's just can't pay attention to what's going on around them. Is it that men don't multi-task as well, while many women *over* multi-task?

The Yummy Mummy Cooks Gourmet said...


Hmmm...I wonder if anybody wrote about me today...

Anonymous said...

Who says you don't get out, you get out dancing, during the day, with pretty ladies (well pretty girls?) and juice boxes! I wanna place to go out dancing during the day too!

Chicky Chicky Baby said...

Well, this Judgmental Mom hates Liar Dad and would like to kick him in the nuts.

I guess I also fall under the category of Angry Mom.

Backpacking Dad said...

writer dad: well, an honest one anyway :}

sam (the edge of insanity): more power to him.

carmen: uh...did I say that? I meant "flaunting my rockin' abs right in his face".

aunt becky: love you.

will: Oh, there are many more than four, Will.

carabee: tell him the bar serves real drinks.

momo fali: and that is why I don't swim in the ocean. I hate it when my top gets washed away.

blissfullycaffeinated: well, I'm not sure he could have stopped the kid from falling (and it wasn't a long or dangerous fall), but I was flabbergasted that he was so defensive that he felt like he had to lie to his wife about it.

FADKOG: Ryan Reynolds would be all "I a have something slightly sarcastic and witty to say that will make you seem foolish. Now check out my rockin' abs."

surfer jay: your mileage may vary, but I've had an almost universally good experience. Go in with the attitude that you actually have something in common and the conversations will start. From those conversations you will grow more comfortable.

ali: that's because they're jealous. (I know how it works)

bejewell: I'm not insane. I don't do this with moms :}. Dads leap out at me.

elisa: I think he thought he'd be hitting on them or something.

mamatulip: thanks Mama T :}

anna: There's a sign: please return the toys!!! :} We almost took one home too.

anissa mayhew: you are all "raising an excellent generation and fully realized individuals" moms.

redneck mommy: those two are not mutually exclusive.

wendy: well, I don't know. I think I'm a pretty good multi-tasker. In fact, my wife usually complains that I have to be doing 4 things at once.

the yummy mummy cooks gourmet: why? what did you do? :}

loudange: who says I don't go out? oh, yeah. me :}

chicky chicky baby: I was just embarrassed by Liar Dad. Dude, you don't need to cover your ass. Kids fall.