you have the very best intentions in the world, no doubt. But you don’t know the full story here; for the last ten minutes we’ve been playing the ‘throw the soft toy away so that Dada has to pick it up’ game.. and I’m done with that. Since very early on, we’ve enforced a rule of ‘you throw it, you lose it’ – simple enough discipline, and a good lesson in cause and effect.
So reaching past me into my supermarket trolly to hand the little divil back her many-times-discarded dolly is not cool. I know she was whinging for it, I’m right here and could hear her – but rules is rules everywhere.
Besides the fact that in a matter of seconds dolly is surely going to end up flung again towards the freezer section, you doing that completely undermines my authority to my daughter and I’m sorry but I had to say as much. Not that it mattered to you, you just blanked me anyway, focussing entirely on the baby blues and golden curls that adorn our ruthless doll-chucker.
I can’t help but think that you wouldn’t have done that if I’d been a woman. Instead you would more likely have caught my eye with a knowing, sympathetic glance and a telepathic ‘I’ve been there’. But your assumption, and this happens all the time, is that I’m just a stand-in. I’m a clueless bloke whose chromosomes prevent him from being capable of looking after a child.
So, however unconsciously, it seemed like the right thing for you to ignore me, the parent, and indulge my toddler’s wilfulness – perhaps you’d like to come over and have a go at brushing her teeth??!! Then we’d see who’s so fecking cute!
The problem is this; an assumption of capability (or the lack of it) that’s defined by stereotypical gender roles – Man make fire, woman make babies, Ug Ug. For my own part, I’ve tried in other circumstances, not to assume that my gender makes me more competent or capable. However hard it was, I’ve not intervened, mansplained, or usurped on tasks for which I might be thought more physically able. Growing up with three sisters and having a famously kick-ass wife has helped, no doubt. So if I’m gonna try, perhaps you could too?
So hey, Lady. Why not try and afford me the same respect? I know I’m far from the perfect parent but I’m trying my damnedest here and despite what you may think, there IS a plan! If I mess up, then so be it. Let me do my job.