Do parenting and fatherhood go hand-in-hand? You bet it does! Don’t agree with me? I mean, there’s so much stereotype attached to dads and their ability to care for their young ones that dads are portrayed as duds. Dads get trolled on the internet. Cameras are ever ready to capture their misses for Just For Laughs Gags. Aren’t they filmed to keep the show going? But before I digress, I still wonder why I evoke those sympathetic glances and tongue-clucks from my colleagues on a Saturday, after I’ve told them my husband is babysitting the children.
“Are you sure?” Well, if I weren’t sure I wouldn’t step out of the house leaving my children in the cradle of doubts. Come on, what’s all this about fathers! They aren’t inviting a tornado in there, folks! “But hey, we just meant that things are ok by the time you get home.” Pardon me; he is just not a babysitter. He is a father.
I am pretty sure kids will be in perfect health and with their joints intact when I see them in the evening. For one, their father would rather have an infliction on himself than have a whammy drop on the kids. I am sure a paid babysitter wouldn’t do that to herself. Two, as a father, this man knew instinctively when our two-year-old broke through his nursery, pulled a chair, managed to mount the kitchen counter only to trawl through stuff because he knew candies were hidden somewhere there. Daddy makes it in time to catch the little rascal before he falls. Guess what, it was the chair that fell off because Papa frantically wanted to save his son than save the damned teakwood chair. What’s worse, he surrendered the bag of candies to our baby, so he wouldn’t have to go through the tour de force again. Here’s where Papa loses. Mama still manages to hide the candy bag. So, when I see him in the evening a bit disheveled, I know he has done something. I impulsively say, “I knew you were up to something.” But my heart sinks soon after complaining when I see my kid’s savior right there.
I ask him, “What else did you and the kids do?”
(At this point, I can recognize how disorganized the house has become within twelve hours.)
As he goes on to tell me, I am only half-listening, wondering how long it would take to rearrange the stuff.
OK, however, I figured out that they almost had a scuffle when it was breakfast time. The kids gave up their civility for a while. As Papa was making them toast, one of them asked for a hot dog, the other one for cereals and Papa brought out the entire kitchen on the table, while he ended up eating nothing.
Bath time ended up with a “No bath day.”
“What? You didn’t give them a shower?”
“At least, saved them from accidentally turning on the hot water.”
Lunch time ended up with burned macaroni cheese because the son pooped on the carpet and daddy spent ages cleaning the smears and then wiping the still-running-around rascal.
“What? You didn’t feed them?”
“No, they were full of all the delicacies you had been hiding in the freezer. Of course, they got to have the good crusts from that macaroni and cheese.”
Dressing up was quite like a Fashion TV parade. Kids loved to pick clothes from the laundry area that were yet to be washed. A spill of squash here and there. Soiled from playing in the garden. Mismatched accessories. And those scruffy shoes.
Added to this, the hair-dos. Oh! I never invented those five pigtails in my lifetime. But hey, they looked cool.
“So is this how you took kids out to play?”
“Yes, it saved their neat ironed clothes and hair from getting matted.”
Unconvincing at first, all of it made sense to me when I hit the sack.
My fears of how my neighbors would have glared at my kids while they strutted their different avatars. How I would have come to defend my husband. “Yes, they’re dressed up as trendsetters. Just get tips to save your laundry business from my husband. Honestly, tidy clothes don’t work when you have five-year-olds splashing stuff here and there. Do your kids listen?”
And then he works on nursing that bruise the little one had.
Or arbitrating a fight among kids.
Or putting up with the adamant sandcastle makers.
At the end of it all, he is on his knees begging for the kids to get home for supper.
And while he is preparing for dinner, he thinks about that bruise. “It isn’t life-threatening, is it?” All the while telling his boy that he is just fine, but his keeps fretting inside, pulling out his mobile to look up the side-effects of betadine! Ehm!
And, before mama is home, he searches for that air-freshener to subdue the fungi that must already be growing on the sofa cushions from leftovers and spills.
He would heave a sigh of relief with the arrival of Mama, believing that she will take over from here, but nope, Mama still needs time to get on the real mommy job. So he will give in to the kids, snuggle in with them in their bed and read them a story – even if they detest his style of reading – and once he puts them to sleep, he so fondly thinks about the wee misgivings of the little brutes.
Mama’s been there; she knows it all.
You took over for a day, and you did a wonderful job.
Won’t the corporates get this straight – yes, dads might not give birth, but you would be doing them a favor – at least in the form of longer paternity leaves. And, the mommies need to stop scoffing at their partners.
It’s downright criminal how women downplay all the daddies out there because only they are adept at caring for their children in their beautiful ways. Isn’t it why kids love their separate time with daddy!
Here’s why I owe the father of my children a treat. It’s time we stopped being unscrupulous in our attitudes towards their paternal affections.