Yesterday at Playgroup, there were about 10 mums (it’s always mums) mainlining plunger coffee, eating biscuits and watching their kids play in idyllic delight. Except for my child who was biting babies’ noses, sitting on other toddlers and spending a great deal of time with her own nose in the corner of the room. But you know. Swings and roundabouts et. al.
A dad who I’d never laid eyes on before came into the room. I love it when dads show up to Playgroup. You can see the mums sniffing for a piece of wholesome daddy meat. The dads add flavour to the room (I mean that in a metaphoric sense). He came up to me and introduced himself. I shook his hand and introduced him to the mum I was talking to. Civilised, right?
Then he, GASP, went up and sat down at the table of mums and just started [pause for dramatic effect] chatting.I stood there amazed. And slightly in awe. Most mums don’t do that. There is usually a “getting to know you phase” with new mums who join the group. I organise the playgroup so it’s my job to make sure everyone feels like a comfy armchair when they walk into the room. I am always super friendly (with the notable exception of when I’m premenstrual and would bite your head off soon as look at you. Perhaps that’s where my child gets it from) and welcoming, throwing in slightly inappropriate and self-deprecating jokes to break the ice which often go down like Hugh Hefner on a Playboy Bunny, but, ahem, that’s me. Inappropriate and self-deprecating (not a Playboy Bunny). It’s fascinating to see the social cogs ticking over on the mums as they enter the room. They keep to themselves for awhile, sometimes over several weeks, sussing out who to talk to, who they want to get to know, who they’d rather not. They make small talk and eventually they become like wallpaper but it takes time. I’m sure for some people it is torturous.
I do it too. If I see a group of mums I don’t know in a setting that encourages socialising, the internal dialogue goes off like the clappers in my head – “There are some mums. They look nice. What if they’re not nice? Will they like me? What if they don’t like me? Is it the right time to approach? What if they’re talking about something really personal and don’t want me there?” Usually I suck it right up and approach them anyway, but not always. Sometimes I chicken out.
Of course I’m generalising, but there is a pattern. Dads seem not to have the same swiftly damaging internal dialogue that mums do. I love my mama biatches, but it was so refreshing to hang with a dad who didn’t seem to give a shit that he was the only man in a sea of oestrogen. I suspect it’s the same attitude that will make the new generation of daddy bloggers infinitely more successful than their female counterparts. There is a scent of no-bullshit, of camaraderie for the sake of it, rather than as a pre-meditated social call.
They don’t get caught up in the same friendship neuroses that we do. I hope that dad comes back next week. We need him to come back. Come back, dad, come back.