You’re doing a great job

I saved someone’s life the other day.  I was working as a nurse, so there was an expectation that I would be doing that sort of thing.  It was a team effort as well.  I can’t take full credit.  Still, he was my patient, he was my responsibility, I recognised the life threatening event that happened to him, and I was part of the team that put in quite a bit of effort to make sure that he didn’t die in front of us.

He was so grateful for what I had done, that when he regained consciousness, he roundly abused me, went on a long, foul mouthed and not very coherent rant about my personal failings, and tied it all up with the idea that I should mind my own business and leave him alone.  It was a bit disappointing, but not uncommon where I work.

In shining contrast, however, is people’s reaction when I am in public.  Walking down the street, standing in a shop, sitting in a cafe, random strangers will stop to congratulate me.

‘You’re doing a great job.’

‘It’s not easy is it, but you’re doing really well.’

‘Good on you, mate.  I’ve got to admire you.’

It feels a little patronising at times, but they are so overjoyed at my mundanity, that I just haven’t the heart to take offence.  Dads’ doing ordinary things in public with their children is apparently so extraordinary, that it will literally stop people in their tracks.  If these people only realised that I can also mop floors, change nappies, wash clothes and cook a meal, they would just be doing cartwheels for me.

Packing for pre school

Obviously, it’s not just limited to me.  Other Dads have mentioned it as well.  It seems that society’s expectations of Dads involvement with their own children are so low, that any effort which doesn’t involve taking them to sport is remarkable.  Even stranger to me, though, is that it only seems to work in one direction.

Like all families, the boys and I have had our ‘bad behaviour in public’ moments.  I have heard and read so much from women about the judgemental looks and snarky comments they get when this happens.  I might simply be blind and deaf to the opinions of others, but I cannot recall a single instance of being called out when one of us goes crazy at the shops.  It is as if there is a base line assumption that I will be doing a hopeless job, and so everyone is comfortable to ignore it if that is what I do.

Life often seems such an arbitrarily difficult and inherently unfair process, that having gone to such a lot of effort to bring a couple of people into it, I can’t help but feel responsible for looking out for them.  My approach to my boys stems from this basic idea.  My major role in the next foreseeable part of my life is to show them how to deal with it all as best I can until they are capable of doing it for themselves.

I simply cannot understand why this should be so unusual.

About Blokeschool

I am a homeschooling dad with a wife and two boys. I'm not quite sure what I'm doing, so I feel compelled to write it all down. In my spare time, I work as a manager for the local health district, drink too much coffee, and am an overenthusiastic martial artist.
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6 Responses to You’re doing a great job

  1. Miriam says:

    I agree with you. While my husband and I have always had a traditional division of labor- he goes out to work and I stay home- he is every bit as capable of being a parent as I am. Other than breastfeeding, there is nothing I do that he can’t do. It’s not even something we think about, and like you I find it surprising when people comment on what a great dad he is.
    I’m never sure what to say… I’m like “thanks, I guess…” Really, I wouldn’t have married him and had kids with him if he wasn’t going to be a good father. It should be the norm, not the exception.

    • Blokeschool says:

      I like your attitude that you would never have gotten married and had kids with him if you didn’t think he was up to the job. It really should be the norm.

  2. J.C says:

    it always baffles me as well! I know some people who say the most ridiculous. Like, when i am out without the kids ‘oh is hubby babysitting tonight’. Um, no, he’s just being a parent, like me, it’s one of those things you do. You don’t BABYSIT your own kids. It’s refreshing to hear from the male perspective about this, and I hope that in years to come the expectations of fathers is lifted a bit, and this becomes a norm, as Miriam said above.

  3. Blokeschool says:

    Babysitting his own kids? Seems to defeat the purpose a bit, doesn’t it? I hope he only charges mates rates 🙂

  4. Tina says:

    Great post! My hubby’s father was the type (and still is) that believes very strongly in gender roles. Thankfully, my hubby’s mom had a bigger influence. It has taken a while for my husband to be a confident father, but it’s been a great transformation to watch!

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