The Splash Park

Even in this age of political correctness and equality, I feel that stay at home dads can get a rough deal. It’s not all bad, but I’d be lying if I said I always felt included. Some of the other Dads think you’re lazy. Some of the Moms think this as well. On top of that some of them treat you like you are some weirdo who just likes lurking at public places, like we aren’t all there doing the exact same thing! I’m just trying to make sure my daughter has a good day.

Whenever I take Chicago to our local park, I feel like I’m the biggest outcast in the world. There is usually the “mothers clique” there and they aren’t very polite or inclusive. I used to wave to them, but they never returned it, so I stopped. Sometimes they will acknowledge my daughter, some of them even know her name, which leads me to believe that they must talk to my partner whenever she takes Chicago to the park. It always felt awkward being there, so now we only go to the park when they aren’t there.

Obviously, I’m generalising. There are some wonderfully supportive and kind people out there. It’s not all bad. Haters come in all shapes and sizes, but so does kindness. A lot of strangers will tell me that I have a lovely daughter and must be a great father. They comment on how obvious it is that she loves me. It’s always nice to hear. And it goes without saying that my friends and family are supportive. They don’t treat me like it’s weird that I am the stay at home parent in my household.

I understand that I am in the minority. I usually am! It’s nice to not be reminded of it constantly though. And today is one of those stories. Yes, despite my slightly negative start to this piece, it is a tale of inclusion and just feeling like a parent, who hung out with other parents, regardless of our gender.

It started yesterday when I got an invite from my sister-in-law to hang out today. Her son, my nephew, is a similar to age to Chicago. Actually, I want to hit pause. In-Laws confuse me. Not as people, that’s a whole other story! I mean their titles as In-Laws. Sometimes I can’t get my head around. I call her my sister-in-law, but I don’t think it is technically true. She is my partner’s, brother’s, wife. So we aren’t related by blood or by law. But she is my sister-in-law anyway.

Anyway, I’m not here to talk about my confusion with my extended family tree. Back to the story.

So, I got invited to hang out with my sister-in-law today. She was taking her son to the splash park across town and she was going with one of her friends from her mother’s group, and her daughter. I was pretty excited, it was my first parents hang out without my partner or bestie. I was flying solo and I can happily report that I had a good day.

I didn’t have a water nappy for Chicago, so my sister-in-law kindly provided me with a bunch of them and ordered me a reusable one of our own. It’s got flamingo’s (flamingoes? flamingi?) and is very cute. It’s white and pink, two of my favourite colours!

After a small argument with Chicago, she was dressed and ready to go! My brave little adventure and her cousin set forth into the splash park and all the wonders within. They got very wet and were having a blast! My sister-in-law and I just watched and had a chat. We also got a bit soaked ourselves, water was going everywhere!

We were soon joined by the 5th and 6th members of today’s party, her friend and her daughter! I’m usually a bit timid and awkward when meeting new people, but I was quickly put at ease. Our kids all got along just fine, as did as adults!

When play time was over, we paused for a picnic lunch, which was kindy provided by the other two. Chicago, as per normal, ate more than her fair share of food! When I do that, I’m being gluttonous. When she does it, it’s cute. Figures! We did have a yummy lunch though and then resumed playing.

For a short while at least. We obviously were having too much fun and wore our kids out! Chicago started throwing a tantrum because I wouldn’t let her prevent other kids from playing on the playground. Once her tantrum started, it was hard to stop. Home time! Chicago passed out in the car pretty quickly and had a decent nap.

Today was awesome. I didn’t feel like an outcast or a minority or a weirdo. I was just a parent, hanging out with other parents and having a good time. I didn’t feel uncomfortable or judged. I had a good day. We will definitely be doing it again soon!

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