I should start with an apology for it being a month since the last Silly Daddy blog.
I will follow this apology with an excuse: We are building a new upstairs to our house and every spare minute I’ve had I’ve been painting, screwing, sanding, priming, painting, corking, polyfillering, painting, knotting, measuring, spending copious amounts of money on decorating stuff and even more bloody painting!
It’s not finished, but I’d say we’re three quarters done, and hope to NOT have an office/kitchen or a lounge/bedroom soon!
Now, as a nearly full time dad, I end up spending more time with other mums than the average man. School runs, and play groups being the most common of these occasions, and it’s at play groups that I feel the most different. In fact at times, I feel I couldn’t stand out more if I was a martian doing my weekly shop at Tesco!
When Isabelle was a toddler, it just so happened that I had Thursdays off work, so I would take her to the same play group* that I’ve just recently started attending again with Toby. I must say, this play group is spectacular value for money and run by a wonderful group of ladies that make me feel very welcome. However, I eventually stopped taking Isabelle to it on my day off, citing the excuse, ‘It’s just too bloody mumsy’ to my wife. Basically, I really did feel conspicuous when I went a couple of years ago. None of the mums talked to me, they all seemed to gather in little groups, and on the odd occasion when one of them would be forced to interact with me, usually due to the fact that their child was hitting Isabelle, they’d say, “It’s very brave of you to come here. My husband wouldn’t set foot in here with all these mums”, then re-join her friends again.
Yes, I realise this was a nice sentiment and that they were being polite, but it just made me feel like I stood out even more. In fact, I almost felt less masculine at times, which is stupid, but there you go.
Hindsight, they say, is a wonderful thing. It’s with hindsight that I realised I was being a bit lame and should have just not cared about being the only man. I mean, what was I expecting? While I’m happy striking up conversation with anyone of any age and any sex, I was hardly going to be the life and soul of a chat about the latest TV programmes, women’s fashion or the nightmare parking situation at the local school. Any more than they could contribute to an in depth conversation about what went wrong with England’s rugby world cup campaign or what a tight finish it was to this year’s British touring car championship!!?
So, this time around, now that I’m a proper (nearly) full time dad and not just spending time with my child on my day off, I’ve decided to ‘Man up’!
I still don’t get involved in much chat with other mums at the play group, but I speak to mum’s that are willing to speak to me. We have brief conversations about what we have in common: Children!
Of course I don’t try to swing the conversation around to how crap Charlton Athletic are at the moment, but then they’re not asking me what I think of their new boots either! If the conversation dwindles, we make a similar excuse about how we ‘Should be keeping an eye on our child’, and depart. Easy.
So with the benefit of hindsight, I have this advise:
If you’re a lone man in a sea of mums, don’t shy away from having a chat if a mum sparks up a conversation. She’s not from Venus! You never know, you may end up talking about something other than children.
And if you’re a mum and you spy a lone dad looking lost in a sea of mums, he’s not from Mars. Just tell him man up, stop being a wall flower and get involved, because us men are simple creatures and we sometimes need a little shove in the right direction!
Food tip of the week
Turn your boring greens into a funky dish.
Whether it’s green cabbage, savoy cabbage, sprouts, bok choy or cavolo nero, slice them up thin, dip them in boiling water for 30 seconds then chuck them in a frying pan with hot oil. Add some pine nuts or flaked almonds and chopped garlic. Fry for just a few minutes, then add some grated hard cheese just before you turn off the hob.
This makes an excellent side for all sorts of meat dishes, or you can have it as it is with a poached egg balanced on top. And you can add it to pasta and pesto for an excellent veggie dish.
It’s healthy, quick, easy and very ‘Cheffy’!
*Thursdays at 10am, Bransgore Community Church, Bransgore, Christchurch, Dorset.