Juice. For the love of God, you are always supposed to bring juice.
As a new Stay at Home Dad (SAHD ) I did not know that you were supposed to bring your child’s own juice to your play dates. However, I did bring a pocket knife and a screwdriver bit. I have no idea why other than the thought that my daughter and I might have to disarm a nuclear missle, Mcgyever style.
But I did not bring juice but I wasn’t really worried because I had immersed myself in the stay at home mom crowd. These people make the boy scouts look lazy and ill prepared. Within minutes of my daughter taking off her shoes and joining the rest of the insane asylum, I was approached by no less than 3 moms asking me if I remembered to bring juice. When I said no it was like a scene from Cocktail and viola—Juice was provided. The apparently bring extra sippy cups as well. I still had my pocket knife.
So I have been doing the SAHD thing for 4 days now and have realized the most important rule that everyone learns there first week on a new job: I have no idea what I am doing. It’s that simple truth that once uttered seems to make everything ok. I haven’t the clue half the shit I should be doing and everything that I thought I would be doing has quickly been trashed. And I even asked for advice prior to starting this and I got tons of it. I have since realized that everyone lied to me. It’s easier to say that than to admit that I am an idiot.
The last new company I started, prior to becoming the chief childcare operator for the Hossman Family was with the Texas Department of Protective Services. Since I’ve quit I have also decided that I could use that name now, I rock. Hello bridge, shall we burn you down? I was very young (24) but full of energy and hair. My job was to investigate allegations of abuse to the aged and disabled. Then, like now, I had no idea what I was really doing and it did take me a while to get the swing of things.
I just used my trusty motto: Fake it Until you Make it. If you show confidence people tend to believe in what you are doing even if what you are doing is putting a jet engine on a Volkswagen Beatle. My dying wish is to make the Darwin awards one day, say when I’m about 100 or so, but I still want to be considered.
At that time I was very lucky that a more senior person took an interest in me and basically made me her toadie. She trained me in the fine art of elder abuse investigations and before long, we were partners. She taught me to not fear the crack head but to fear his dealer. She taught me how to walk into a house with authority and she taught me that there may be times when the police decide to do a drug raid right when you are in the middle of the meth lab looking for your client. That’s also when I discovered that it’s a good idea to hit the ground and stay down under Mr. Policeman says it’s cool to get up.
2 years ago she quit the job to be a stay at home mom. So it was only natural that she would want to continue my Jedi like training and indoctrinate me into the world of stay at home parents.
The one thing you have to understand about my trainer, she’s pretty in your face. But in our last line of work you kind of have to be. When a perp is charging at you screaming vulgarities you kind of need an assertive style, like not backing down but instead letting Mr. Abuser know that as a government agency we take his comments to heart and by the way, here’s your eviction papers dick monger.
So on my first week she didn’t so much as invite me to her mother’s group, she forced me to go and forced everyone to accept me. I think that they are afraid of her and honestly, I am sometimes to.
We met at a local mall where apparently kids can play for free on these playgrounds. I had no idea that these things existed but they do and they are the having of the stay at home parent. There had to be at least 50 people there with their kids. I was the only guy, but I have also decided that I am pretty ok with that, I just have to handle myself a little differently, that’s all.
Meeting the mother’s group I decided that I should let them know some very simple things. I explained that I had not been laid off, I was not trying to score a government check, I am not transgendered and no Ms. Thompson, I am not a pedophile. I explained that I was just now becoming a stay at home dad by choice and then proceeded to provide them a copy of my college diploma so that they would know that I’m not a deadbeat.
It’s a different world for SAHD’s. Since you are by yourself often and you frequent places that little children go, you get a lot of strange looks and occasionally a shake down by the coppers. But I don’t blame anyone by being intimidated by me but I also refuse to be a recluse in my house. And SAHD’s might not teach our children what mother’s teach theirs. For example, most of the kids at the playgroup knew how to do patty cake. Ok, that’s great but completely uninspired.
I called my daughter over.
“Do Tarzan” I said.
At this point she began to beat her chests with both fists and screaming. Thats when I was also able to show them a father’s pride in his daughter.
My trainer told everyone my story and I felt very lucky because these appeared to be some of the most accepting mother’s that I could have hoped for. Within 20 minutes I was invited to join the Early Childhood PTA and given several numbers for the mother’s days out program. I rock and I think t hey are hot for me as well. Score.
But then I forgot my juice and realized that I have much, much, much to learn. My trainer thought I might have this problem so she brought double of whatever she brought. It was at that point that I was thinking that maybe going into meth labs was wuss compared to the insanity that I have willingly put myself into.
My trainer is now on #1 speed dial and I usually call her a minimum of twice a day. She does not judge though and promises me that our relationship would be what it has always been—me taking her every direction and abuse and me thanking her for it.
And until I learn how to do this well, I’ll continue to fake it until I make it with my trusty pocket knife and Phillips head screwdriver.