Saturday, September 26, 2009

"I hate this place."

"I hate this place," the mom said as she joined me on a bench in the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh. "It's great for the kids," she continued, "but I get sooo bored." Her four-year-old was playing with some tools in a Bob the Builder exhibit while my three-year-old played with some Bob duplos. She'd parked her infant-toting stroller nearby.

Her statement brought two distinct reactions. First, I had to totally agree. The Children's Museum is a place of wonder for kids of a certain age. For grownups, though, it's a rather expensive way to get bored senseless. Just before Samuel's mom sat down, I'd been regretting not bringing my book in when we parked the car. Second, though, it was striking to have a mom speak to me at all as a dad out with my kid.

One definition of loneliness might be: at-home-dad takes his kids into the realm of the at-home-moms. They all talk to each other; they often come in pairs or packs; and they do not talk to me. On the one hand, I guess I understand this. Our culture accepts at-home motherhood more readily than at-home parenthood. Also, men are pigs and may take civil conversation as a sign of something more than that.

On the other hand, let's think this through. Doesn't the fact that I stay at home with my kid point to something? Doesn't it point to a certain enlightenment and respect for women and, well, uncreepiness? Don't I have more in common - especially on days when we're both counting minutes on a Children's Museum visit - with those moms than with their husbands?

I try to go out with my dad pal when I can so that I have someone to talk to in the few moments that don't require vigilance when out with a pre-schooler in public. But, hey moms, if you see a dad out there in the diaper bag trenches with you, throw him a bone. Talk about the weather or the price of diapers or how much you hate some of the things your kids love. He'll be grateful for the acknowledgment that you've got a lot in common.

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