Are men who go to playgroups losers?

Posted Monday 11th March 2013   By Ericka Waller

So I go to this playgroup on a Thursday that is frequented by a few “Jamies” (stay-at-home-dads). If I’m honest, when I first started going, I thought they were a load of losers.

So stuck was I in my ‘men do work, get pennies while woman make house and babies lovely-nice’ as I was, I could not bend my head around the idea of a man being able to do the HARDEST JOB IN THE WORLD EVER.

(Definition of HARDEST JOB IN WHOLE WORLD EVER = Staying home with the children full time, sacrificing all career, time-to-self, social-life and ‘nipping anywhere quickly’ opportunities forever more).

I searched for things that backed up my view of these men. Ha! Look how mismatched their children’s clothes are. Why his daughter's (inside-out) skirt is not even ironed! And see how they tidy up so badly. The wooden bananas have been put in with shape sorters. The playdough lids are not correspondent to the playdoh within.

When one of them put a plastic hammer in with the dolls, I began to seriously worry about the mental-health of the women who left these goons in charge of their kids.

But then I started noticing little things.  The way they wiped their children’s snot off so gently with their sleeves.  The way they waited until they were sure their kids had finished their snack before they ate all the remnants (in one large gulp YUMP!) Their eagerness to help fold tables and put trikes back in the shed. (I am STILL man, hear me roar.) The depth their baritones added to 'I am the music man' in singing.

And I also noticed the way they engaged with their kids. Not huddled together in groups either side of the room, talking about one another or their child’s dull achievements - but sat beside their kids, faithfully making towers, or drawing cards for mummies who were busy ‘at work’.

I realised what a fool I had been.

Now, like a rebel at school, I hang out with the boys. We talk about whoever it was that badly glued the train set to a lump of hardboard, and their lack of civil engineering skills.
We race one another to see who can stack the most chairs the fastest and put them away (without knocking over any children) or who can swing their child the highest in the hockey-kokey.

We don’t talk about reading books or speech development or potty training. We don’t moan about our weight. We don’t talk about the housework waiting, with its jaws open, for us at home.

Of course there are moments when having men there is annoying. Like when I’ve been for a coil check-up and want to discuss the length of my cervix (what is normal?), or when someone asks me how my piles are.

But mostly, I welcome the invasion into a mostly female dominated space. I wish they would take the tidying up more seriously, but they can only do one thing at once. Poor simple fools.

* Jamie is an ACE SAHM dad and owner of onemanandaweebairn blog