When last we convened, I shared my thoughts about a couple of moms who I felt had stepped over lines of decorum during recent interactions with me. Since that time, I've been especially worried that the first of those moms, whose gaffe of asking for a play date prematurely was much more understandable and innocent than the Germanic mom's ulcer-inducing suggestions on the potty training front, would stumble upon my post, put two and two together, and decide she had no choice but to pick up and move to Fresno. I guess I left the post as it was in the hope that if she did happen to see it, she'd be able to have a sense of humor about herself. Besides, I figured I'd go on to new topics, and mom craziness would recede into the archives of this blog.
Alas, little did I know I'd have an exchange that would take the whole "When Moms Attack" thing to a new level, especially given that the first two moms didn't exactly attack as much as say the wrong things. This latest mom? Well, she really did attack.
Let me take you to the scene last Thursday morning at the kinder gym again (what is it about that place!?), where I was being my typically spastic, out-of-control self. I should make it clear that when it comes to playing, I'm most definitely not a mom, and I have the penis to prove it. So when I go to the kinder gym (this session is NOT called "baby gym" for a reason, as it's supposed to be for 2- to 4-year-olds), I go to play. Not watch the kids play, but actually play. This has resulted in my forming pretty close (and sometimes physical) relationships with several of the regulars. And when I say regulars, I'm talking about the kids, not the moms. (Ba dum, bum.)
The way this behavior manifests itself is as follows: Two kids in particular, both at the older end of the 2-to-4 spectrum, like to assume superhero personas. One actually shows up in a Batman shirt and cape, while the second simply has the woman who staffs the session write "Spiderman" on his name tag. Naturally, this role-playing has resulted in my referring to them, unexpected as it may seem, as Batman and Spiderman. Naturally, I feel obligated to assume the role of the Joker or Green Goblin or whatever fictional villain I want to be, and I chase the boys around, gently tackling them, softly throwing large, padded nylon blocks at them, and generally causing chaos. (Max typically hangs at the periphery of the insanity, avoiding the real rough housing and instead diving in when things are a bit more mellow. He clearly gets a bit jealous of Daddy playing with other kids--it's kind of adorable.)
Sarah witnessed this scene a couple of months ago, and has since warned me that she thought I'd end up making some of the moms uneasy. No one who knows me well will be surprised that this input only emboldened me, as I think the one thing some moms need more than anything is to be made uneasy. So I'm an instigator--sue me.
Back to last Thursday. It was a particularly energetic day because my recent visits have been hampered by a series of ailments--gout (don't ask), strep throat, and a bout of the flu--that rendered me too listless to exert myself. (Mind you, before someone points it out, I didn't actually go to the kinder gym while contagious with strep or actually suffering the flu--I was there during the recovery periods.) In other words, the fact I was healthy and energetic was a cause for serious celebration (and extra exuberant play) among the boys. We were running all over the room, and all the kids who weren't playing with us were taking great interest. Some of them probably even tried their luck at throwing those cushiony blocks.
This is when the mom in question walks up to me and, gesturing me to the side of the room, says, "Can we talk for a minute?"
A bit of background about this woman might help: she is apparently a long time sporadic attendee of these sessions, but I had seen her for the first time just a month or two earlier. I remember it because this mom, who is youngish, and reasonably attractive (but presents herself as a very uptight, librarianesque figure) showed up that day in a sun dress that brought a lot of attention to her admittedly spectacular breasts. And those breasts were a constant that day, not just because I'm a man and thus biologically predisposed to gawking at spectacular breasts, but because her cleavage was so apparent and pronounced that a few of the other moms rolled their eyes with what can only be described as a combination of disgust and envy.
This mom was also memorable because she brought both of her kids--one who's nearly 4, and a second that's about 9 months--to the kinder gym. Totally understandable, but also an action that should be accompanied by a certain awareness that you're plopping your 9-month-old down in a room filled with crazed toddlers, introducing all sorts of potential risk.
So when this mom pulled me aside, I was braced for a scolding, but I expected it to be civil, along the lines of "I know you're a dad and so you like to play a little rough, and I think that's great, and it's obvious the kids love it, but I'd sure appreciate it if you could pull back just a bit because I'm concerned your exuberance might lead to someone's child getting hurt." And that would have been a completely reasonable request.
Instead, however, this is what she said: "Y'know, we're trying to raise our sons more like daughters now and teaching them to be more sensitive and respectful, and when you teach them to throw and hit, they're just gonna grow up to be dickheads. So do you think you could dial it down a bit?"
Being the people pleaser I am, I responded with a humble "Okay, I understand," and that was that. Except that I felt parentally castrated. It was as if I'd been given a timeout for excessive playing, and I spent the rest of the session sitting on my hands and telling all the kids--who came up constantly asking me to play--that I had to take a break because one of the mommies felt I was playing too rough.
I did have one key (albeit silent) supporter, though: Batman's mom. She always sits on the side, laughing heartily at my "abuse" of her kid and always putting me at ease when I think I may be going overboard. You gotta respect a mom who embraces rough male play. She thought the other mom was out line, and said she's always been kind of uptight about things that make her uncomfortable at the kinder gym.
What I wish I'd said to the big-breasted mom when she confronted me was this: "So if I understand correctly, you're concerned that by pretending to be the villain to their superheros and running around playing with little boys exactly as they love to be played with, and admittedly risking collisions with other little ones who no doubt would recover as all toddlers do, I'm somehow increasing the likelihood that these kids will end up beating their wives and kids? Because if that's what you're suggesting, I gotta say you're fucking nuts."
By the way, not only does this woman need to think twice about bringing her 9-month-old to a toddler play session if she's all worried about incidents, but she also needs to acknowledge that her older kid--who has repeatedly (and innocently) thrown hard objects at me when all the other kids seem to understand that they need to limit their throwing to those soft cushiony blocks--already has a throwing problem and is thus well on his way to becoming a dickhead with or without my influence.
I guess the moral of the story is this: If you want someone to train your son to be a dickhead, I'm your man.
Or maybe it's this: Moms with spectacular cleavage who bring their babies to toddler play sessions and have toddlers who throw to injure should probably look inward before holding innocent dads responsible for the worst instincts in men. On second thought, that's kinda wordy. Lets stick with the first moral.