A dad’s view: what happened to adult conversation?June 19, 2016
A funny thing happened to the Family Farmer a couple of weeks ago. We caught up for dinner with some friends who also have children. We had some initial “how are you’s?” and then it changed. Our successes or failures, accomplishments and challenges as individuals immediately faded into insignificance. All of the conversation ceased to be about us (the collective adult us, not me and The Mothership), but on the kids, and what they are doing, the most recent thing to have been stuffed up a nose, or in the mouth, and the latest micro achievement of the day.
I am incredibly proud of Phoebe – she can throw food around all on her own and turn a fresh nappy into a shitty one with nothing more than a scrunch of the face and a quick dip of the thighs. The Mothership is an incredibly accomplished lady and has achieved a great deal – particularly since she left the world of full time employ and embarked on a life of being self-employed. In my own way, I am pretty pleased with where I am to date, although I could probably focus more on my side business of making and selling towelling blazers for the discerning beach dweller (to date we have a prototype, a name, and lots of empty chat).
I wanted someone to ask my wife what she was up to, what was exciting in her day. It never came. I wanted someone to talk about the humanitarian crisis currently tearing its way out of the Levant, through Anatolia and into Europe. I wanted to know who thought Hilary would be a good POTUS, or at least someone to say they wanted The Donald to win the race to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave if only “just to see what happens”.
It never happened like that, and despite my efforts to turn the conversation away from our offspring, my efforts fell on deaf ears. I left feeling that I had caught up with friends without having heard their news, THE news and their views on it, or even talked about what life was like without kids – how easy it is to leave the house or go on holiday.
I long for a bit more honesty. I love my kid, but does it make me a bad parent to want to talk about something else, anything else? No.
So as it is Father’s Day, I am seizing the opportunity to draw a line in the sand. If the kid has been invited to something then she can go. If I have been invited as well, I will go only if I am actually going to be able to have a proper conversation with my peers and friends, and leave having learned a little bit more about them, their hopes and their fears, and not about how many nappies they changed or how their child has mastered the reflexive pronoun and the relative clause before she can even hold a pen. Otherwise I will just use Careem Kids and send the driver in as my proxy.
Who’s with me?