Last week I was sat having a cup of coffee whilst the girls were at their ballet class. I was partaking in my favourite pastime... people watching. I am incredibly nosy. I do my best to come across as someone who sits quietly minding my own business but really I'm just trying to get some peace and quiet so I can watch everyone. So whilst I am sat there a woman comes in and greats a man sat at a table by loudly saying "Hi Daddy Daycare!". She then continued to chat to the man in a very quiet voice which I found most inconsiderate.
But my ears pricked up when I heard another woman join the conversation. "I think it is ridiculous that you make such a big thing about him looking after the children. All this 'Daddy Daycare' stuff. There is no reason that a man looking after his children should be any different from a woman." "Ha ha" laughed the first woman "Well maybe, but a man looking after two girls isn't normal. It can't be much fun just having girls to look after. I can imagine there are other places you would rather be." The dad smiled and nodded. I couldn't work out if he agreed or was simply being polite.
This is something I have heard many times before. When people hear I have two girls they say something along the lines of "Oh, would you like to try for a boy?" or "Thats a shame, it would have been nice to have one of each." I have no idea why people say this. Firstly why they actually think it but secondly why even if they think it that they think it's appropriate to voice these concerns to me. What are they expecting me to say? "Yes, Iris is a bit of a disappointment. I can tolerate her on the good days but really I just stare at her and wish she was a boy." It's ridiculous. At no point since knowing Carolyn was having another girl have I ever wished she wasn't. And if we were to have another child it genuinely doesn't matter whether it's a girl or a boy.
People sometimes say "I'll bet you would rather be watching a boy play football than hanging around waiting for a ballet class to finish." Nope, I wouldn't. I want to watch my girls having fun, learning, doing something they enjoy. I don't really care what it is. They are in a beginners ballet class... I'm not expecting The Nutcracker. I just want to see them happy and engaged. And I don't see that it matters what sex I am. If anything of all the parents I am the one who creeps up trying to look through the glass in the door to see what they are doing without distracting them. And if you think I would be happier watching football then you have obviously never watched young boys play football. It might be the most frustrating thing to watch ever. Plus ballet only happens inside nice warm buildings whilst football happens outside in the cold and rain.
Both the girls are quite in to princesses and other stereotypically 'girly' things. And that's ok. I didn't know a lot about Disney princesses before I had children but I certainly do now. I can't say that watching Sleeping Beauty is the most interesting way to spend an afternoon but stick on Aladdin and I'm happy. Would I rather be watching Ben 10 or Tree Fu Tom? Not really. Does it make a difference to me that Anna likes me to join in playing Barbies rather than a little boy asking me to join in an play Action Men (do they still have Action Men?!)? No. I quite enjoy playing Barbies with Anna. I like putting on different accents for each one, I like using her Barbie house so the Barbies can do poos and I find it amusing that the Barbie's bums stick out the back of their dresses because I bought them cheap off eBay. What more could I want?
There are of course other things I have had to learn about, things that I wouldn't have ever had to think about with boys. I haven't brushed my own hair in fifteen years let alone someone else's, so sorting the kids out was initially a challenge. I can cope with the girls hair just fine. What I struggle with is the wriggling, whining child it is attached to. I have mastered pony tails and bunches. I did my first bun this week; I took a photo of it because I was so pleased with myself. It fell out an hour later. Choosing clothes is another challenge. What goes with what? I can barely dress myself. Luckily most days Carolyn leaves their clothes out the night before. When I dress them it looks like they have been dressed by a blind amputee. Even when I manage to pick clothes out I don't know how they work. It isn't uncommon for Carolyn to come home and ask me why Anna's dress is on backwards or why Iris is wearing one of Anna's t-shirts as a dress. And of course it isn't just clothes it is the accessories too. Iris' first words to me when I came downstairs yesterday morning were "Daddy I can't find my heals." She is two years old. I have a lot more of this to come. Anna's love of hair and make up has already got me into trouble. We were queuing up at her pre-school a few months ago when she saw her teacher inside. "Look Daddy, Miss has had her hair cut. It's nice isn't it?" "Yes Anna." And she is wearing lovely red lipstick." "Uh huh." "I think she looks pretty Daddy." "Yes Anna." A few minutes later we were let in the door "Hi Miss! My Daddy likes your hair and lipstick and thinks you look pretty!" What?! How did this happen?! A minute ago I was humouring my daughter in an inane conversation and suddenly she has made me look like a pervy dad. I didn't know what to say. I hovered for a minute, mumbled something and ran away. Thinking about it a little boy wouldn't have done that to me!
But actually they aren't always that girly. Their current favourite programmes are He-Man: Masters of The Universe (The early 80s version not the 2000s remake) and She-Ra. This evening before bed they were running up the stairs each shouting their lines "By the honour of Grey Skull! I am She-Ra" and "By the power of Grey Skull. I have the power!" Anna is always She-Ra (she is a princess after all) whilst Iris plays the role of He-Man. They love it. They charge around, fighting Skeletor and rescuing each other. They couldn't be happier. And nor could I.
When it comes down to it children are children. It doesn't matter if they are boys or girls. The thought of wishing my girls were something else is absurd.
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