Friday, October 05, 2007

Leaving Footprints

I like to sit in the back at Church. I liked to sit in the back at class. Occasionally I even sat in the back of class while I was teaching. I'm not keen on being the first or the last to do something. I don't wear loud colors. I don't listen to the radio in my wife's car, because the antenna is broken and if you have the radio on and turn it off it makes a very loud noise for a very long time. Whenever possible, I like to maintain a low profile.

Seren is 17 months old and doesn't give a shit about low profiles. She points at strangers. She waves at strangers. She throws stuff at strangers. She pulls things off of shelves if you foolishly let her get too close. She screams at the top of her lungs for no particular reason. Strangers walk up to her and touch her, and occasionally me. (This is one of the biggest problems with parenthood. Low profile or not, I hate it when people violate my space. Before Seren, all I had to worry about was the occasional heel stomp or shove from behind. Now people grab my arm, pinch her cheek, and pat me on the back.)

Not only is Seren a full fledged toddler, I'm a man. For whatever reason, stay at home dads are still a novelty. In my experience a stay at home dad is kind of like Siamese Twins or really hairy women. People stare, give judgemental looks, and jump to erroneous conclusions. More than once I've been told how nice it is that I'm taking a day off of work. When I enter the territory of the stay at home mom, it can be even worse. Most of the moms are nice, and many are even comfortable enough to complain about their husbands and their boobs in front of me. But it's still uncomfortable, and I am eager to do everything I can , short of shaving (When this gig starts paying benefits I'll shave), to blend in. I make sure Seren is dressed in clean and matching clothing. I periodically take my voice up an octave. I sing mainly in the alto range. I don't talk any sports. I use my child as a prop and conversational crutch just like everybody else.

Largely this strategy has worked, but Music Together Class might prove to be too big of a challenge. First of all, I have to sing. Second, with only two other parents (both women and neither of them thirty year smokers or butch lesbians), my voice stands out, even if I whisper. Third, the teacher made a point of saying that my participation was of particularly great importance because male voices are so rare in these situations. Fourth, Seren is a complete ham and loves music. Now, for the record (and off the record), I enjoy the class. I have also managed to remain rather anonymous, at least until today. I have sweaty feet. I don't wear socks in the summer. My shoes stink. Shoes have to come off at Music Together. This has worried me from day one. I have pretty ugly feet even when they're not smelly. So, I don't want to subject young children to them. After the first class I cut my nails and pulled away all of the dead skin. During the second class I got a whiff of my feet, and proceeded to keep them as far away from everybody as I could. This week, I got a whiff of my shoes before I left the house, so I sprinkled them with baby powder. OK, to be honest, I don't sprinkle baby powder. I pour it on. When I am first walking around, I kick up white clouds. It's actually a lot of fun, and Seren likes it. I made a mental note to wipe my feet off before I walked in to Music Together, but somewhere between having to wait in a long line for a slow cashier at TJ-Max and realizing I would be late and we'd miss the "Hello everybody" song that Seren loves and I was hoping she would be demonstrative and impressive during I forgot to wipe off my feet. We walked into class in the middle of Sandpiper (another of Seren's faves). When the music ended, the instructor turned to Seren and said, "your daddy has big feet." I knew instantly I was in trouble. Sure enough, a long trail of white footprints connected the scene of my late entry to the powder blot I was sitting in.

As a stay-at-home dad, I'm not very stealthy. I'm actually starting to think I might be OK with that. The view from the back is good, but good views are only fleetingly satisfying. Besides, I'm not going to even pretend that I have any say in the matter. I'm going to be leaving footprints, the bigger set, whether I like it or not.

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