Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Papa's Got A Brand New Bag

Recently my sister-in-law was visiting from England with her new baby. She wanted to introduce him to his great-grandmother out of town. My wife offered to drive her out there and decided to take our kids along with them. As I have yet to succumb to the degeneracy of a minivan, there was no room for me on the ride. Much as I love my grandmother-in-law (and I do, she's a real inspirational firecracker of a lady at 95 (or something - actually after 90 I think we can all stop counting until you reach 100)), I was not sorry to have the house to myself on a sunny summer day.

As they descended from upstairs I presented them with snacks for the drive up (and back). Travelling with boys any distance is like what I imagine travelling with panthers is like - they require constant feeding in order to prevent them from shredding the upholstery and gnawing on each other or on you. It doesn't seem to matter how much or how recently they have eaten - once we hit the highway one is guaranteed to demand food - like that carnivorous plant from Little Shop of Horrors "Feed me, Daddy." And so I toss food over my shoulder into the backseat at regular intervals.

But back at the house, I handed over the tucker bag and my sister-in-law was shocked into immobilty.

"What's this?" she asked. "Snacks for the trip (and back)." I explained the boy/food dynamic.

My wife oh so casually mentioned that I do stuff like this all the time. My sister-in-law got hung up on the facts that: 1) I did it; 2) Without Being Asked; and 3)Without even being part of the trip. It didn't exactly bother her that I did this but it certainly bewildered her. It's like finding out your friend's (or worse apparently, your sister's) coffee maker can actually turn into a motorscooter fueled on coffee grounds like some sort of Batdevice. "You mean men can actually DO this?" Simple bewilderment moves quickly to pleasure ("That's cool") but unfortunately then often moves to and is stuck in anger/resentment ("How come mine doesn't do that? Well, things will soon be changing in my house!") So, sorry guys, the secret is out: Men are competent.

I may be vilified for this, but I'm no Quisling appeaser. There is a method to my madness - they left sooner. Also, my wife and children were pleased with me. And I was left to my own devices. Can this result be improved upon? I think not. While I understand the whole "Creating low expectations so that nothing is expected of you" method adopted by many men this is ultimately self-defeating. You become expendable and thus - many men are expended. Now that work, sports and literature are rightfully worlds when men and women can compete, many men are left wondering who they are. The ultimate worth of a man is that he is useful and can be relied upon to look after himself and those he cares for. No one really expects you to hunt your own food anymore but the least you can do is make some PB&Js for the road without being asked.

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