I am born in April. Not April 1st like one of my high school friends believes (she’s been wishing me happy birthday on the first day of April since the ninth grade), but later in the month. But I have always loved her somewhat facetious joke; after all, I AM born in April and truly, I AM a fool. And I love fooling.
This morning I wrote a status on my wife’s Facebook page about her being pregnant with baby number three and I shared her status that “she” tagged me in on my private Facebook page. For many they rejoiced, a few asked if it was an April Fool’s Day prank, and then through Facebook Messenger this was shared by a mutual friend to my wife and I.
Our first child was born in 2008. I felt it too soon to announce a fake pregnancy back in 2009 only a few months after his birth but I kept it in mind for the following year. So on April 1st 2010 I shared this.
I had two likes and 11 comments that year. Most were to say congratulations until one of my wife’s cousins worked out that it was an April Fool’s Joke and the jig was up. The following year, in 2011 she was pregnant for real with our second child so I couldn’t use that but in 2012 I tried it again.
This time more likes and still 11 comments. This time one of my wife’s friends worked it out early in the day and it was followed up straight away by that same cousin who sprung me the first time agreeing with that call for it being a prank. But there was no nasty comments, just people realising that it was merely a prank. The last two comments that year were from one of my cousins followed by a response from me;
My cousin “Were you really joking….oh”
The following year I decided it was old hat so I didn’t do it, rather I mentioned that I was leaving my post as a left leaning political voter and changing to vote with the right. And then this was posted on my wall by a friend tagging in my wife;
Wow. I wasn’t expecting that. I didn’t realise my fake pregnancy announcement had become an annual expectation from a friend, but she really likes my sense of humour so it stands to reason that she’d write this. So keeping that in mind, this morning I walked into my office and seeing that my wife’s Facebook page was open on my desktop, I decided the prank had to be via her page to seem more authentic.
And so that I could be “in” on the joke, and also to bolster that authentication, I shared it;
At the same time, unbeknownst to me, another friend from high school shared this on her own Facebook page;
She too had people liking the fact that she announced a pregnancy, but alas, it too was fake. And on her status update a conversation was had rather than the discussion that was being had on my wife’s page and my own. She caved in pretty early announcing it was an April Fool’s Day prank after someone called her on it. And the conversation that ensued was from some of our other high school friends, one of which stated that she felt clucky reading it.
I raised the topic of April Fool’s Day pranks in my Dad Blogger’s group this morning. One of the other dad bloggers liked my comment about fooling the same people over the last five years; funny enough, that cousin of my wife’s who busted me twice actually fell for it this time, but seeing she’s just had a baby herself, I’m sure that she would be wanting to share in our joy rather than think of it being a prank.
But then another of my fellow dad bloggers didn’t take to it very warmly.
“Fake pregnancy? Sorry Darrell, I have a bug up my ass about that. It’s just not cool, especially for people who struggle to get pregnant or flat out can’t get pregnant.”
It’s true. It’s not cool. It’s not cool if I have upset someone by this. You see, I love to joke around and when I do, it is not with the intent to ever hurt anyone, but to make them laugh. And I know that my sense of humour is not to everyone’s liking. Being a cynic, an atheist, a sceptic and all those other non-believer and non-conspiracy theorist type of things I can see the humorist side of everything. I am not a look back and laugh person, I am a joke about it now. For me there is no need for the hashtag #toosoon as it’s never too soon. Well, at least I was…
Back in June 2013 when I was writing my now defunct blog The Squircle (that was a general blog, not a parenting based one like this) I was doing some research on a topic to do with raising children. My best mate’s wife was one of my first ports of call and we had a lovely chat one night that lasted almost two hours.
During the conversation she dropped a bombshell on me. Now this is not her direct quote because I didn’t record our conversation, but she mentioned something along these lines;
“You know all those anti-Christian comics and memes you share on Facebook? We (her husband, my best mate that is) find them to be offensive. It is like you are trying to tell us that you are better than us or that we deserve to be the butt of these jokes. We are both believers in God and Jesus and we’ve baptised our kids accordingly as well as sending them to a Catholic school, and it hurts us to think that you think less of us because of this…”
I hadn’t thought of that. I have plenty of non-religious, agnostic, Atheist or the like friends who shared many of these memes on their pages and I shared their shares, and vice versa. We were all one big happy dumb group of people being holier than thou and self-righteous, all claiming our moral superiority to believers without thinking about how we were hurting their feelings.
Look, it doesn’t matter if you hurt the feelings of those Westboro Baptist Church nutjobs, even the Pope would be sharing memes about their ridiculous antics, I’m sure. But to hurt those who are believers because they were born into a religious family and are not out to hurt others by being racist, or prejudice or casting aspersions, then that is not cool. So as of mid June 2013, I stopped sharing them. In fact, by July 2013 I was writing my end-of-financial-year New Year’s Resolutions and wrote a blog post about it on The Squircle where I suggested one of my resolutions would be to stop;
Being a Pro-Active Atheist…. …I don’t have the time to invest in this and I am having too much fun with my religious friends and networking with believers and coming together for the greater good of the community.
It was around this time that I started Modern Father Online and then joined the (International) Dad Bloggers group where amongst other things, religion, politics, money and sex were regular topics up for discussion. I put my feeling forward about being an Atheist but was mindful about hurting the feeling of others. Recently I made a joke at the expense of followers of the Mormon faith but it was not about the faith itself, just the (what I believe to be) silly under garments that the followers wear.
One of our fellow Dad Bloggers who “came out” as a member of the Church of the Latter Day Saints (or LDS) wrote this comment;
“I haven’t broadcast my Mormon background in this group because it’s felt mostly like my views wouldn’t be welcome here, shots on our special underwear and all. But mostly I’ve heard my Dad Blogger brothers support…“
You don’t need to know the end of that comment because it forms part of a private conversation that we had, but you can see that he was not so offended by the underwear joke. But he was offended by a remark about the LDS being an anagram of LSD. I wrote this in response to him;
“Now I feel bad and remorseful. Oh, and everyone’s views are welcome here. And we may take shots at things (believe it or not sometimes my inferiority complex that us Aussies bear when dealing with the world kicks in when Australian jokes are made at my expense) but if I look and see how many positive comments I get, I know it’s not personal, so all is good.“
And he responded with;
“Great comment Darrell Milton. The boys here are some of the best and most supportive I’ve met to date (magic underwear and penis jokes included). So many other venues resort to, “YEAH?!? Well,….you’re ugly!!!'”
Now he doesn’t speak on behalf of every Mormon, and any member of the LDS that is still offended by people who make fun of their special underwear have the right to be offended if they want to be. Everyone has the right to take anything personal.
I do it. My article I wrote entitled “Dear Mums, Please Talk to Your Husbands” which is currently my most read post explains how I feel offended by those memes that mothers share on Facebook. You know, the “how great are mothers, and how crap are fathers” memes? One’s like this;
That’s not offensive? Try telling that to the dad that I spoke to the other day who doesn’t get to see his kids any more because his ex-wife has run away with his kids and has gone to court with the claim that he doesn’t deserve to see them. Or try telling that to this dad;
You see everything is offensive to those who are offended by it. It is offensive to those who have had hardship. It is offensive to those who have felt the pain. It is offensive to those who are close to others who have the right to be offended.
But I had plenty of mums tell me that I have no right to be offended by these memes. I have plenty of mums say that I am making mountains out of molehills. But when the meme posted below gets shared and you’re a father, how is that supposed to make you feel?
Dad, sorry, but you’re replaceable, but your children’s mother isn’t. Fuck you meme maker. Fuck you meme sharer. Seriously. Fuck you. I AM OFFENDED.
I apologised to my fellow Dad Blogger who was offended by my April Fool’s Day prank. And he wrote back;
“You’re not a bad guy or mean-spirited. Hell, I joked like that before I knew what it was like to lose pregnancies and struggle to conceive. You can’t know until you’ve been through it or around people struggling with it.”
Earlier in our discussion I wrote;
“It’s tough being mindful of everyone’s feelings but I will have to try harder. My goal in life is never to be a prick per se and last year I had a huge wake up call or epiphany if you will and that changed the way I dealt with certain groups of people. Even though I am 2 weeks from turning 40 I still have a lot to learn. What’s funny, what’s not. What’s hurtful, what’s not. My intent was not to hurt people’s feelings but I can see how this was a bad judgement call on my behalf.”
So that’s it. No more fake pregnancy pranks. I’m done with hurting those who felt hurt. It wasn’t my intent. My intent was to excite those who have been in the ear of my wife and I to have that third child even though I for one am happy to stop at two.
My intent was to have that friend who missed me skipping a year enjoy a laugh. But not at the expense of anyone. That was never my intent.
But as I said, I am still learning. I will make bad judgement calls in the future, I know it. I am not perfect. I am human. I will try not to offend.
I have stopped being so much of a member of the Grammar Police that I once was. What’s the point in picking up people’s mistakes on social media when many are typing on little buttons on their phones? Sure some are just bad spellers, but if they get their point across, let them be. They’re not my kids, so I can’t educate everyone. Besides, I made a spelling mistake the other day whilst talking about being a self-proclaimed grammar expert. Egg, meet Darrell’s face…
I guess the best way to finish this off to to offer me sincerest apology if I did offend you with that prank on my wife’s Facebook page today. I didn’t mean to hurt you.
BUT, now you have to pay it forward. No more sharing jokes about Justin Beiber as Beleibers might get offended. No more sharing memes about George W. Bush as Republicans who supported him might be offended. No more sharing jokes about Tony Abbott. Or Julia Gillard. Or Kevin Rudd. Or even Clive Palmer.
No more, no more, no more. We need to be mindful of everyone’s feelings. Or maybe not. Let’s continue to have humour and know that sometimes it can be offensive to some.
So mums, go on, share those memes if it means that you feel better about being the only one who gets things done in your household, and it’s better than kicking your husband to the kerb.
I’ll still be offended…
So, what do you find offensive that others might not and when they tell jokes or share memes about this, you cringe and want to throttle them?