As we sat there having lunch today, I mentioned to my wife the recent story that went viral where that mother talked about why she wouldn’t let a man look after her kids. My wife hadn’t heard about it as she tends to avoid the news as best she can and focus on her business which takes up pretty much all of her waking hours these days.
Now of course that story pissed me off, but not for the reason you might think.
I can’t remember whether it was on Tuesday 21st February or Wednesday the 22nd February 2017, but knowing either of those dates is important to this story. It was on one of those days that I started what was the first draft of this post. To be honest, as I have been busy working, looking after the kids, and assisting my wife with her business which is growing faster than she can cope with, many of my posts these days get to a draft stage that’s not much more than a title and/or the opening line. For this one, it was just the title and a few words jotted down to give me and idea.
The reason why I mention this and mention those dates is because that story went viral on 24th February.
When I started this blog I used to react to all the current news stories. Whether it was about a dad killing his kids, a mother preventing her ex-partner from seeing their kids in a public case, news about the abuse of children at the hands of religious organisations, or even stories that weren’t parenting related, if I thought I should put my two cents in, I did. Basically, my blog was becoming my own private “comments section” for the whole internet.
But I decided to stop that. I decided that I didn’t want that to be the main focus of this blog. And, to that end, that’s why I was so pissed off when that story went viral because I was ready to write and publish a post about the exact opposite to what she was saying.
Now, I have to admit I haven’t read her post. I haven’t read the one originally published by the mainstream media website, I haven’t read the associated blogs or articles by other social commentary websites, and I haven’t read any other parenting blogs talking about that story. I have been a part of two discussions in Facebook groups talking about the post, but I don’t want to angry my blood so I’ve avoided the post itself.
I mentioned this to my wife. I told her that I didn’t continue to write the post and publish it because of that reason. Although she doesn’t really care about my blog and sometimes she thinks it’s just a waste of time, this time she encouraged me to continue to write it. The reason this was the case is because of a privilege that she finds herself having in this situation that hadn’t dawned on her until today.
Back on the Tuesday before that story went viral, my wife asked me if I could pick up a friend’s child from after school care that Thursday. Unfortunately both the mother and the father weren’t able to make it there that afternoon due to work commitments, so they asked my wife if she could pick up their daughter. My wife, in her typical fashion over-committed herself as she had a full diary of clients booked in for appointments from the time our friend’s child’s school finished until closing time of the after school care, but so as to not let them down, she offered my services.
She let our friends know that I would be the one to go and do the pick up, and all was good. It was at that time that I started to think or over-think this.
You see, knowing that there was no objection to me, a man picking up our friends’ daughter made me feel warm and fuzzy. It might seem trivial to some, and to others they may be even thinking that sounds icky, but what I am trying to say is, I felt privileged to have this responsibility bestowed upon me.
Whilst it wasn’t going to be the original angle I was going for when planning this post over a week ago, what you will have seen in this post is my use of the word privilege (or privileged) in two different meanings of the word.
The privilege that I felt is the one described in dictionary.com’s sixth meaning of the word.
“6. an advantage or source of pleasure granted to a person: It’s my privilege to be here.”
Even without that woman writing her viral post, because I have seen so many posts on Facebook about people being uncomfortable with a man looking after their kids, or even sitting next to their child on a plane trip, it definitely is a source of happiness when someone says “I trust you with my child.”
I have picked up a few friends’ kids from school or preschool. I have had a few kids “dumped” at our house for “us” to look after whilst I am the only parent home. Knowing that many people are weary of men looking after their kids, I know what a big deal this is.
Also, knowing that a few people, including extended family and close friends have decided to leave their kids elsewhere when my wife has agreed to look after them and it has turned out that she’s not going to be home, knowing that some people in my own extended circle don’t trust me with their kids means that those who do make my day.
Although I am someone who would treat your kid as one of my own, protecting them with my life whilst they’re in my care if it came down to it, I know that there are many who just seem me as a potential threat; someone who would take the opportunity to abuse their child if given half the chance. That hurts. It truly does. But I cannot pass judgement on another parent’s judgement when it comes to protecting their own child, so if hurting the feelings of a man is the price to pay rather than the risk of hurting the child physically or mentally, so be it.
But what about that other use of the word privilege?
As I wrote above, what my wife didn’t even think about in this situation is her privilege. The privilege that the internet has been talking about for years. The sort of privilege that white, heterosexual men have.
It’s that privilege that is dictionary.com’s number one definition;
It’s the type of privilege that people have but don’t often acknowledge they have. It’s also the sort of privilege that when people have it, they don’t think of those that are oppressed or have negativity heaped upon them because they are not afforded the same privilege.
My wife actually acknowledged this.
“Oh my God, I didn’t actually think of that when I told them you would do it. I guess I don’t have to worry about that…”
It’s true. Other mothers, or women in general aren’t thought of as child predators. But men are. That’s the privilege that women have. One of the very few (let me just acknowledge that).
Now, I’m not going to tell you that you are a bad person if you don’t trust men to look after your kids. That’s your call. You can protect your kids however you see fit. All I really wanted to say that in this post, what is a very personal story for me, and in no way inspired by that viral post, when someone asks me to look after their kids, I truly feel privileged. It is truly an honour be have your trust.
Comment, don’t comment, whatever. This topic has been done to death in the last week or so. If you want to add something, do it, if not, thanks for reading.