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‘Daddy solidarity’

November 25, 2009

Just what is “Daddy Solidarity”?  I found myself thinking about this when confronted with the phrase recently.

I had taken my son to a toddler singing group. The term should be used loosely as it is generally the parents feeling liberated to sing songs, clap hands, bang on the floor etc. – whilst the kids run around the room.

Image from

Mothers & babies: An intimidating sight for any Dad!

This was on another of my all too rare (and fleeting) Monday’s off – my Daddy Day-Care-Day as I’ve mentioned in previous posts.

Now I’m used to the fact that on a weekday, with a child I’m a rarity.  Much as we like to think about what a modern country we are (and we’re getting there) Mums still outnumber Dad’s on the toddler-social-scene – and I like to think I live in a particularly ‘right on’ (think Guardian-reading) area.

So, at this singing group I was one of two Dad’s.  The other Dad was a belting stereo-type of the aforementioned Guardian reader – bearded and wearing what I’d bet my life  was a shabby-chic, Oxfam bought jumper.  However, we’d exchanged the faint nod of recognition that, of those above the age of three – we were the solitary representatives of our gender.

The ‘group leader’ – we’ll call her Vera – noticed this and gleefully announced to the group: “At least we’ve got a bit of Daddy-solidarity today.”

Polite laughter and smiles all-round – but I was slightly put out by this.  It was as if it was prejudged I’d be incapable of having solidarity with some mothers.

I know, I know – from Mars & Venus and all that but since the arrival of my son I’m quite good with mothers – one even lives in my house.  Heck, I grew up with another one!

It wasn’t meant as an affront – perhaps I’m too sensitive.

Stubbornness & cold stares

If I am its only because of scarring, still raw from my first foray onto the toddler social scene.

My son (now nearing two) hadn’t even reached his first birthday at this point.  Poor lamb was suffering terribly from teething pains but ignorant of the world-stopping power of teething I’d gone ahead and at my wife’s insistence, taken him to a play group style event at a nearby village hall-style venue.

My son was already in a dangerously fragile mood when we arrived.  The sight of a room-full of strangers, singing, shouting and general toddler mayhem (which he’s a more than noisy part of now) tipped him over the edge.

Image from

This t-shirt sums-up my son's feelings!

I’d lost him from that point already – but it was the patronising looks and pity-filled stares that made the stubborn arse in me blunder on.

The room was full of mothers (I was the only Dad on this occasion – a far more frequent occurence) and I could see it on all their faces: “Oh – he probably never looks after his son – doesn’t know what he’s doing.  No wonder the baby’s crying.”

I tried everything: toys; cajoling; cuddles; talking; reassuring; milk; in the pushchair; out of the pushchair; in a quiet room etc. etc.  (parents will be familiar with the plethora of options one comes up with when trying to soothe a crying child!)

None of it worked.  Of course it didn’t – my poor son was in pain from his teeth and I should have taken him home to bed.  I did in the end and Calpol’ed up he slept for an eternity.

There wasn’t much solidarity that day though – Daddy or otherwise.


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