Expat Dad: As good as Expat Mum – just smelly

Expat Dad: Our regular ‘parent in Shanghai’ columnist, freely offering what Dads love to give – advice, warnings, guidance and general lessons in life!

For a while I considered taking my daughter out of nursery for a few months, before we actually did it. I work from home so I spend most of the time with her anyway, aside the several hours between taking her to nursery and picking her up again. There would be great plus sides: no need for a frantic morning dash to get her ready and prepare myself for the horrors of the outside world – or rather present myself in an acceptable manner, to spare the rest of the world from the horror of seeing my ‘morning look’.

But were there negatives in us spending more time together? How would I co-ordinate my day ‘working from home’ without playing 5 hours of X-Box? (I shouldn’t have said that) How would we co-ordinate my wife’s hour-long sneak-home so we can play with each other on her lunch break? (I definitely shouldn’t have said that) Would there be downsides?

So far, it seems not. At 3 and three quarters old, my crazy one and I are the best of friends; she finds all my jokes funny, while I am guaranteed endless entertainment from the unscripted toy-animal theatre that is a non-stop sofa-based show.

But back to co-ordination. How do mothers do it? They’re sitting in bed with a hot coffee at 6am, wide-eyed and ready to simply be efficient and achieve things for the next 18 hours. I’m still pouring coco pops at 9, at 10 I’m only slightly rousing myself out of a daze while I pick my nose and stare at the computer screen – with only one of us in the house not wafting out man-BO, and it isn’t me. Nevertheless, we eventually make it out of the house before 12, to whichever playground takes our fancy.

At the playground, the mothers are all sitting at the side – in a well-organized fashion – with splendidly conditioned hair, clean faces, stainless outfits and good posture, while I’m still half-comatose, un-showered, hairy as an unkempt baboon, and having to hastily pull up ill-fitting trousers every five seconds.

There is certainly some irrational mis-understanding of ‘the full time Dad’, from full time mothers. If they treated me with fear at the gym, for example; thinking I’m staring at them, I’d understand (I’m not, I’m just spaced out by the exertion). If they feared me at a bar, think I’m staring at them, I’d understand (I’m not, I just rarely go to bars so I’m spaced out by the bright lights and high beer prices).

But with my child? At the playground? I’m just as happy to politely chit-chat with fellow parents as they are – I’m not going to jump on them! So why ostracize me? Why demonize me? WHY KEEP SUCH A DISTANCE?!

Oh, wait. It’s because I stink. Shower tomorrow.


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Categories: Expat Life


Foreigner in Shanghai


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  1. Expat Dad: The second child | Developing City - October 19, 2012

    […] Go and find other parents then, maybe? I’ve made attempts at this – unsuccessfully. […]

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