Tweep Jayne Kearney (@indydreaming) posted a blog recently where she confesses her enthusiasm about playing with her children in the title: “Do I have to?”. Looking through the comments, it would seem many women agree with her. The only dissenting views – two Dads. It got me pondering.
Why? The answer is simple: Frankly, men play with kids because we don’t have puppies. By puppies I mean, of course, breasts… boobs, lady-lumps, fun bags. Yup – I put the lack of women playing with kids down to they have tits and us blokes don’t.
Of course, I’m aware evolution has left men with nipples and in the spirit of full disclosure (because if I don’t, my wife will) that I’m not the thinnest chap around and if I hunch my shoulders and lean forward, well… it ain’t pretty but I could challenge the best of you. But they don’t count. I’m talking about fully functional mammary glands. They’re the key.
See, when babies are first born one of the quickest ways to keep them quiet is breastfeeding. Crying at 2am? Latch ‘em on and silent bliss. Fell over and bumped their head? No problems. Bring out the snack wagon! And by the time they’re weaned, they still love the comforting pillow of their mother’s bosom. At all stages the motherly instinct and built in benefits handles crisis – there is no drive to play.
What have men got? Nothing. Nada. The bank vaults empty. Useless as the proverbial things on a bull. Sure, we can hang around and change a diaper or two but frankly keeping the kids quiet requires divergent thinking.
That’s where playing comes in. We’re a funny looking bunch. My wife is fond of saying I’m as funny as I am good looking (which I take to mean really, really funny). It starts off as pulling faces. Goo-goos. Anything to get a smile. It evolves into raspberries and wrestling and eventually jumping on the trampoline, digging for sea-shells on the beach and building with brightly coloured plastic blocks. The keep-baby-happy-without-breasts instinct drives us to play. Without being aware, our lack of breasts moulds our parenting experience to one setting: fun.
In fact, it’s really part of why we love ‘em. I mean, 14 year old boys aren’t looking at their classmates thinking “Those things are going to be really useful in the middle of the night fifteen years from now” but Dads get it. Those things are genius. Genius in a wonderful wrapper.
So don’t play with kids. It’s fine. Have your cups of tea and gossip with the other Mums. We’ll take care of the spuds. After all, we’ve been trained from the first day of our first child’s life to play. We love it.
So what do you think? Any theories around Dads play, Mum’s don’t?