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What Did You Do?!

Posted by on May 10, 2009

I had a rather irritating and insulting experience this afternoon and wonder how many other dads have had similar experiences.

I went to the grocery store to buy ingredients for my wife’s Mothers Day dinner. Since the store is just a block or so down the street and I only needed a few items, I took Alex and used his stroller as a cart. Taking him also gave Mommy time to relax by herself.

Shortly after arriving, Alex started to have a meltdown. He’d been fed and changed before we left, so he was most likely tired. Not good. Alex’s generally a pretty happy and sociable baby, but when he’s tired he can be a little demon. So there I am with a screaming 8-month-old in the middle of a grocery store and still needing to pruchase several items. Thankfully, I’ve gotten fairly good at holding him in one arm and doing other things with the other, so that’s what I did. Once I picked him up he calmed down. That worked just fine until I had to go through the check-out. For that I had to put him back in the stroller. Uh-oh. This greatly displeased him and no doubt half the store could hear him screaming bloody murder. I tried to check out as quickly as possible so as to keep the embarrassing attraction of attention to a minimum. Once we were making forward progress again, he mercifully relentented.

By now you might be wondering what was so irritating and insulting. Well, it was simply that both times Alex melted down I got odd looks from customers like I had abused my child and comments from employees asking, “What did you do?!”

Excuse me?! What did I do?! I’d bet dollars to donuts that a mother wouldn’t have been asked that question. Instead, she’d hear something like, “Aww…What’s wrong with the little guy?” Apparently, having a Y chromosome makes me a meany, an idiot, or both.

What the hell? Why must Mr. Grumpy Pants’s fit be my fault just because I’m not Mommy?Am I overreacting? Am I imagining the sexism? Have I been reading too many daddy books and blogs? Can someone enlighten me?