Demanding Daddy cuddles
I was quietly sitting on a train. Across from me was a buggy. I could just see it through the legs of the many squashed travelers. A little voice caught my attention.
- Cuddle Daddy, cuddle me Daddy.
I thought ‘ how sweet’, ‘I wonder if Daddy will respond.
Things are not what they seem to be
At the next station many of the legs got out. I could now see ‘Daddy’ bent down giving a cuddle to a happy face. As Daddy stood up Daddy was evidently a Mummy.
Mummy goes to work or is it Daddy?
This reminded me of when my daughter was 2 years old. I was working full time in Westminster. On one Friday afternoon I had agreed with my partner that he should come up and meet me from work with our daughter. We would have an outing together.
Daddy outmanoeuvred by Mummy
They arrived a little early. My husband had been directed to the main office where I was speaking to one of my staff. As he wheeled her in she caught sight of me. She threw up her arms and shouted ‘Daddy Daddy cuddle’.
Everyone laughed except her Dad who looked a little hurt and emasculated.
Gendered ideas in place
Knowing me and always calling me Mummy at home why had she made this change when she saw me at work?
We feared that already she subconsciously understood that certain settings were ‘male’ and others ‘female’. We wondered if she would call her Dad, ‘Mummy’ at home. But it never happened.
Falling back into Mummy mode
The added sting to that afternoon happened after we set off to shop on our way to the Southbank. We stopped in a Body Shop store. I looked at some bath treats and we left. I was not pushing the buggy.
In the next store some way down the road I felt a cold chill run over me. Where was my briefcase? I had it with me when I left the office.
- We have to go back, I think I have left my briefcase in the Body Shop. I raced ahead.
Mummy in trouble with police
I did not get very close to the Body Shop. It was cordoned off. I asked a police officer what was going on.
- Madam we have an item which the bomb squad are preparing to blow up.
This was the era of the IRA bombings in London. I reddened
- Is it a briefcase?
- Yes Madam
- I think it is mine. I left it there by mistake, I ‘m really sorry.
- Madam, this is a very serious matter. You are putting people in danger and wasting police time.
- I didn’t mean to, I was pushing the buggy, I meekly said.
My husband had reached me with our daughter
I just forgot I had been working. I had gone into ‘Mummy mode’ and left it on the shop floor.
The officer went into the shop and reappeared with the briefcase. I was told to take more care. I agreed and apologised profusely. My husband contained his laughter until we turned a corner. I felt too embarrassed to do anything other than feel glad it was over.
- Roles can be very confusing for adults and even more for children
- Early clues that situations are gendered should trigger chats about what men and women can and do do.
- Gendering starts at a very young age indeed