Monday, June 27, 2005

The Dad Who Doesn't Get It

So I've had some coffee and some time to really wake up today. I was chatting with a friend on the phone and telling her about the birthday party we attended yesterday. She has a couple of daughters and this party was for a BOY - no girls allowed, apparently, despite the fact that the moms are all friends.

The friends I hang with are all SAHM's and we do stuff with the kids, mostly. That's our primary social interaction. Daytime stuff to keep the kids occupied and let us interract with other adults. It's all good. But as a result, most of us aren't too familiar with each other's spouses beyond forming the impressions one does when one hears about a person. Y'know, one of us will either bitch about or brag about something our husband recently did, and that tidbit gets noted and added to the overall impression you get of that spouse. We don't get our entire families together all that often, if at all. We'll have Moms Nite Out or something, but usually the husbands aren't interracting with this group of lady friends.

The husband of my friend who had this birthday party was, of course, present at the party (unlike Mr. Chick, who sadly had to miss Nicholas's party because of the stupid Bar Review. Blech!). I have met this guy before on several occasions, but only briefly. I have heard a TON about him from my friend, his wife, but haven't had a lot of personal experiences with the guy to truly form my own opinion of him. I know he's older (in his 40's - gasp!), an only-child who was raised in NYC, and a fierce Democrat. He bans TV in his home and plays chess. He mostly rides his bike vs. car whenever he can. As a couple they've been going to marriage counseling and have vastly different views of how to parent their children. And now I can add "The Dad Who Doesn't Get It" to my list of stuff I know about him.

Maybe it's because he's a guy. Maybe it's because he didn't get to go to many parties as a kid. Maybe it's because he's just odd. I don't know. But I DO know that he totally and completely threw off the rhythm of the party more than once. There is a certain flow to kids' birthday parties. A delicate timing of activities, food, and general play time. A good hostess will keep his/her finger on the pulse of the party and gauge the best time to start the next game or activity. They will be certain to keep things moving along so everyone can get out of there on time without having felt rushed. But this guy? He clearly doesn't understand the nuances of kid party hosting. He kept screwing stuff up. Had I been his wife he would have been on the receiving end of many dirty looks and not-so-subtle explanations about why he needs to quit interferring.

To elaborate, the party was held in the afternoon at a local park. There were something like 7 or 8 four-year-olds in attendance, plus a few younger siblings (not Lauren, thank God!), and parents. There was a playground, of course, and lots and lots of sand. Good times for the kids. The party had only one game/activity planned: a pinata. Otherwise, it was just general playtime, cake & ice cream, and gift opening. The usual. So we get there and the kids are all off and playing on the playground happily. Not everyone had even arrived yet - 2 guests were still MIA - but this guy suddenly starts calling to all the kids to come and do the pinata. We'd been there maybe 10 min. Pinata already? Why not wait for everyone to get there so ALL the kids can participate in the ONLY activity? Of course the kids came running and clamoring to get in line for their turn to whack the shit out of the pinata. This guy is handing the first kid the bat while his wife is now scrambling to find all the bags that the kids will need to hold all their candy once the pinata breaks. He had no forethought. Bags? Oh yeah, bags. So the kids proceed to make short work of the pinata and candy and crap spills out all over the grass and it's a mad scramble to collect all you can. Nicholas is a master at this, by the way. He filled his bag in record time. I had to pull him away in order to let all the kids get a equal share of the booty. Except that a couple of kids were still not there and now this crazy dad is on his hands and knees collecting candy and stuff and filling bags for the missing kids. I didn't feel bad for him AT ALL. Should have waited, jackass. The kids were all playing just fine and would have been happy to wait a little bit before hitting the pinata.

The parents were all standing about chatting when suddenly The Dad starts running to the playground. Apparently he saw a couple of the kids about to mix it up. Tempers were starting to flare and he was going to intervene. This would have been OK, except that neither of the kids involved were his (or mine - good boy, Nicholas!), and the parents of both the kids were there. It felt a little weird to have him sprint down there like a full-on knock down, drag out brawl was happening and not let the parents of the kids handle it themselves. He's down there giving the kids a "talking to" as their parents are still making their way to the scene. It was just odd. It didn't seem like his place.

And finally, as the birthday boy was opening his gifts, The Dad decides to get the bundle of helium balloons - all of which were a different color - and interrupt the gift opening to start handing them out. Each kid suddenly noticed that the balloons were being passed out and they clamored around him shouting out which color they each wanted. It was chaos. And his own kid is now sitting by himself still opening the last couple of gifts. The rhythm was totally blown. The Wife had previously told the kids, when they first spied the balloons, that they would each get one when the party was over but that they wouldn't necessarily get to select the color they wanted. They would get whichever balloon they got - end of story. But now her lovely husband interrupts the gift opening time and is letting the kids dictate which color they get, and of course some are getting upset because they didn't get their preferred color, and a few accidentally let go of their balloon, and it was just a mess. He screwed it all up. Everything was going along fine until he gets involved.

Now I totally understand why my friend had suggested marriage counseling. There is NO WAY I could live with that guy. I'd kill him. It's clear he doesn't get it. Doesn't listen to his wife very well, and seems to be impossible to communicate with. Yeah, I'd kill him. He just SO doesn't get it.

You know you really should work on not being so "judgmental".
If I were to take your attitude I would comment on the fact that at least her husband was present at their childs birthday.
you know, you're right. I do come across as judgemental about this guy. I guess this stems from knowing more of the history from my friend and feeling bad for her because he threw off her schedule for the party. It was a strange vibe. But, it was just a kids party and the kids didn't mind at all. Just the adults noticed. And yes, at least he was THERE, which is what counts the most. Mr. Chick would have been at Nicholas's party, which is why it was scheduled on a weekend and not on his actual birthday (Friday), had the Bar Review class he's in not end up scheduling a full-day mock Bar Exam for that day. No way to get out of it. Instead Mr. Chick made a big deal out of Nick's actual birthday and brought him home a special lunch (pizza, again!) that day, and we did a small "family" birthday that evening to make up for him missing his actual kids party. But all in all, the party in the park was fun for the kids. It was just annoying for a few of us adults that were there dealing with the aftermath his thoughtless (?)/unaware (?), clueless (?) actions created (my friend having to explain to the kids that missed out on the pinata, the upset over the balloons, etc.). But all in all, these were minor in the grand scheme of things. It was *just* a kids party.
Funny! I had to laugh reading this story. What a doof!
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