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Friday, 22 July 2016

Embracing my dark passenger, my dad rage

Angry dad by a no swimming sign: rage, anger, fury

As I get older, I’m recognising I carry around my very own dark passenger, much like in Dexter, the TV series. I used to joke that every time he mentioned this dark passenger (i.e. every episode) that what he means is that he has a great big haemorrhoid on his arsehole causing him a huge amount of discomfort.

In reality, Dexter's burden is a constant murderous impulse in his head to kill people, and my own metaphorical haemorrhoid is my dad rage.

Dad rage is perpetuated by strangers. Normally it’s a disapproving look that sets it off. I can always see them coming too.

Picture the scene: We're on a beach. It’s raining a little, and it’s a cold, grey day. I’m carrying my son with one arm while he clings, naked to me, with his boy bits teabagging my chest. In my other hand I’m carrying a Kiddimoto balance bike and a soiled, shit soaked nappy.

Clearly, I don’t look like a guy you should trifle with, as I walk towards the nearest place of refuge: a warm café.

Like a scene from Reservoir Dogs, I notice a group of people walking towards us. Their faces show shock. Why is that peasant boy unclothed? How irresponsible of his parents…

Everything becomes slow motion at this point. I’m ready to push the dad rage button.

The group, transfixed, continue to stare, open mouthed, at this disgusting apparition of a parent as we approach one another. Like two tribes of apes, I focus my eyes into the eyes of their alpha male, an old man, whose face shows the most open disdain. He is wearing a purple sailing jacket; no doubt triple lined against the elements. He’s looking at the knobbly spine of my boy while he hugs my neck.
My eyes dare him. Come on, say it. Say it. Ask me why this young human is exposed to light drizzle. Do it.

His companions sense danger, they understand the threat of my imminent fury and look away, but Purple Coat continues to stare, assessing his options as we approach medieval sword swinging distance. He flickers a barely perceptible glance at my the metal object in my right hand to assess what he’s up against, and then back at my eyes.

We’re soon passing each other, so I slow my pace, I want him to say something, and I’m turning my head to the right to keep the eye contact unbroken. I’m desperate for things to kick off. I’ve already prepared my blood curdling onslaught for him. My passive aggressive opening bullet is already in the chamber; I’m ready to surprise him with, “Are you wondering why he’s not wearing clothes?”

Brutal. This is being a dad. It’s like a primal, protective instinct. I may not be perfect, but if a stranger ever dares criticise my parenting style I am ready to destroy them.

But no, it’s not to be. His confidence falters, and he looks away as we pass each other. Just like that, all the tension in the air dissipates. Having established my dominance and protected my son and heir from the rival apes, I am free to swallow more coffee and keep him warm while more clothes are fetched from the car.

The preceding buildup, AKA how to attract disapproving strangers from hundreds of metres away.

1.    Child rips off clothes upon arrival at a beach, only it’s cold and windy.
2.    Child enjoys the sea breeze against his skin and seems impervious to the cool breeze tickling his tiny nutsack. Meanwhile, the thing he refers to as his winkie flaps around with purpose.
3.    Child takes regular breaks to plant his legs wide apart and urinate into the sand, while laughing.
4.    Child gets a little over-excited (in more ways than one), and that makes me cringe and giggle at the same time.
5.    Child inevitably takes a gigantic facebomb into a pool of seawater because he’s not even looking where he’s running.
6.    If you’re lucky, you get to persuade child to put some clothes on. A couple of minutes later, history repeats itself, and you realise you have no spare clothes for him.  
I always thought I was quite a chilled out, placid guy. But parenting has obviously changed me. The 6am starts, and the frequent arguments with the charming, funny little human version of myself now has my nerves on a knife edge!

Do you recognise this in yourself?
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  1. Haha love it.
    Nothing worse to get the "mum/dad" nerves up ready to attack than the stares of other people. Gets my hackles rising every time so I know what your feeling.
    Great little write up and way I see it, your son is happy so f@$k anyone else who thinks different xxx

  2. I shouldn't laugh but at least your boy was having a great time! Who cares what random strangers think but yes I think the Dad rage is fully deserved 👍

  3. Clearly those people weren't parents or they would have looked at you with sympathy and understanding. ;) Great post!

  4. Great post very funny with a serious overtone definitely been there with dad rage actually just yesterday but that's another post lol

  5. Pure gold! Loved your narrative and its funny as hell. My husband struts when he's holding our boy,I think it's a bit peacock-esque and primal. I pity the fool that wants to "ruffle" his or your feathers lol. Middle fingers to judgey twats and cheers to awesome parents.

  6. Such a fun read!I am seven weeks (or maybe fewer) away from meeting my little one for the first time ever and I'm sure I will encounter such an incident some time in the future. I will remember to not channel my inner Dexter because the alternative is pretty scary! :P

    Loved reading your story

    Nikita. :)

  7. I absolutely adore this, and it was beautifully written, too! As a single mom, this has always been my mentality. Just the other day I saw a group of teens at the gym getting close to my son. I was on a treadmill with my headphones on and couldn't hear what was going on. I nearly jumped off the treadmill to rush over and see whether these boys were harassing my kid. Good thing they began laughing and I realized they were just having a good time. Why do I always think the worst? I think our instincts can get us in trouble sometimes.

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    Ghost in the Shell

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