We teach kids to look for a mommy.
I can’t recall the exact wording, hence the lack of quotes, but that is the gist of what I was told while sitting in a beautiful courtyard on a bright clear morning. All I could smell was juniper and ocean.
I was seated at a table layered in fresh, white linen and even fresher coffee stains with two other men that blog in the parenting space. We were attending an exceptional conference aimed at women in that very same online community, and we had been welcomed by everyone with open arms and mini-bar jokes.
Everyone, apparently, except the woman that sat down and asked if we were vendors. It was an honest mistake and I chalked up her assumption to our snappy dress and boyish good looks. Surely dad bloggers couldn’t look this good.
She introduced herself and we followed suit. It turns out that she owns a company you have probably heard of, and they make a product you probably enjoy. She then, for lack of a better segue, started talking about lost kids and how the philosophy of her company is to tell kids to look for a mommy.
“So a lost child in a park should walk right past all of the dads in order to find someone they think to be a mommy?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said, and then she started listing all of the reasons that men should not be trusted. She talked about the crimes men commit. The history of violence against children and women. She gave the facts as casually as if she were asking one of us to pass the butter, and we just looked at her with open mouths and disbelief.
One of the men pointed out that women have committed more than their fair share of crimes against children—in fact, the news is currently full of such sad stories.
She balked at the notion.
I explained that the problem with teaching children that men are bad is that some of them might actually believe it—children that have fathers and brothers or those that will someday be men themselves. It was a terrible and ignorant weight to put on a child.
She nodded for a moment and then continued to make her point.
“That’s bullshit,” I said. Loudly. The shock was palatable. “You can’t prolong a potentially dangerous situation for a lost child by filling their heads with paranoid profiling.”
“We,” and I indicated the men at the table, “have been working far too hard for that kind of nonsense.
My kids know to look for an adult should they get lost, and an obvious dad is as good as an obvious mom when it comes to the welfare and safety of my children.”
She said something else after that, but I was too angry to hear her. I just watched her lips move, and behind her the waves as they crashed upon the sunlit sand and rolled back into the ocean, somewhat saltier and slightly more broken.