As a man of equality, there’s not much I wouldn’t, or haven’t done in the name of fatherhood. I know men who didn’t change a diaper until the child was almost a year old. I know other men, like my father, who feel the man’s place in the home is to keep things running smoothly, only stepping into the role of “caregiver” as a last resort, or when all hell has broken loose and a little law is in order. I, on the other hand, pride myself on being a near-equal to CareerMom in all areas of rearing children.
These thoughts were running through my head yesterday, as I stood in CVS talking to a female pharmacist, in front of a row of various “creams” for um…yeast infections for MLE’s diaper rash.
“Yes, this is a very good one here. It has applicators for girls, but since your baby is a boy, you can just take it right from the tube and rub it along the infected areas.”
My mind wandered, as any man’s would, and I couldn’t help but think to myself, “What would I have to do if we had a girl?”
The pharmacist droned on, “Now, are you using packaged wipes when you clean him? Because it’s best if you just use a squirt bottle and then pat him clean with a soft cloth.”
I heard myself mumble, “Well, he’s in daycare all day, so we can’t control what they do, and when he’s at home, we change him on a padded plastic thing, so I can’t really use a squirt bottle, but I do wipe him very gently and then pat him clean with a warm washcloth.” And then I had a “Scrubs” moment and in my head, a vignette played out, recalling how as I have his two ankles clasped in my hand and I lift his legs so that his booty is off the table, how he grins as I press the warm washcloth against his hiney. And I chuckled and immediately feared that the pharmacist would read my chuckle as embarrassment and even further patronize me.
It was clear that she thought this was my first go-round at this fathering thing, and being of Indian origin, I’m pretty sure she didn’t hold in too high esteem, the parenting skills of most men (I’m stereotyping here, I know), but rather than launching into my usual soapbox about how we men are perfectly capable, I just nodded along with her sage wisdom.
But in my head I was just thinking, “Look lady, just tell me which of these creams works best, Vagisil, or the store brand, and then let me get out of here through the checkout with the shortest line so nobody sees me buying it!”
Alas, it was not to be. Luckily, the checkout person was an older man, who had probably seen it all and who gave my feminine purchase little more than a casual glance. And also luckily, there was no need for a public price check over the intercom.