An Open Letter to the Ladies at the Park

The Next Family

By: Danny Thomas

Look, I know…
Maybe it’s not what you’re used to…
A man in the park, with his kids
on a weekday morning.
Maybe it’s just how mixing the genders
Changes the chemistry of the room
Maybe it has nothing to do with me being a man.
But, jeeze you sure seem shut down.
You won’t look at me
Even when I say hi…
That’s weird.
And it makes me feel weird about myself.
Seriously tho,
I may have a bit of chaos in my bearing
Possibly a little more kid than parent,
Possibly a little aloof and awkward myself,
But, you have nothing to fear.
I am not after you or your kids.
I’m sorry if it seems like I am leering, scowling, or grimacing…
It has more to do with my lack of sleep,
Or need of a bathroom,
Than any misdeed I may be planning.
I have felt this way before, with other moms, at other playgrounds
In other parks
In other parts of the country.
I have also met friendly ladies
And other dads too
Willing to converse
At least share a “Hello, sure is nice out?”
Or more…
I don’t know what it is
But there is something in how you react to me,
Is it your body language?
Your downcast eyes?
Or just a distance you maintain…
I wonder if you think I kidnapped my children,
That I am some kind of Stromboli, or Brian Mitchell, or some other dark shadow lurking…
I really just came to watch my kids climb
And push them on the swing.
I wonder how much of this comes from my own baggage – and how much comes from you…
I did spend the better part of my youth cultivating feelings of existential angst and cultural aggression…
So I s’pose I am naturally predisposed to feeling excluded, via my training or whatever…
Could be a little bit of the old Mr. Mom complex is at play here too.
As the only dad at the park today
I feel out of place…
Like I walked in to the Red Tent…
Or opened the wrong door at the party.
It’s a lot like how I feel when I go to the spa…
Somehow it makes more sense at the spa.
But listen, here’s the thing: let’s at least smile and wave…
It’s a good place to start – it might help us both get past our baggage, and maybe make a new friend, at the very least we can be comfortable with each other here on this playground.

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