As most of us Dads already know, the arrival of children into our lives inevitably coincides with an increased frequency of embarrassing moments. Typically, in the BC (Before Children) days, you’re young, have some income that you can have fun with, and think of yourself as somewhere at the upper end of the cool scale, just above Poor But Hip Student but below Wealthy And Glamorous Bachelor. Let’s call it Hip Young Professional (or HYP from here on in). You are every advertiser’s dream demographic and all of the exciting new bars and restaurants with their expensive craft beers and ironically-dressed staff seem to have been created with you and your partner in mind.
Then you get pregnant, “Hurray!” you say to each other, “Now we have a wonderful baby who will fit seamlessly into our lifestyle and draw adoring glances from the hipster clientele at our favourite hang-outs!” Oh how wrong you were you deluded former-HYP, how wrong you were. Let me tell you a story that illustrates what you can expect from going out in public with a small human.
It was a Saturday afternoon and the forgettable early Premier League kickoff had just finished. Dream Wife said we needed some things from the shop so, as usual, I tried to persuade her that the bread, milk and eggs weren’t really as essential as society in general would have us believe. She then mentioned we were out of crisps and beer so I valiantly ventured forth with our first son, who I’ll refer to as CM (Cheeky Monkey), who was 1 at the time. I love my son to bits, and he was at the cute stage (aren’t all stages cute?) where he was learning some vital words. His chosen favourites were ‘goal’, ‘dad’, ‘more’ and an obscure variant of ‘popcorn’. I strapped him into the buggy and off we went. At the time we lived around the corner from a Super Spar so, after a brief walk in the sun (you can tell we weren’t living in the UK at the time), we arrived.
I’m not a fan of shops. My approach is one of a military-style extraction behind enemy lines: get in, get what you want and then get out as fast as possible. Spending any longer than absolutely necessary is both dangerous and a waste of time in my book. So within 5 minutes we had what we needed. As soon as I saw the eye-wateringly-long line to pay, inspiration struck; my son had been great so far but was showing the early signs of crankiness so I decided to keep him happy by getting him a little bag of popcorn. “Haha!” I foolishly thought, “This parenting stuff’s easy.”
I gave my son some popcorn and dutifully stationed myself in the queue. After a couple of minutes of him happily munching away, he had finished his meager portion and asked for some more. Now when I say “asked for more” I mean he shouted ‘more popcorn’ at the top of his little voice. It doesn’t sound so bad does it? That’s because you don’t know how he pronounced ‘popcorn’ at the time. His limited linguistic skills meant he didn’t say ‘popcorn’, he said ‘cock’. This wasn’t so bad in the comfort of our own home as my wife and I knew what he meant and thought it was cute. However, as CM was screaming “MORE COCK” in the middle of a crowded supermarket I thought that we should probably revisit that particular policy.
As any embarrassed parent does, I tried to nervously laugh it off as a funny incident with my toddler whilst cringing under the suspicious gaze of the many patrons, “Haha! Here’s you POPCORN, my boy. More POPCORN for you, haha…”
Mourn your loss
This is why ‘family’ restaurants exist. These are some of the only locations (along with parks, soft play and play groups) where you don’t get judgemental looks and disapproving glances during such moments. Instead, you get average service, average food, no craft beer and sympathetic looks from other former HYPs. They mourn the loss of your coolness with you and that solidarity feels damn good.
So does this mean that you can never be a HYP again? Yes. Mourn your loss. Hold a ceremony and say a few words for your shredded street cred. Welcome to a lower status on the scale. You are now a FHYP, a Former Hip Young Professional and yes, that is way below Poor But Hip Student.
But does this mean that you have say goodbye to those trendy destinations? No. Just save those places for a date with your partner. That way you won’t have to try and save face after your toddler has shouted ‘cock’ at the top of their voice.
I’d love to hear some of your embarrassing parenting stories, why not share them as a comment? We can mourn the death of your coolness together!