I RECENTLY learned about the existence of the ‘default parent’.
It is a rather fitting name for the role that one parent of a pair will inevitably end up playing for their children.
The default parent, the one that organises it all. The one the school always calls first, and the one the children run to first to dob on their siblings, even running past the other parent to do so. The parent that knows where all the spots in the house are that a school hat could be hiding in.
The default parent carries in their head (or, in my case, an overloaded diary) a list of sporting commitments, music classes, dietary requirements, homework schedules, blood types, doctors’ appointments, raffle tickets to sell, budgets and shoes sizes. None of which are for themselves, it is all for the kids.
They are a logistics and planning expert.
It’s easy to figure out who is the default parent, as I just have while planning my recent trip to South Australia.
If your trip planning does not involve leaving a detailed list of the kids’ after-school commitments, then hooray for you! You are not the default parent. The non default parent can travel safe in the knowledge that the other has ‘got this’.
Although that parent doesn’t get off easy: they become the default money maker, bug squasher and home maintenance person. They often have to deal with disparaging remarks when they step into the default parent’s shoes. More than once I have heard it said that a father is babysitting his own children.
He isn’t babysitting, he is parenting.
I didn’t write all this to make a mockery of the parent that has to be the breadwinner. These roles we play are what they are, and our children are hard-wired to choose the default parent.
These are roles are what we make them, and you can choose to share the load. Quite often I will be asked a question by my child (most often while in the toilet or shower) and instead of getting angry, I tell them that Daddy is better at that stuff, maybe ask him.
Ever so slowly, the kids are evening up the parental roles by themselves. It’s a wonderful thing.
The mentality that dads are less superior parents: that needs to be re-thought. How is it that a lot of people still have these 1950s ideals about parenting roles still going on in 2016?
I had plenty of time to ponder this as I crossed the Hay Plains, when my phone momentarily came to life in the middle of the plains, having found a tiny speck of range, and it rang.
Here I am, in the middle of nowhere, passing by some minuscule phone signal for probably just a minute or two, and they find me. The school found me.
“We know you’re on holidays right now Mrs Jubb, but we knew you’d know the answer to this.” And, of course, I did.