Picture this, if you dare. It’s a Saturday morning and I am dashing about the house wearing only my knickers, still damp from the shower. Why? One of my boys requested paper, pencils and sticky tape. The other parent in our house was going about his business unaware of the happenings around him. You know what that makes me, and you, if almost every shower you take is interrupted? The default parent. This is the parent who the kids will automatically gravitate towards to have their demands meet. Being the default parent is relentless. Here’s why.
Every shower is interrupted
As a default parent your kids ask you to do anything and everything kids while you’re in the shower, wiping bottoms, taking jumpers off, dealing with sibling disputes, opening drink bottles, the list is endless. One would think the other parent in the house could attend to these needs. Not so! The kids will bypass the other parent in favour of the default parent. Even the shower provides no refuge for the default parent.
The default parent knows precisely which cupboard the kids clothes are kept in, which side of the wardrobe, whether their favourite jumper is in the wash, what they left the house wearing. If the other parent is to dress a child the default parent will either need to lay the clothes out or answer copious questions about where the clothes are located. When laying clothes out, the default parent cannot forget anything. If there is more than one child in the house, the default parent must put the piles of clothes out and make it clear which pile is for which particular child. If not, the kids will inevitably be dressed in clothes that are far too big or small (my six month old was chubby, but not quite a size 2). Sound familiar? Then you’ll be well aware that being the default parent is relentless.
Perhaps it’s because my boys were attached to my boob for so long, or maybe it’s because I am their short order chef. For whatever reason, the default parent bears the burden of feeding the
hungry beasts children. The default parent can often be found in the kitchen making sandwiches according to the demands of the child (vegemite but no butter, no butter mummy, just vegemite), fetching drinks, peeling or cutting fruit. If the other parent attempts food preparation there are inevitable questions about their ability to produce the food according to the whims of the child. The other parent is unlikely to understand instructions like ‘leave it big’ in relation to strawberries.
Leaving the house
Every parent knows that leaving the house is a mission in itself. But the default parent is the one packing the countless snacks needed to sustain children on an outing (refer to Food above), jumpers, spare clothes, nappies and wipes, hats, sunscreen, this list goes on. The default parent is often left flustered by the experience. The other parent kinda wanders aimlessly about the house, all set to go but trying to work out why the default parent is so cross and why on earth they aren’t ready yet.
There’s no downtime at home
There is absolutely no way the default parent can have downtime at home. The requests for food, to get play dough, to fetch paper for drawings, to stop a brother hitting the other, to make a lego aeroplane, to get a puzzle, you get the idea, simply never stop. Meanwhile the other parent can read the newspaper, perhaps not front to back like the pre-kids days. This is something the default parent would not even bother to attempt. The only way for the default parent to fleetingly escape their relentless role is to remove themselves from the house.
Keeping track of kid stuff
Conversations between the parents go like this:
Other parent – Do you know where the kid’s shoes are?
Default parent – Wherever you put them when you carried them in from outside.
Other parent – Oh.
Default parent – I suspect they are at the front door where you dumped them.
The shoes are in fact where the other parent left them. Somehow, without consciously noting where the shoes are, the default parent commits this information to memory for the moment when the information is needed.
Or, another conversation:
Other parent – the kid is sad because he didn’t get an invitation to Frank’s party.
Default parent – Frank has already had his party. Remember, we went, it was at Luna Park.
Other parent – yeah, the whole class is invited and it’s a bit weird he missed out and the invites were in pink envelopes.
Default parent – Odd, but are you sure it’s Frank?
Other parent – Yep.
The next day, the kid advises he got an invitation to Frankie’s birthday party. Frankie is a girl, a different kid entirely. Even the kid is frustrated that the other parent hadn’t worked out Frankie, rather than Frank, was having a party.
Being a default parent is relentless for many reasons, but keeping a mental note of everything relevant to each kid, every minor detail, is exhausting. The other parent on Wallace is a brilliant Dad and I certainly don’t begrudge him my ‘default parent’ status. I doubt I’d change it if I could, but every now and then it’d be nice to have a role change!
If you are the default parent and fancy a brilliant read about life as a default parenting, you must read this post by M.Blazoned.
Are you the default parent? Do you find it relentless?