We were on our way somewhere – the destination irrelevant – the same frantic rush that precedes every family outing, irrespective of whether it is a carefully planned holiday or an impromptu dash to the park.
The scene is reminiscent of passengers about to board a train at a busy station, scuttling in all directions, searching frantically for missing shoes and lost gloves, dashing for final wees and collecting stray coffee mugs and juice cups for the dishwasher on the way out.
In the midst of this chaos, my husband sees his sole responsibility as rising from his chair, locating his unmissable size-11 shoes which are usually to be found in middle of the entrance hall where he left them, and then shouting at the rest of us to get a move on.
After three children and 10 years of marriage it doesn’t ever occur to him to pack a nutritious bag of snacks, wipe a bottom or two or help a screaming toddler into his coat to speed the process along.
This time my three-year-old, Max, by some miracle managed to find his shoes and coat quite quickly and was standing proudly aside his dad frowning disapprovingly at the rest of us as we desperately fell about our feet to get out the door.
My husband unhelpfully said: “Why is this taking so long? What ARE you doing?”
This is never a good move and I made it clear in no uncertain terms that I would take exactly as long as I deemed necessary and that if he wanted us to get there on time nothing prevented him from getting his hands dirty and helping.
It was at this point that Max looked up innocently at his dad and asked very seriously: “Why is her always so stroppy, dad?”
For a few minutes I was speechless… and then it dawned on me, he’s only three and has had limited conditioning of traditional male/female roles and a good dose of feminism from my side, but he’s already cottoned on that a man’s role is to look after himself only and any woman who questions this is being demanding, difficult… and stroppy!