In a new feature on Let’s Dad! our resident Agony Uncle, Dr George Pfaff, is on hand to answer all your dadding dilemmas…
Dear Dr Pfaff,
Last week, at my local Stay and Play, the group leader (a lovely middle-aged lady called Pamela) was reading That’s Not My Train to the class, offering the book to the kids so they could touch the fabrics on each page. After the third page, she offered the book to the class and asked, “Does anyone want to touch my rusty funnel?”
I burst out laughing. Not little whimpers either, but loud, uncontrollable heaves which drew outraged and disdainful looks from the assembled parents and carers. This didn’t help matters, as I just couldn’t stop by this point and was in fits of hysterics, with tears rolling down my face. At the end of the session my son and I left under a cloud of shame and we haven’t been back since. He loves that place, and it’s incredibly convenient, but I’m just not sure I can go back there. What should I do?
Firstly, let me assure you that you’re not alone. Children’s books are riddled with innuendo; barely concealed behind a mask of innocence and with the sole intention of plunging unsuspecting readers into the exact pickle you describe. However this doesn’t solve your problem. You need a solution. I’d say your options are threefold:
1. Pretend it never happened. Walk right back in there, tall and steely, as if Pam had never propositioned you with her pungent sweathole. Be friendly, engaging and playful, bring some extra fruit for snack-time and make a point of only raising socially conscientious and agreeable topics of conversation with any parents (who’ll actually talk to you). Never let your guard down or exhibit even the remotest flicker of acknowledgement or remorse for your outburst.
Repeat this tiresome display of conformity for the next 4 or 5 sessions, until the other parents and carers start to doubt whether ‘the incident’ (as it’s probably called behind your back) ever really happened. This will require considerable effort, but if being able to attend is so important to you and your son, then it’ll be worth it.
2. Apologise. Wait until the group convene for storytime and before Pam sets off on another innuendo-heavy adventure, offering up her gunky plughole to all and sundry, fire off an explanatory, and heartfelt, apology that manages not only to explain away your childishness, but paint you in a favourable light.
Maybe you’d been replacing the oil filter on your wife’s car that morning and you’d both had a chuckle over the rusty funnel you’d found in the toolshed? Perhaps ‘Rusty’ was what you called your dear, and recently deceased, Grandfather and you’d been using laughter to mask a deep, inconsolable sadness. You get the idea. Bounce your son on your lap throughout the apology and finish by mentioning the half-marathon you’re running for charity in a few months time. Don’t worry, no-one will sponsor you – because they know in their hearts that you’re a pervert who’ll probably spend the sponsorship money on coke and hookers – so you won’t actually have to run a half-marathon.
3. Relax. The cat’s out of the bag. They all know that you’re an immature twat…so enjoy it. You’ve been liberated! If Pam is manhandling her flaps during story-time, pipe up. Next time the surly little Ukranian girl is grinding around the dance-pole, wink at her mother, “Aaah, she just wants to be like mummy” and finally, after all the weeks of keeping schtum, you can tell the centre manager that the drawing on the fridge (by Ralph, aged 4) looks like a scene from The Human Centipede. Don’t hold back…be yourself. What’s the worse that can happen?
If you have a problem, issue or ailment you’d like to discuss with Dr Pfaff, email firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Dear Dr Pfaff’ in the subject line.