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Marisa Mackle: Meeting the mother of all proud fathers

I was at a dinner party a while ago. The hostess had me sitting beside a father-of-three. His wife works nights so she couldn't be there. He's a stay-at-home dad and loves nothing more than to talk about his children.

Unfortunately, I've known this man a long time as we share the same friends, but I always try to avoid him. When he first started having kids he was constantly clogging up my email account with pictures of his babies. Every time I bumped into him the photos would come out, and I used to look at them, but not say anything. I thought if I said anything I'd only encourage him.

He even once offered to show me a video that he took of his first born's birth. "Would you like to see it some time?" he asked over dessert. I remember searching his face for traces of irony but not being able to find any.

"I'm so glad you're here," he said when I sat down, making me feel a bit guilty because the feeling was definitely not reciprocal. "How's your little girl?"

"Little boy. I had a boy."

"Oh yes, Harry, wasn't it?"

"Gary."

"He must be nearly two now."

"Nearly one."

Like most people who talk non-stop about themselves and their kids, he had no interest in me nor my child. I hoped somebody would rescue me, but everybody else was engrossed in their own conversations. To think I'd braved the snow for this. At least at a cocktail party you can say you're bursting to go to the loo and escape.

"I must show you some photos of my fellows later on," he said. "My eldest is in school now, though he was off last week because of the snow."

"That must have been fun."

"Well, I didn't want him to be missing out so I gave him some grinds."

For God's sake, the child is five!

"It was tough, you know, on all of us with the tennis club being closed as well. The courts were all iced up."

"Does your five-year-old play tennis?"

"And the four-year-old plays too. We'll be seeing them in Wimbledon one day."

He's going to be one of those dads who turns up to every game his sons ever play. I only remember one dad in school who cheered on his daughter at every single hockey match. I used to be so glad my own father would quietly wait for me in the car.

Desperate to change tack I asked whether his wife minded working nights.

"No, she likes to get out of the house."

Well, would you blame her?


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