Henpecked at the Petting Zoo

June 3rd, 2010  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  3 Comments

My son, who can't even feed himself, feeds a goat

Watch out for those goddamn teeth!

This Memorial Day weekend, we stopped by Terhune Orchards in central Jersey, because what could honor our troops more than apple cider slushies, u-pick strawberry fields, and a fleet of broken-down toy tractors?

All of that entertainment was secondary, however, to the little farm section of the orchards, where goats and geese and (sometimes) a horse hang out behind a wire fence and are fed handfuls of corn by city slickers.

Just as in the city, the weirdest creatures on the farm were the married couples. I got a few minutes, while my kids ran feral, to just sit and watch the adults interact, and in ten minutes or so, I lost a bit of hope for parents, and in particular for fathers.

Judging by that admittedly small sample size, it would seem that the Fathers are a race of idiots, constantly needing minding and reminding from their overlords, the Mothers. Yes, the dads seemed a little mopey and disconnected, but hardly warranting the acrid micromanagement they seemed to be getting. A few of the choicer interactions:

1) One dad, accompanying his preschool-age daughter on a mission to feed a goose, was told by the mom, no less than three times, some variant on “geese bite!” and “watch her fingers!”

2) When that daughter turned her attention to the cat, the mom called after both of them, “Don’t let her touch its poo-hole!” (?!)

3) Another mom made some sort of bobbing motion with her head, like a rooster, as she chided her husband about their son, who had just finished touching a goat-snout: “Make sure he washes his hands. Good this time.”

4) A second mom said under her breath to her husband, apropos of nothing that I could see: “Don’t you mess with me, Brian.” A threat which received no reply, just shrug of the shoulders and a meek smile.

Now, I’m sure my significant and I have our own verklempt little tussles, but lord knows I can’t complain, not after seeing all that foolishness. And men (myself included) are certainly not blameless in the war of the sexes. Far from it. But there was something in the public meekness of those men that I think a lot of dads have experienced at one time or the other. It’s a kind of a survival gesture, an attempt to defer and flatter your mate until the danger passes.

There’s an analogy from nature here, but it’s got nothing to do with goats or gander: Being a father is sometimes more like being a hiker perpetually caught between a mama bear and her cub. Except that when a mama bear charges in the wild, you’re supposed to stand your ground. When the mother of your children attacks, I wouldn’t recommend it.


  1. Sam says:

    June 3rd, 2010at 12:12 pm(#)

    These are the same “men” who, before they were married, carried their drunk girlfriends heels on the odyssey to the next bar. Walking barefoot in the city painfree eclipses their “man’s” masculinity and turns them into Brians. Brians also get in trouble for saying “It doesn’t make you look fat,” bc you know, he’s just saying that to make her feel better, he doesn’t MEAN it.

  2. Keith Wilcox says:

    June 3rd, 2010at 12:17 pm(#)

    Yeah, that annoys the heck out of me when I see it. My wife and I have a little understanding about nagging. She tried nagging me a few times long ago, but it didn’t work out so well for her because I’m just as bad about nagging her about her nagging. She starts nagging and I turn around and nag about the nagging. So our understanding is that in the the interest of sanity neither one of us will nag :-)

  3. Carly says:

    June 3rd, 2010at 1:56 pm(#)

    It may not make sense but the women are still mad at the men for 1) getting them pregnant in the first place; 2) having to breast feed (just imagine, everyone in the world tells you you should do this thing that is incontrovertibly good for your child but to do it requires you experience discomfort of all manner for at least as long as you were just recently stuffed with a kicking mammal and uncomfortably slow-moving); 3) getting to be a parent without having to do 1 and 2; and 4) occasionally, rarely, in some instance pursuing careers (aka adult lives) at all costs while the ladies pick up the pieces at home. On the whole maternal rage/irritation is not really nagging but some kind of deep discomfort with the sorry facts of biology and the atomized nature of parenting in the USA today.

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