The great escape

We go to Rita’s work-place with our four-months-old twin boys. I sit in the waiting room with the babies in the carriage while Rita goes inside to get some things done.

Suddenly the babies and I are surrounded by some five women, Rita’s psychologist  colleagues. They talk to the babies, make faces to them, make sounds, touch them, giggle to them…

Whereas Ilan loves the attention and delights his audience by smiling, laughing and wiggling seductively, Nathan and I don’t share his pleasure under this sudden ‘attack’. I simply put on a frozen smile while Nathan observes the strange women and their strange behavior and tries to decide if this situation is bearable. The women prod him, trying to make him smile as well, but they have no success. So they return to Ilan and enjoy his good humor while commenting – this one smiles more, that one is more serious…

I don’t like having my babies observed, studied, scrutinized, analyzed. To me it feels like Nathan is being criticized, that I should be protecting him and that I am failing him. I wish I could get away from this overdose of attention… When is Rita returning already?

One of the women kneels down by Ilan and puts the pacifier in his mouth. He is happy, excited. He kicks with his hands and feet and one of his socks falls off his foot. She picks it up and puts it back on his foot. I say, half humorously, half apologetically, that when we go for walks we have to return the same way we went because we need to look for the lost socks. That both boys throw off their socks. ‘Both of them?’ – she asks surprised. ‘Also Nathan? He seems so quiet!’ – ‘Yes, both of them!’ – I defend him. He’s not so passive! And why is Rita taking so long? Why is she leaving me here all alone in this circle of women?

True, I am feeling some pride for the attention my babies are getting. But I am already angry at this woman who is making me feel inadequate. I don’t think she would give him the pacifier or put on his sock if Rita were here. She acts this way because she thinks that I, a mere father, couldn’t possibly know how to do such womanly things…

And suddenly, without any hint from me, without any prodding from me, without me nudging him or pinching him – Nathan saves us both. He starts to crank up his face, to squirm in his seat and finally to cry loudly.

Now of course Rita comes running. I quickly pick up Nathan and escape to the quiet garden. He obliges me by calming down immediately and showing those women that even a father can do some parenting.

With the emergency over, Rita and Ilan continue to hold court happily with his fans.


About the Author
David Wolf writes about his experience of being a second-time husband and father. He has a daughter from his first marriage, and, with his second wife, has accrued three daughters, two sons-in-law, one grandchild and twin 8-year-old sons. He is a social worker in a mental health department and in private practice in Raanana.