Daddyland has different boundaries. Both external and internal.
In the physical world, the geography of Daddyland is bounded by the open preschool, the parks, the sand box, the forest, the mall, the steps. It is bounded by naps and toddler pick up and the mass transit system. With a baby who cannot walk, it means staying inside and close enough to home for meals and sleep, because you may think you are going to explore but you do not. You want an open preschool, with more toys than your tiny apartment and cheap coffee and a few smiles and a teacher with a guitar in tune for singing.
But moving to Daddyland also pushes the boundaries of each father, to interact with his kids in a different, more minute to minute, more responsible, more caregiving way.
It challenges the boundaries of the mother too, forced to relinquish some control, though also given a freedom.
Daddyland pushes the boundaries of wider society, of open preschool teachers faced with dads, of employers who suddenly have fathers and mothers to juggle, of bystanders and grandparents who must accept the fathers pushing strollers, the sons taking time off, the daughters leaving babies with seemingly incompetent men.
In general, life in Daddyland pushes boundaries in a good direction, an equal direction, teaches men to pack the bags, keeps their eyes on the air in the stroller wheels, on whether we need extra clothes at dagis, on the toddler’s asthma medicine.
Right now, though, I get the feeling many of these guys are playing by the rules of a world they don’t quite own. They adjust their life to what is expected of them – competently as it turns out – but there is still something subtly stiff (??) about the toys they play with or the lunches they serve.
But the boundaries are still shifting in Daddyland. It’s a new country, after all.