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A New Atmosphere by Gail Hamilton

They are kept from disturbing papa

lack of interest which would

be very unwomanly in a woman, but is not the the least unmanly nor absolutely unknown in a man. It is a great affliction to the mother, if, in consequence of a temporary neglect of picket-duty, he puts his head into the kitchen or sewing-room, to say with heroic self-control, "Carrie, the children are so in and out that it is impossible for me to do anything." An impatient upward look from his newspaper causes her a shiver of dread. Small table-skirmishes are put to an untimely end by mamma's hurrying the unlucky belligerents out of sight and sound of their outraged sire, and the one Medo-Persic law of the family is at all risks to rescue the father from every inconvenience and annoyance from the children. The kind, devoted woman shuts them carefully up within her own precincts. They may overrun her without stint. They may climb her chair, pull her work about, upset her basket, scratch the bureau, cut the sofa, run to her for healing in every little heart-ache; but no matter. They are kept from disturbing papa. I am amazed at the folly of women! Kept from disturbing papa? Rather hound them on, if there must be any intervention! Put the crying baby in his arms the moment he enters the house, and be sure to run away at once beyond his reach, or with true masculine ingenuity he will be sure at the end of five minutes to find some pretext for delivering the young orator back into your care. So far from carefully withholding the children from the paternal vicinage, at the first symptoms
of exclusiveness, put a paper of candy and a set of drums at his door to toll the children thither. But this only in extreme cases. If he is ordinarily reasonable, the right course is to do neither, but let things take their own way. Except in case of illness or some unusual and pressing emergency, the little ones ought not to be kept from either of their lawful owners. The serenity of one is no more sacred than the serenity of the other. The father must simply take the natural consequences of his children. If they drift into his current, he must bear them on. He ought to experience their obviousness, their inconvenience, their distraction. It is no worse for a chubby hand to upset the inkstand on his papers, than for it to upset the molasses-pitcher upon the table-cloth. It is no worse for his experiments, his study, his reading, to be interrupted, than it is for his wife's sewing. He can write his letters, or stand behind the counter, or make shoes, with a baby in his arms, just as well as she can make bread and set the table with a baby in her arms. Let him come into actual close contact with his children and see what they are and what they do, and he will have far more just ideas of the whole subject than if he stands far off and, from old theories on the one side and ten minutes of clean apron and bright faces on the other, pronounces his euphonious generalizations. His children will elicit as much love and admiration and interest as now, together with a great deal more knowledge and a great deal less silly, mannish sentimentalism.


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