Parenting young children is a mission not for the faint of heart.
Things will get bloody, things will get fluidy, things will get messy, things will get repeated that you absolutely were not down for them repeating.
Small children will make life awkward.
One father on Reddit is dealing with exactly the kind of awkward we all hope to avoid but every parent knows they'll have to deal with eventually. So of course he shared his pain online, and we totally love him for it.
The story starts out innocently enough, with dad walking past his girlfriend and playfully slapping her on the butt.
Most of us have done it at one time or another. The affectionate booty-smack is a staple in happy relationships and champion sports teams, for some reason.
Dad doesn't realize, however, that his four year old son is sitting at the table watching. Of course the child takes notice of the smack (and possible jiggle, let's be real, booty slaps come with a jiggle like 73.8% of the time.) and demands an explanation.
"This occurred about a month ago, my girlfriend was in the kitchen cooking, unbeknownst to me, my 4 y.o son was sitting at the dining table having a snack. I walked out of the bedroom, up to my girlfriend and gave her a good 'attagirl' slap on the rump. My son immediately perks up, 'Hey you hit <gf's name>, why?!'"
That, my dear readers, is where Dad gets faced with a choice.
He could answer honestly, he could try to explain flirting, boundaries and playful teasing. He could make it a good thing and tell his son that sometimes people who are in a romantic relationship (or on a sports team) might jokingly swat each other on the butt as a way of saying good job.
Look, they're not perfect solutions, but buddy definitely had some viable options.
He chose none of them.
tv land GIF by YoungerTV Giphy
Instead, he decided to play it coy with a wink, wink, nudge, nudge kind of response.
Wrong move, cowboy.
"Thinking I was a bit of a wit that can straddle the line between innuendo and educating my son I replied, 'She's a bad girl. Sometimes bad girls need a slap' while giving my gf a sleazy old wink."
"My son nods sagely while my girlfriend just rolls her eyes. End of story as far as I'm concerned. Not so, the next day my ex-wife got a call from pre-school asking both parents to come in and see the principal."
"Apparently, my son's poor old teacher had told him to put away the toys as it was time for another activity. Unsatisfied with this direction my son went up to his teacher and gave her a big whomp on the cheek. When asked why he did that, my son's reply was, 'Because you are very very bad girl! You need a slap'."
"Cue awkward explanation of my domestic habits to my ex-wife and son's principal. I welcome self isolation."
We told you all that young kids make it awkward.
It's one of their superhero powers. We swear it must be there specifically to expose the flaws in our parenting styles.
This dad's "witty banter" technique obviously didn't work.
We'll admit, we're pretty hesitant to tell kids that girls need to be hit, like, ever, but we can also see that this dad just wasn't thinking. Or rather, his little superhero just showed him the flaw in his current parenting path—letting the wrong head decide what you say.
Reddit has met many, many young "heroes" and totally feels for this dad.
"Shake your head, mutter something about "no more youtube, I'm getting a different babysitter sitter" and storm out. Done! Ok folks, now that we have that one solved, can y'all help me figure out a way to get my 5 year old to stop telling everyone about "how momma and daddy keep wrestling in the bathroom." - hellraisinhardass
"Had a similar conversation with my son's kindergarten teacher years ago. She was basically like "I'm sure he sees playful taps on the bottom at home, but we need to tell him that we can't do that to girls at school." I was pretty mortified to say the least." - antisocialbartender
"A colleague's little girl did that to me. She was in kindergarten, so was maybe five years old? He'd stopped in with his kids after a soccer match and his daughter came over and slapped me hard twice on the bum, saying I was a bad girl. He turned red, grabbed her and apologized seamlessly."
"It was only when I mentioned it to my husband that night, and he pointed out my black leather skirt, that we wondered if maybe she'd inadvertently seen a bit of her parents' playtime." - Poldark_life
"Back in time about 50 years, late '60s. Every morning when dad would go to work he would give mom a nice slap on the butt, and give her a kiss as he left. Fast forward a few days and I was watching TV at my grandparent's house. Forget what we were watching but whatever it was I commented "Dad hits mom every morning!" in front of my maternal grandmother. Sunday rolls around and my mom comes to pick me up, and she has a real concerned look on her face. "What did you tell nanny about daddy hitting me?" So I relayed to her about seeing dad "kissing and hitting her" every morning. Mom and grandma had a good laugh at that one." - dpunisher
My kid did the same only he grabbed the booty.....He came around the corner a few days prior and caught me doing that with my girlfriend. They mimic everything. Chalk it up as a funny moment and learning experience. Good luck fellow dad!" - middlejuggernaut
For those of you wondering how things turned out, the original poster did provide a two-part update.
Firstly, he faced a lot of Reddit comments telling him he was encouraging abuse and should lose custody of his son. Can we just NOT take things overboard, internet? Please? Just this once?
But more importantly, the conference was awkward, but everything worked out well. He did end up having a longer talk with his son about it.
His ex-wife, girlfriend and the school are all satisfied with the outcome. All's well that ends well.
We just hope dad has learned his booty-slapping lesson.