Wow. Just found a box of fondant fancies. That's the equivalent of crystal meth to the Humus Mums. 'Kids. Who'd like a cake?'
I think, for me, one of the most daunting challenges I have faced in caring for our children has been the wall of femininity you meet anywhere you go with your kids.
Completely understandable, after all our society places most of the burden for childcare on women. I also, of course, knew that this would be the case before we adopted. However, nothing really prepares you for it.
Attending all sorts of occasions I have often felt myself literally to be the elephant in the room. It very often being the case that I am the only male there. That said, there have been a large number of women who have been remarkably open and friendly, making me feel welcome and relaxed in these otherwise daunting situations.
I was therefore touched when I was asked by one of the school Mums if I would like to bring the children along to a post school picnic one afternoon. Our son was otherwise engaged, but I was assured that our three year old daughter and I would be welcome.
The invitation was made at lunchtime for that afternoon, so I quickly put together a snack from items I had in the provisions cupboard at home. Our daughter and I headed off to the local gardens.
It was a glorious autumn afternoon. I knew that one of J's friends would also be there as well as the kindly Mum who'd invited me. "The others are from my post natal group, their children don't go to the local schools but I'm sure you'll like them," she had said as part of the invitation. Knowing that the evenings were beginning to draw in, I have to admit to the fact that the likelihood it would not therefore be a drawn out affair was also part of the attraction.
Arriving and walking up to the adjacent picnic tables around which the group had positioned themselves, it was quite clear that the other members of their little club had been neither informed nor consulted about the potential presence of a man in their group.
Luckily kindly Mum was there already and did the introductions, amidst much nodding of Alice Bands and forced smiles. Three year old was off already playing with the assembled Portia's and Gideons as they ran around trees.
J's friend arrived and we chatted for a while, although inevitably she and kindly Mum were soon engrossed in conversation with other of their friends. I tried to engage some of the other Mums around me in conversation but was met with one line answers, mumbled through pursed lips.
The injection of testosterone into their midst clearly wasn't going down well.
Amidst much talk of corporate ladder climbing by husbands and Mums socials the assembled band of ladies began to unpack their, clearly thoughtfully prepared, picnic snacks for the children.
I unpacked my backpack too, glancing up to see the Mums beginning to lay out their offerings and call their children over. Those Mums closest to me seemed however to have frozen and were staring at the contents of the backpack I was beginning to place on the picnic table.
They had tupperware containing homemade humus, carrot and pepper sticks and various pulse salads. I'd brought a three pack of Kit Kat and a packet of Quavers and some Mini Cheddars. There was an audible intake of breath from a couple of them and lips became ever more tightly pursed.
Children collected their fayre and took it off to the neighbouring picnic tables and play fort to eat.
Watching from afar I noticed my daughter already receiving envious looks from those children nearest to her as she tucked into Mini Cheddars. Our three year old is a sweetie. She offered her Mini Cheddars to some of the other kids.
Suddenly our daughter was the most popular child there. The Home Made Humus Mums were aghast and were now looking daggers. One even walked over to the crowd of kids tucking into Mini Cheddars and Quavers to pull her son away, saying loudly "We don't eat that kind of thing Hugo, it's NOT good for you!" That statement being said while staring directly at me.
I had within moments gone from just being an awkward interloper at the Home Made Humus Mums picnic to a suspected Pusher, peddling Class A fare to their children. From the looks I received you would think that I had provided my three year old with heroin and cocaine to share around, not Quavers.
Now, I'm not one to court trouble, but by this point I am thinking there's not much left to lose, the Home Made Humus Mums hate me by now anyway. Calling my daughter over I flourish the three remaining packets from the multipack of Quavers in my backpack.
Our daughter was now Queen of this picnic. She was feted by all of the children, even Hugo slipped away from Martial Home Made Humus Mum and was back in the scrum for a Quaver.
Fishing around in the bottom of the backpack I found an additional packet. Dare I? Why not, it's nearly time to go. I called our daughter over again.
"Darling, I found these in my backpack too," I said loudly. "Would you like to offer them to your friends?"
Our three year old noded eagerly.
Waving the box of Fondant Fancies at the assembled children I called out, "Guys, <daughter> has these, who'd like a cake?"
There was a panicked rush amongst the Home Made Humus Mums as they began to pack up their tupperware, calling their children to heal while staring daggers at me the whole time. You would have thought I had offered their children Crystal Meth.
I took our daughter's hand and walked away, she skipping happily alongside me, waving goodbye to her new found best friends who waved back admiringly.
Stressed looking Home Made Humus Mums pointedly ignored us as they pack up trying to prise Fondant Fancies from their children's grasps.
The Home Made Humus Mum Mafia's disapproval was palpable. I'm a marked man. I fully expect to awake one day soon with a lidless tub of homemade beetroot pate on my pillow.
Got to say, it was worth it though, just for the looks on their faces.