When men were ashamed to ride with a pram: Grandpa sent…

I wonder how the girls did it to make them do it. Because I remember how embarrassed guys were when someone saw them with a stroller. However, their friends often laughed at them too. Celebrating the birth of a baby with a manly ride, sure, but changing his diapers? Or know how to mix Sunar? In the series Such a normal family, where the grandfather and two sons-in-law try to do it, it is not exaggerated at all. My husband, for example, never did that in his life. I loved him, he took care of the family, now he’s gone forever, I don’t want to complain about him. But I was actually very disappointed when I found out that everything would be up to me. I had unrealistic ideas about how men could behave, according to my grandfather. My mom told me about it, I don’t remember him much.

They met my grandmother at a painting course. Grandfather taught her and several other students there. She was almost the same age as him, and because she loved painting, she wanted to get better at it. At first, the teacher honestly tried not to pay any attention to the student except in a professional way, but he quickly found out that this was not possible, that whenever they approached her to discuss something she had painted on the canvas, his legs and voice would shake. And grandma felt exactly the same way, she would prefer to have painting lessons every day if it wasn’t suspicious at home. Her parents thought that she would become a teacher and that she would get a decent job with certainty, but she was not allowed to marry at that time, teachers were not allowed to do that until later, during Czechoslovakia. That was also unfair nonsense, marriage didn’t matter to men, they could study as they wanted when they were married, you’re amazed when you realize that. So my grandmother realized that although teaching is a beautiful profession, she would like to have a husband and a family, so she secretly hoped that maybe she could paint for a living. She talked her parents into paying for her art lessons. Little did they know that there she would meet someone who would put her off her teaching career for good.

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Before long, the teacher asked her for a date outside of class and before long he asked her to marry him. It seemed to the grandmother’s parents that the future son-in-law’s salary should be enough for an ordinary, not luxurious life. They had no doubt that he was diligent and hardworking, so hopefully the young people can live in such a way that their money will work for them.

In the meantime, a war broke out, but luckily, grandfather returned from it. And then finally the wedding and the first child, Grandpa Rudolf was still teaching and once he learned that two students of the art school could get to Paris for art lessons. It was clear to him that his grandmother, who he thought was more gifted than he, had always wanted something like this.

“You’re going to Paris for six months,” he announced to her at home, and she didn’t understand what he was talking about. “For a scholarship stay, you’re a great painter, you have to keep working on yourself,” he continued. “Don’t say anything, I’ve thought about it. I will stay here and take care of the little one, my parents will surely help me. And you’ll get even better there.”

Grandma still hesitated to leave her husband and small child? This was not at all usual at the time, perhaps only rich ladies did it when they went to the sea for a spa stay. And nannies, not husbands, were in charge of their children. But grandpa insisted. “It’s a unique opportunity for you, it won’t cost us anything, you’ll rent a tiny apartment and look around to see as much as possible.” She was sorry that he couldn’t go too, but Rudolf persuaded her parents to let you they persuaded her again. And so she left and it was said to be an exciting adventure. They wrote as much as they could, and with the help of their grandmothers, Rudolf even managed to teach at an art school and send money to Paris to improve it. But this unusual solution was a thorn in someone’s side, so he started receiving anonymous letters about the woman cheating on him. “You’re acting like a fool to be running around a kid here and your bitch is hanging out with artists in France. I myself saw him go to the studio with one of them and do all kinds of things there.” Rudolf could have gotten angry and sent a telegram for the grandmother to come back immediately, but he waved his hand over it. The hard “y” in the word artist told him that the author, or rather the author of the letter, probably invented the whole thing out of envy, jealousy and her own incompetence. “I trust you completely,” he explained to his grandmother when she returned six months later and showed her the letter.

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However, it must have been difficult for him, playing “second fiddle” at a time when a man was expected to provide for a woman completely. But he had no problem saying that she was simply better as a painter and taking care of the children when she was painting. Two daughters were born soon after each other. “I would recommend someone even more skilled,” he said without difficulty to people who wanted to order a portrait of themselves or their children from him. Grandma specialized in them, she loved to paint them. She was very hardworking, and even when there was a crisis and another war, they always made a living. She didn’t mind at all when people paid her for the painting with breadcrumbs or shoes for children instead of money. “After all, it’s better than money, isn’t it?” she always laughed. She did it that way, even when the communists came to power, but someone accused her of making a living by painting, even though she didn’t have an official permit. And so from then on she only painted at home, for us, grandpa continued to teach and she ended up as a helper in the cooperative.

That’s how it was, you know. Well, it wasn’t only difficult around us, our relationships were also difficult. We took Grandpa Rudolph as a model of how men behave. My mom expected other men to treat her dad as kindly and justly. But he was a white crow. For as long as I can remember, my dad never had a kitchen job in his life, and that my mom could go to Paris alone for half a year? And that he would take care of us children himself? He wouldn’t even be able to listen to such an idea to the end. And it was me anyway. My husband was a great person, honest and would give anything for his friends, everyone respected him, including me. He certainly loved me as best he could, but would he ever take care of the kids so I could go to practice, for example? He never, ever assumed that I would arrange for a babysitter elsewhere. He couldn’t make anything but tea until he died, and when he wanted to please me he peeled potatoes. But I’m glad when I see the young dads today, that they already understand women’s and men’s work differently.

SOURCE: Vlasta magazine

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The article is in Czech

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