Every dad these days has had the unique experience of hearing the moms and nannies go silent when they show up at the swing sets in the park with their toddler, like the western saloon when the Man with No Name walks through the swinging doors. A full generation of parental hysteria has cleared suburban streets of kids playing unsupervised, but it’s also made lone men suspect when they enter what have now become “safe” – i.e. female-dominated – spaces.
When it’s not considered either tragic or potentially criminal, taking children on transit is actually considered heroic. Even after two years of ferrying my kids to and from school every day, I still hear fellow parents react to our bus journey of a scant twenty minutes (in good traffic) like I’ve carried my kids, book bags and all, on my back over an Alpine pass to escape the Nazis.