I now realise the fundamental flaw in this philosophy; to wit, being dead is not an ideal time to learn life lessons. Some would argue, correctly in my view, that if you haven’t got your head around it by your deathbed then you should probably just let it go.
Lessons I have learnt from being a Dad.
If there is a thing in your house that can choke/strangle/poison/electrocute/bite or otherwise maim your child they will find it.
The change from static, pink blob to mobile, inquisitive dribble machine happens with alarming speed. As such, we were utterly unprepared for such amusing diversions as ‘rolling off the bed’, ‘grabbing electrical wiring’ and, currently our favourite, ‘trying to eat the cat’.
We flit from one narrowly avoided crisis to the next, and whilst we are both intelligent people and have made some pretty sound guesses as to what will be dangerous, adjusting as best we can, there have been some curveballs where we are left wondering how the hell that happened. Like the time he got his finger trapped in the xylophone or the bruising that he picks up from head-butting the end of his cot to let us know he’s awake.
Toys can never compete with iPhones and/or other expensive things.
Honestly, we have so many toys the house is starting to look like a roadside memorial to a traffic accident. Usually these do a decent job of entertaining the boy; until something really expensive is seen which will draw his laser-like focus and he will not rest until it has been picked up, dribbled on, chewed and thrown to the floor.
When I’m rich and famous, I’m going to set up an experiment whereby I introduce increasingly more expensive items to see if the boy goes for them. You know, start with a rubber duck and work our way up to a Faberge egg.
Once this has been completed, I’m going to hire out his services to art valuation companies. Put a selection of rare artwork in a room and watch as he singlehandedly identifies the most valuable piece. That can then be auctioned it for more than the others. I mean, sure, there’ll be some dribble and mashed banana on it and the edges might have some light bite marks but I have no doubt art dealers will be lining up to use his services.
I try to not swear much on this blog because I like to challenge myself to find other ways of express what I’m feeling. This level of Zen-like reflection is not mirrored in real life, particularly when driving. Understandably, the wife doesn’t want our child’s first word to be ‘twat’ and so I have been instructed to stop. We have a swear jar which is currently holding more money in it than Zimbabwe.
The upshot is that I have developed words that are as satisfying as swearing and I’ve started swearing in a mixture of languages. “Alai wah, you stupid, barstan fei jai, pi gu, dew lai noh mor fantwist!’ Which is quite a lot of fun.
Work can go to hell.
Teachers, by default, are conscientious workers. There is simply too much to do in a usual 40 hour week (and yes we work in the holidays as well). Also, the never ending nature of teaching means that you can work insane hours and still not get everything done. It was not unusual in my first few years of teaching to work 80 or 90 hours a week.
Whilst over the years that has dropped, I would still regularly pull around 60 hours a week to get stuff done. Not anymore, I now top out at 50. If isn’t done in that time, it isn’t getting done. I’ve got raspberries to blow on someone’s tummy.
The ultra masculinity of fatherhood.
Aside from the obvious evolutionary kudos of reproducing there is and extreme masculinity wrapped up in being a committed father.
To my mind, there is a societal division between what men are seen to be good at and what women are seen to be good at. Blue jobs and pink jobs, as my father in-law jokingly calls them. However, there is a point when doing something so traditionally feminine becomes inversely more masculine when a man does it with gusto. Like a chap who is so comfortable in themselves that they wear a pink t-shirt in public, it highlights the nonchalant disregard for what is expected. I am a man who choses my own destiny, it says.
It therefore becomes manly to play ‘bop your nose’, sing The Wheels on the Bus or change a nappy. And I’ll chain fight anyone who disagrees.
You can blame it on the oxytocin all you like, I didn’t realise I had a son shaped hole in my heart until it was filled.