You can’t be cool as a Dad. You just can’t. You check any coolness that you may once upon a time have had in at the maternity ward when you leave to take your newborn home for the first time. You grin like an idiot as you carry the surprisingly heavy baby in her shiny new car seat that’s built like a small tank through the hospital, smiling at passers by – ‘Yes, she’s mine, I fathered her’ you think, secure and happy in your absurd posturing masculinity.
But despite technically becoming a Father the moment that your first child is born, which in my case was just over 6 years ago now, when do you actually become a ‘DAD’? Because, and it’s taken me completely by surprise, I am emphatically becoming one right now. My Wife has noticed it, and takes great pleasure in pointing it out, and I am suddenly hyper-aware of it.
I have begun, with comical regularity, to unconsciously repeat myself. Only last week as we drove past a village pub not so far from here, I commented ‘we should go there one night.’ Apparently I have said this the last 4 times we’ve gone past said pub. I have no memory at all of this.
I have a chair. A CHAIR! The most Daddish thing of all time. It’s in our living room and the kids have strict instructions not to jump up and down on it. (The little shitbags do anyway of course, but not when I’m around. I conducted a full interrogation recently when I found biscuit crumbs on it). I never had any kind of chair strategy I should point out; not once when my Wife was pregnant with our first child did I think ‘Yes! Now I’ll get my own chair’, it just somehow inexplicably happened.
Next to DAD’S CHAIR on a given night, might be a pair of well worn and comfortable suede leather moccasin-style slippers that I just happen to own and love these days. (Oh that feeling of kicking off your boots after a long day and putting them on!) I had no slipper game at all until recently. I had nothing against them, they just weren’t my bag. They were for old fellas. DADS. I don’t even know where these slippers came from, they just magically appeared one day. And I love them as much as my Children. Maybe more.
I laugh at my own crap jokes. Manically. Hysterically. Both when I post them on social media, and in real life when i say them out loud. I vividly remember my Dad doing this on a regular basis. Splitting his sides as my sister and I groaned at another weak effort. Now I’m doing it too. WTF is happening to me?
I have a got a ‘Dad voice’. A DAD VOICE! It actually changes on it’s own when I’m telling the kids off for some minor infraction of the house rules. It drops several octaves until I sound like a Welsh version of Barry White. And I address them with both their first and middle names when I do this too. Who does this? DADS, that’s who.
I dance like an absolute Dickhead. Vigorously and often. But to be fair, I’ve always done this. It’s just that becoming a DAD has completely legitimised it. This, ladies and gentlemen, is one of the very best things about being a DAD.
I’ve never been particularly competitive. I’ve always been a bit laid back to get worked up about these things. Until now. At my eldest’s first sports day last Summer I was momentarily tempted to take out the 4 year old who was beating her by a yard in the egg and spoon race. I compromised by shouting encouragement at my Daughter so loudly that I distracted her and she dropped the bloody egg and came in 3rd. I didn’t speak to her for a week. (I’m joking obvs. It was only two days).
But even after all these giveaways, it’s the things I’ve started to regularly say that are the real killer. The DAD phrases and pithy soundbites that my Dad before me used, and his Dad before him too. Handed down from Father to Son through the generations and mists of time like sacred relics, and now in 2016, it’s my turn. It’s. My. Turn.
‘Because I said so’ was the first of course. It just came out of my mouth one day a few years back to my great shock, when my Daughter had asked why she had to put her toys away. That’ll teach her eh?. I say ‘Less talking, more eating’ to them all as they jabber away like monkeys at dinner time. On an almost daily basis I rampage around the house turning down radiators, switching off lights, and closing doors whilst yelling ‘Were you Kids born in a barn?’, and I give advice in the form of specialist Dad idioms like ‘Money doesn’t grow on trees’. Jesus wept.
I haven’t used my own Dad’s personal and oft-repeated favourite ‘This isn’t a holiday camp y’know’ yet, but it’s only a matter of time. Because this is the frightening thing of course. I’m not just turning into A DAD, i’m turning into MY DAD. And not only in character either; I’m starting for the first time to look like him. I’ve always been more like my Mum’s side of the family. Fair hair and blue eyes. But now at the age of 38 and rapidly going grey, I’m physically starting to morph into him. I can tell you that it’s quite the shock at 3 in the morning when half asleep and semi-naked you stumble into the bathroom and see your Dad looking at you in the bloody mirror.
But you know what? Despite all these things; the repeating myself, the jokes, the dancing, the voice, the competitiveness, the sayings, all that stuff – It’s all good. I’m at peace with it. I’m fine. Because being a Father (and now a DAD too) is without a shadow of a doubt the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me. Nothing in my life has ever come close to the unbridled happiness it brings me on a daily basis.
Except for maybe sitting in my own chair after a long day on the farm, with my slippers on.