Fatherly Faux Pa(s) – part 1
A friend of mine recently became a dad for the first time and once he climbed out of the bunker of paternity leave it really struck me how quickly time flies. It seems only yesterday that my two were babes in arms, dependant on us for everything when we were knee deep in nappies and onesies.
It struck me how encountering a new parent is like watching a war movie. You know the scene, the new recruit joins up with his regiment on the front line for the first time full of optimism and youthful vigour, asking where the enemy is. He’s met with silence by the grizzled veterans, each with a five o’clock shadow you could light a match on. Between the silence, someone takes a long drag on a cigarette and mutters: ‘kid, you don’t know nuthin’.
And how could we know anything? There are no instructions, just an industry of baby books and new dad advice from friends and family. Not to mention the occasional unwanted insight from random people who think it’s great to tell you how to raise your child. So far, I think we’re doing okay. There’s been ups and downs. We’ve got plenty wrong and plenty right, and somehow we’re muddling through.
Annual Fatherly Faux Pas
I’ve noticed that we’ve made one fantastic fatherly faux pas year on year, which I will share should anyone need to take some unwanted new dad advice.
I was really looking forward to sharing some of my interests with my kids, where you create a strong bond that will define your relationship. Not in a pushy way, I’m not going to force my children to share my interests, but it happens through a sort of osmosis. In the last few years, my son has variously liked Star Wars, Harry Potter, computer games, toy soldiers, football and now superheroes. This is great, I’m super happy about this. But what we forget every time is that ‘OH MY GOD, MY KIDS ARE OBSESSED!’
The Problems With Kids and Hobbies
They never stop talking about a subject they’re into. Once they start you just have to grit your teeth and strap yourself in because they aren’t going to let this go for a while. On a long car journey talking about Star Wars? Good luck, you’re going to have to explain every plotline and character. Then you’ll be told why you’re wrong by someone who thinks Jar Jar Binks is the funniest thing in the galaxy.
Planning on watching a football match? You might as well put it on mute for 90 minutes as the miniature John Motson pulls out stat after stat whilst telling you just what the problem with VAR is (even though you’re pretty sure he’s just repeating what Alan Shearer said at half-time).
There isn’t a subject your kids can’t put you off. But it’s brilliant, funny and insightful to see how they absorb information and understand it whilst simultaneously having no social awareness of how annoying it can be. My favourite was when my son (not yet ten) calmly asked me why the sword Anduril was renamed after it was reforged from the shards of Narsil. An obvious question for all the dad’s who love The Lord of The Rings right?! I had no response, so he kept asking. And kept asking. And. Kept. Asking.
Until I lost the will to live.
I was tempted to put him on a one-way flight to New Zealand to ask Peter Jackson.
New Dad Advice
So here’s my new dad advice. Take advice from where you need it. Enjoy the ups, learn from the downs.
And for God’s sake, don’t let your kids near your hobbies!
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