Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Transforming into a ‘Proper Dad’

So this is what its like to be a dad. Pride swelling your chest every time your progeny makes a ‘dada’ noise. Casting a watchful eye over your child as they potter around outside while you’re gardening. Offering or responding to knowing nods with other dads at the park or the pool or at the shops. I can check them all.

What else have I done now that I’m a member of the ‘Dads Club’? Hmmmm.

Well, I decisively initiated a democratic house voting structure, which James and I put to good use while still in hospital, thus enabling us to bond over a game of one-day cricket. (Baby James clearly indicated that he wished to cast his vote along gender lines in order to break the deadlock between Kylee and me).

Wisely or unwisely (time will decide which), I can also tick the following from the list:
 Encouraged son to pull finger (much to suffering wife’s horror but son’s amusement)
 Initiated wrestling as the arbitrary activity to relieve any period of boredom
 Allowed son to lick the top of a ‘brown’ bottle (of course it was empty)
 Bought son a sausage in bread from Bunnings (I got to eat most of it, therefore win/win)
 Brought out old CD’s and started playing them more frequently to expose son to good music (i.e. my taste in music)
 Timed outings to coincide with ABC Grandstand’s cricket coverage (son appears to find Kerry O’Keefe amusing too)
 Mentored son in the sweet art of raspberry blowing

I have another list too. It contains a number of activities and behaviours that I am yet to engage in, but as a dad I am entitled to exercise an option that allows me to:
o Wear budgie smugglers to ANY beach or public pool
o Assume the roll of the ‘fun’ parent (requiring Kylee to take on the role of the parent who says ‘No’)
o Wear t-shirts with ‘witty’ slogans such as Chief Jackson’s ‘Lordy, Lordy, look who’s 40’
o Grow a moustache outside of the month of Movember
o Rely upon hyperbole for humorous effect, while using the excuse of ‘never let the truth get in the way of a good story’ when challenged (actually, I might have done this one already)
o Teach (by showing) how to apply finger locks or knuckle holds

I had cause to consider these lists of things that dads are allowed to do the other day. (By the way, I’m sure they’re acknowledged under international treaty and soon to be ratified in a UN Convention on Dad-hood.) Anyway, I was sitting at the library with 15 or so other parents waiting for our children to receive their vaccination when I realised that I had my t-shirt on inside out. I considered all of the errands that I had done prior to this moment. My brain, Homer-like, went ‘Oops’, then my shoulders shrugged in ‘Oh well’ fashion, brain followed with ‘maybe you could change it here’ … slight delay … ‘probably not’ … this was clearly a stroke of good fortune for those present. I looked down at the squirming bundle in my arms, had a chuckle to myself as I suggested to James that he might like to strap himself in, as I can see myself, either consciously or not, causing no end of embarrassing episodes (particularly through his teenage years) for him to suffer.

These moments though will be formative in his development, as they were in my own, for you see, I wasn’t worried by appearing in public with my shirt on inside out. Hell no, it could have been on back to front too for all I cared, because do you know what? I didn’t give it another thought until Kylee arrived home and almost immediately observed, ‘your shirt’s on inside out’. ‘Were you like that all day?’ ‘Oh my goodness, did you go out like that?’ ‘Oh, James, how embarrassing for you.’

This resulted in my sniggering, followed by the ticking of another one off the list.

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