Being Number 1…

How do you know if you’ve been a good dad, and importantly, if you are a good dad?  In my humble opinion, there is no formula and there is no course you can take to become a good dad.  It’s not like you get a certificate from the School of Excellent Parents. It might surprise some men, but you cannot sit an on-line exam on Facebook either.  You can only do your best. The amazing thing is, your kids will love you for who you are – perhaps not as much when you embarrass them in front of their friends, such as singing, teaching the kids how to break dance or simply just kissing them in front of their friends.

This sounds very flower-power-ish and free spirited, but honestly, relax and enjoy being a dad.  I try to most of the time, but they can drive you up the wall at times too. Looking back at those incidents, you can only laugh at them.  I was pretty annoying at times when I was a kid, according to my dad, but I totally refute that statement.  He can’t prove that I broke the fence in the back garden or caused the dog to have explosive diarrhoea.

The best thing about being a dad is when you come home and you are greeted by the little devils. They run towards you while they hide the permanent makers behind their backs, trying to eliminate evidence of them drawing on the walls.  When you then ask them “did you do this?” they just stare at you with their Bambi eyes and say “no dad, those paintings have been there all the time!”.  You gotta love them.  I’m positive it has nothing to do with them seeing their parents decorate the walls with Disney characters, thinking it would be OK to add their own take on Woody or Buzz.

It’s magic when they come up to you and beg to see a movie with you on the sofa. They hand you the DVD and you insert it, only to discover that it has been used as a hover-board across the kitchen floor tiles, rendering it useless.  We’ve bought so many replacement DVDs of their favourite movies, only to find that they too suffer the same fate as the previous 10 copies.  We’ve learned from our mistakes and have copies stored on the Mac now, so they can be streamed to the TV. Bless Apple.

BUT, one thing that we men can do, and something that the kids do not want to do with their mums, is to play with Lego, trains, Playmobil, toy soldiers, cars, etc.  And, this is to the delight of us dads.  As my previous blog states, we men LOVE to play with toys again and we will use any excuse to prove this to the kids.  I once played with Lego, building castles and jungles, and didn’t even notice that my son was asleep and my daughter had gone to bed – it was only 22.30 (10.30pm) in the evening.  If it hadn’t been for my wife,  I would have played all night.

It is also fantastic to play games with your kids in the pool, again, games that mums don’t want to play (throwing the kids in the pool, up in the air, etc.).  My daughter especially likes sitting on my shoulders while we venture into the deep in the pool. She once told me to freeze, so she could pee on my shoulders!  My son on the contrary would act like a real man. He’d jump out of the pool and stand quietly and pee on the edge of the pool – making it look casual, as if it was just water running down his legs.  However, somehow I don’t think my son will ever forgive me for taking him down the longest and coldest water slide in Latin America – in Costa Rica.

As parents, you just want to make sure your kids are having fun and that they love you.  Although the Beatles once sang, “can’t buy me love”, by God do we still try.  Especially your first child is spoiled rotten.  They need to get the best beds, sheep skins, designer toys and furniture, and of course the best holiday destinations.  How many kids out there can proudly say they’ve been to Mexico, USA, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and several countries in Europe, by the time they are 5?  Not many. We discovered this year that spending a lot of money on holidays doesn’t really matter, as long as they spend time with their parents.

This year we saw, what my wife and I would normally consider boring, so many things with our kids around where we live, and we had a blast.

  • My son pooped in the car while on a road-trip and we just laughed about it – a few hours afterwards of course.
  • Build our vegetable garden and planted useful crops such as leeks and brussels sprouts. We can sell them at the market now. We have so many.
  • Our daughter tried horseback riding, fell off and still loves it.
  • We visited far away places, at least it felt like going back in time, when seeing small villages (with issues) in Northern Ireland.
  • I pooped my pants when I crossed a rope bridge in windy and rainy conditions.
  • My wife learned a new skill, taking over one of my male dominated areas, and became BBQ master of the house.

Kids also know when to embarrass the hell out of you, in public.  Going to the hospital with my son is a learning experience for any man, and to witness how he gets into the nurses bra and claps their bums within seconds is the work of a true master – and he gets away with it.

My clever little daughter speaks English and Spanish fluently, and demonstrated her ability to switch languages on our recent trip to Costa Rica.  She knew that people there spoke Spanish, so she quietly said to my wife one day at the pool (in English) “Mum, look how fat that woman is”.  The woman next to us, the target, looked across and simply smiled at my wife – she spoke English!!

Kids are so honest, all the time. I’m now known as the annoying donkey (Shrek movies) by my daughter, as she thinks it’s annoying when I hassle her to go to bed.

So, how do you know if you are a good dad and parent?  I have absolutely no idea, but I’ll ask my kids.

I try to, most of the time, to smile when they misbehave.  I might have a little outburst when they pour juice into my keyboard or delete an entire music library from the Mac. Then I realize that it was I that showed them how to use the Mac, so it’s my own fault, right?

My advise to you, man to parent, is to let your hair down (if you’ve got any) and enjoy being a parent.  I’m dreading for my kids start to play away from the house, meeting friends at the corner-shop and having sleepovers. I would be up all night, worrying what might happen.  Why can’t they just have sleepovers via Skype?  There must be some technology you could avail of, to keep them safe.  What’s wrong with inserting tracking devices in your kids, to keep them safe?  Imagine combining the tracking with Google maps and you would know EXACTLY where they are – except the image would be static of course, but you get the point.
– I’ll probably call in a few favors if a guy breaks my girl’s heart.

By the way, is it wrong to teach your 5 year old daughter to play Half-life 2 and Command & Conquer?  I just need somebody to play against!

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