Parenthood

The Year of Living

By Alasdair Cunningham.

I was going to add the word ‘Dangerously’ to the title, but that’s not how we roll here at Daddy Diaries, we like to keep things at a more sedate pace. Not because I’m anxious or scared, but because I feel ancient and my kids are young, and it’s easier if they keep up with me than the other way around.

Don’t get me wrong; we still have loads of fun. Bikes get ridden, knees and elbows get scraped, and sometimes tears are even spilt, and even though it’s always me that’s getting hurt and doing the crying, we still manage to have a marvellous time, and they get to have a good laugh watching their old-man acting like a loon. You can do that with your kids you know, cut loose and act like an idiot. My favourite is reading them stories that I act out with ever-increasing levels of silliness by jumping on beds, pulling weird faces and putting on ridiculous voices for the various characters. I’m like Daniel Day-Lewis,  except for kids, and I’m doing Fantastic Mr Fox instead of the Gangs of New York.

Another thing I love doing with the boys is my patent-pending, silly dances to loud music. I suppose all my dancing looks ridiculous because, well, I’m a Dad, with three left feet, whose moves my loving wife calls creepy. We pump the music up and cut loose, like Calvin and Hobbes, and for those few glorious moments, I’m Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers and John Travolta, all wrapped into one magnificent ball of unselfconscious fun. You wouldn’t catch me doing it outside the confines of the house though, but in front of my kids, I get to play the fool because there’s nothing I won’t do to make them laugh.

It’s not hard, making them laugh, just saying the word ‘bum’ to my boys makes them dissolve in paroxysms of mirth; it still makes me laugh too, so I have a sneaking suspicion that they’re probably not going to grow out of that any time soon.
Also, having played the role of chauffeur on several school trips this year for both my sons and some of their class buddies, I can safely say that whatever conversation they are having, someone will ALWAYS slip in the word ‘poop’, come rain or shine. It must be ‘Kids Law’ or something. I was just relieved to find out that it wasn’t only my two reprobates that spoke like that.
But we have lived this year, maybe not with crazy trips to Paris and other exotic climes, but with laughter, and picnics, and time on the beach, and also just by being there, with them, being present, not sticking my face in a cellular phone or worrying about work. That I like to keep to my own time like 3.00 am when I am trying to sleep.

And speaking of years, this one has flown by like greased lightning. If it was a sandwich, it would have been devoured in two bites, nom-nom. I take a certain amount of year-end satisfaction being able to look back at how much my boys have grown. Not just physically, but also emotionally over the last few months. The difficulties that my eldest faced starting Big School are all forgotten now, and I can honestly say that it hurt me far more than it hurt him having to leave him amongst his peers looking like a snot-covered tyke from the cast of Oliver or Les Miserables. But he got over it faster than I expected and was quick to chastise me in that ‘exasperated’ tone all kids learn at birth – that he was fine and he would see me later.
Swimming lessons began in January, and my youngest has moved from looking like the Loch Ness monster wrestling an unseen foe in an aquatic fight to the death to two Loch Ness monsters in an aquatic fight to the death; we’re getting there. Baby steps… or Baby Shark steps should I say.

Languages are being learned, and my wife and I can no longer spell things out to one another as the eldest has mastered that skill with remarkable ease. We’re just going to have to learn to keep our social commentary about the other parents until bedtime.
‘Kimometers’ has finally become kilometres, and whether it is a unit of speed, time or distance is anyone’s guess, as my boys use it very fluidly. I think that ‘How many kilometres to the weekend Dad?’ is a very valid question indeed. And on the biology front, we have gone from ‘What do you mean I can’t pick my nose in public?’ to ‘Dad, how many megalodons could Godzilla eat in one sitting?’
Yeah, it’s been a great year, even though it all feels like a bit of a blur. All I can say is that I’m looking forward to more of it next year. Who knows, I may even add the Dab and the Floss to my dance routine. Only time will tell.

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