Father’s day. Ah… Nice.
The day when father-love turns into hero-worshipping. When the to-do lists are packed away. (At least for the morning.) A day when the wife cooks your favourite meal, when sock and tie and mug collections increase in threefold across the globe. But most importantly on this day, this one day, this special day for dads, you might actually be able to convince your little angels, with their devilish tendencies, to behave and NOT fight with one another. Oh yes, it only happens on this day and the week before Christmas.
I say this because life teaches us that every stage in a child’s life, brings with it all kinds of crap. In the case of infants, it means quite literally: All kinds of crap. And they were all bloody disgusting. Changing diapers tested my control to vomit like no initiation in college ever did. I am always amazed how something so small, cute and lovable, can create something so repelling. It’s like death climb up their little asses and died in there, again.
Then you get to toddlers and feeding time, which basically means trying to stuff mashed vegetables into the locked mouth of a screaming little demon you have loved with all your heart, moments before. You go through every known sound to man, produced by planes, trains and automobiles just to get the spoon in the garage. My effort normally just meant that the content of the bowl was redistributed across their faces, making them look like little pumpkin fritter people. Or Oompa Loompas, you choose.
Then there was the blessing of tantrums. Those wonderful moments in life when you re-evaluate your initial ideas of parenting and fulfilment. When people look at you like you are wearing a tutu in public and you start thinking how much cash you would get for the gremlin that just popped out of Gizmo. Or maybe just leave them there. Calm down, jeeez people, I only did it once.
My kids are now 11 and 13, and I was confident that the worst was behind me, then fate turned me around. In fairness my children has since birth, developed a sense of humour, have the ability to eat at a table with utensils, understand and use the magic words “thank you” and “please”, and can now greet adults with a mumbling “Hello sir”. There is even enough interesting things that happen to them for us to have a meaningful conversation.
But on the flip side…they fight. And I am not talking about the minor disagreements, I am talking about full fledged, second-world-war-type, sibling rivalry. And it is always about the meaningful things in life like; who sits in the front seat or who ate the last apple.
And what really makes it a lot more fun for me? Playing judge and jury. It is like changing a diaper all over again. No, on second thought I’ll rather change a diaper. At least that is something you can train yourself to do well, as I did without breathing.
There are a million theories, guides and rules on how to handle this conundrum, but here’s a few of mine. Please note, I am no Superdad or the Dalai Lama so use these with extreme caution.
1. Ask the wife to sort it out. Employing this rule might result in you hearing some high pitched phrases like: “Be the parent for once in your life” or “They are your kids too. You were quite happy to make them.” So I suggest that you only use this specific rule once or twice a year. Consider yourself informed and warned.
2. When they run into the lounge, find something to do, i.e watch the paint dry. If they persist simply utter words like “uhm” and “yes” and “ok” and “no, that’s not right” and “I’ll talk to him” and “Stop it, Timmy.” Something will hit home and then at least one of them will walk away happy. 50% success! Can’t please everyone right? Remember the use of this rule might also release the wrath of Mom.
3. Never assume that your princess is always innocent. Remember Fiona? She turned into an ogre at night. They WILL employ the Puss-in-Boots-look for greater effect and use other skills you have not even begin to fathom. Stand strong.
4. Don’t always assume it is the same kid. Confused? Watch Diary of a Wimpy kid. Older brothers are evil.
5. If you’ve heard both sides of the story and handed down judgement and punishment, and the “victim” walks away, gloating just a little too much…It means… You.Were.Wrong. 9 out of 10 times.
6. Don’t punish both. Or punish both. I really don’t know, but more importantly let the punishment fit the crime. For example when they argue about who sits where at the dinner table, don’t feed them for the next week. When you finally allow them to return to the table again, the hunger will drive away any need for arguments. See how that works? Other punishments methods include inducing thirst, sleeping outside, not watching TV or playing PS3 and hard labour, but the last one was obvious.
7. Road trips are generally fun for the first two hours, when they asleep. Then it slowly cascades into sing-alongs, playing games, before finally settling into the abyss of agony when they reach the point of “Dad are we there yet?” and the inevitable bickering. Solution? Buy a bigger car with a 7-seater option. Each kid owns their own row, it’s the best investment I have ever made.
So like I always say, Use it. Don’t use it. Your choice.
In all sincerity being a father is my greatest achievement, and being able to write down these anecdotes and stories of our lives is my greatest joy and a small gift to them.
To all the father’s reading this…Have a great one this coming Sunday!!