I’m a Dad. Actually a “Dadda”, which I prefer and wish to hold on to because a large part of me doesn’t want the progression from “Dadda” to “Daddy” to “Dad” to “the Old Man” to “see him – that mumbling, shuffly old geezer in the corner”. And Dadda-Dancing somehow conjures more sweet rather than cringe-making images than Dad-Dancing. At least to me; self-delusion is an excellent quality to possess.
This isn’t a particularly worthwhile blog. It’s not meant to give any insight into how to handle your child chucking food on the floor in disgust at your painstakingly prepared, properly “chefed-up” meals or not wanting to go to bed even though they are out on their feet, or how to deal with the relentless, overwhelming guilt when funny dancing turns to dizziness and laughter which turns to falling over and head-bumping and angry, bewildered, blaming tears. Or even how to deal with the loss you feel when you walk out the door early in the morning not having seen your child knowing that tonight by the time you get home they will already be in bed.
So it’s not particularly helpful. Sorry.
I’ve had a burning desire to be a Dad four times in my life. The first aged 19 and in the throes of a with-the-benefit-of-hindsight foolish infatuation affair where the image of my older self (21 or 22 maybe) driving my sleeping partner and child in a white convertible Triumph Stag over the crest of a Swiss mountain road as dawn broke and the sun glinted on their golden hair and an eaglet circled overhead as I was on my way to lead my world-famous band out on the European leg of their sold-out tour. Or something like that.
The second time in a stark booth in a fertility clinic trying desperately to get interested in some fleshly images while being able to hear word-for-word the “she didn’t”, “she did too!” of the laughing nurses through the paper-thin walls while my wife waited patiently in an upstairs ward, all the while unhelpfully recalling the damning story of Onan told to me by a bearded monk/tormentor from my schooldays.
The third time a few weeks later, staring in awe at two fertilised eggs lounging about on a petri dish and wondering how on earth that was supposed to translate into bouncing babies (I had failed my biology O-level, of course).
The fourth time reading PeepO to a 13-month old stranger while she slowly fell asleep leaning against my stomach.
And every day since then.
She sleeps in our house now. Sometimes in her own bed, sometimes over my shoulder causing me spinal erosion for fear of switching positions and waking her, sometimes prone on her Mummy’s tummy when she’s not feeling well, but always, I like to feel, somehow innately secure in the knowledge that however many times she tries to playfully poke the dog’s eyes out with Upsy-Daisy, no matter how often she throws up on my suit, or screams the house down because we gave her what she asked oh-so-politely for but a millisecond later randomly decided was the worst abomination any parent has ever inflicted upon a child, or however many times she decides that strawberry yoghurt and honey is actually better as a styling mousse than a food substance, or terrifyingly further down the road how many totally unsuitable (i.e. actually existing) prospective partners she brings home for us to meet, she is and will always be loved. And that’s what it’s like being a Dad(da).
If only I had the Stag my life would be complete.