Author Stephen Giles’s first Father’s Day was as uneventful as his son Oliver’s first Christmas and birthday.
For every ill-judged trip to a library or historic monument there was a fun shopping spree or an afternoon sprawled over the floor watching cartoons. I wouldn’t have missed or traded a moment as he changed from a helpless newborn to an aware, responsive crawler. Then when my wife left work and I went back full time, we shifted the boundaries again, onto more traditional lines. This put me back into dad mode – a playmate and fellow conspirator against the suspicious rules of good behaviour that were creeping into everyday life. Which brings me to reward number three, the opportunity – no, the necessity – to act like a child with your child. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been so engrossed in a toy that he’s wandered off and started the washing up without me noticing. We giggle together and invent stupid games that revolve exclusively around fart noises. He thinks I’m really cool because I can blow bubbles. I haven’t been thought of as cool since… well, I haven’t.
More toffee please
If these rewards aren’t enough, there are also fringe benefits, like the chance to brag about your child’s milestones and achievements with lesser dads (only works if yours is gifted or if you’re a gifted liar) and the opportunity to drive as if you’re in a remake of the film Speed (but the bus has been replaced by a sensible family estate car and the bomb is set to go off if you pass 35 mph).Ultimately, if the effort put in by the average father in the first year of their child’s life was measured out in material worth, we’d all wake up on Father’s Day as proud owners of Caribbean islands or fleets of Lamborghinis.
But the best I can hope for this year is more toffee – and I wouldn’t change it for the world.