I’ve been a dad for six years, here’s what I know
Personally, the period of parenthood I’m most looking forward to is 20-odd years from now when I get to be a cranky old man shaking a stick at my children’s unfathomable life choices, like listening to terrifying rock’n’roll music or wearing their hair weird.
But for now, it’s just parenthood through a pandemic where we’ve all been forced to wear ill-fitting hats isn’t it? Pre-Covid I was very at home with the vague approximation of a dad I’d become– a collage of simple roles, each tailored to my limited emotional range. Playful Dad when I was in a good mood, Impatient Dad or Aloof Dad when work was sucking the life out of me, Whining Enforcer if their dicking around put them in danger, or grated too hard on my hangover. It was a predictable loop of predictable personalities. The kids knew where they stood, I knew where I stood. The world span happily. All good.
Then corona hit, blah blah, and for the first lockdown my poor lad went loco. Smash things up loco. Unsurprisingly, too – the last year has been a bomb site of varying degrees for everyone, and if our roles have been blurry to us, imagine how muddling that is for children who were just figuring out who was who and what was what. Parents became all things over night, a variety of square pegs and awkward angles – teachers, friends, sous-chefs, hiders/seekers, stressed-out employees, freelance idiots, at one point I was, apparently, married to my 3-year-old daughter. But in amongst the mayhem, one small role in my children’s life emerged above all others– my role as GOD.
I’ve always been their divine creator, no question – some textbook impregnation-sex back in the day cemented that one – but my role as the all-tinkering mastermind of their destiny really hit its peak when I hoiked the little urchins from a lifetime in the great metropolis (a land of a million Deliveroo options) and took them instead to a small town that occasionally smells of dung. Everyone knows about the Butterfly Effect – the idea that small decisions can ripple outwards and alter existence – but that’s accidentally treading on an insect, this was RELOCATING TO THE FUCKING STICKS!!
That’s universes exploding and I did it. Me (and my wife – very much their Goddess). And now we live in a place that gets cold in a rural way (like where even your BONES feel cold). We’ve got new boots, I’ve got a woolly jumper so authentic it stinks of a barn. My children’s accents will change, their interests will probably be defined by their new town, the place they’ll see as their childhood home. And London, so important to me and my gal for 20 and 30+ years respectively, will just be some stop-off that wafted past them and exists in photos they can’t remember. It’s a huge move. A massive tectonic shift, yet throughout the chaos, one thought has stuck with me – when the dust settles and they’re older, wiser and more able to express themselves, I hope they don’t punch me in the face for this. Or worse still, desecrate one of the shrines. That’d be a real kick in the loincloth.