11 things no one admits about being a Dad
Men like to keep certain things secret, especially the fact that most of us are oversized children
Three and a half years in as a father - and with another baby imminent - I've become prone to (often painfully honest) reflection on the realities of parenting.
Because it's not all sweetness, light, and moments to treasure forever.
Not for us dads, anyway, many of us are still the immature, selfish, social inadequates we always have been. Not that we like to admit it, of course, which is why we keep many truths about being a dad secret, lest we be outed as the oversized children we really are.
Here are just some of things we think, but would rarely say out loud - especially in earshot of other parents (ie mums).
1. Sharing is rubbish
I hate sharing. Always have done. So while I'm socially bound to teach and enforce the virtues of sharing, if another child at a godawful play area makes a grab for my kid's own toy, I'm struck with a rising panic that this tiny thief will
a) break the toy
b) lose it
or c) not give it back when I ask, making me look utterly pathetic in front of the other, much more manly dads. But rather than say anything, of course, I just hand it over and tell my son bold-faced lies about how good it is to share.
2. You actively dislike some other children
Some of your kid's little friends are lovely. Some will be heart-warmingly adorable when you watch them playing together. Others, however, will be awful little gits who you take an instant, somewhat irrational, dislike to.
They might be biters, hitters, whingers, or one of those kids that has a constant glob of thick snot on their upper lip, which turns your stomach.
Never mind that you're only three-years-old, sunshine, I just don't like the cut of your jib.
3. The songs from Frozen are actually really good
I used to think there should be a support group set up for dads with Frozen songs permanently stuck in their head. Now I've come to terms with fact the songs are stuck there for a reason - because they're bloody brilliant.
And not only that, but we're always secretly chuffed when the kids choose to put their Frozen DVD on. And we're not lesser men for admitting it either.
4. Making friends with other dads is painful
As if us men weren't already in a terminal state of being embarrassed about something, we have to fumble through awkward conversation with other dads just because our children have decided (rather selfishly) to start playing together.
If you're lucky, your child's pitiful attention span will save the day and they'll wander off, allowing you to make your apologies. If you're unlucky, you'll both get dragged into the kids' game - a pair of strange grown men playing make-believe with each other.
5. You become skilled at feigning deafness
Yes, I heard my son crying at 3 o'clock this morning. And yes, I pretended to sleep through it. Sorry about that, but I couldn't be bothered to get up. In fact, I'm not even that sorry.
6. You still find bigger kids intimidating
No matter how old we get, we're all still troubled by the same fears and anxieties. So if you're in the playground with your little one, and a mob of older, bigger, more boisterous kids march your way, it's still as scary as when you were little yourself.
Of course, now it's not a fear of being duffed up, but that you might have to dad-up and tell them off - and even worse, they'll see you for the sham of an adult you are and laugh in your face.
7. You become emotionally involved in kids' TV
Postman Pat is the personification of incompetence in the workplace, losing the post on a daily basis (I once saw a horse steal a package from the back of Pat's van when he was looking the other way). Daddy Pig is an utter buffoon who claims he's an expert at everything, but cocks up every DIY task. Mr Bloom has lost touch with reality to the extent he now converses with vegetables. Honestly, it's hard not to get emotionally involved when you see yourself so tragically reflected in the characters on screen.
8. Swearing at your child can be good
Not to their face, obviously, but behind them with your fingers when they're being unbearable. I'm pretty sure you're not a proper dad until you've flicked your kid the Vs and mouthed "eff off" when they've turned their back.
9. Your Lego habits haven't changed
Here's how it goes: you have an idea for a very ambitious Lego project. You remember you're a dad now and can do Lego under the pretence of "playing". You begin building it with your kid, instructing them to do a rubbish bit so they don't mess up your good, proper bits.
You realise you don't have the Lego skills or patience to see the project through. You abandon it and blame it on your kid for taking the good bricks.
10. You never lose your competitive edge
They might only be two feet tall, and look up to you with the kind of dewy-eyed love that could break the stoniest of hearts, but nutmegging a toddler in the back garden is no less satisfying than doing it to a 12-stone IT consultant on the five-a-side pitch. You might resist it to spare their little feelings, but the urge to annihilate your children in every form of competition - whether it's a quick race to the sandpit, a pretend lightsaber duel, or particularly heated round of Hungry Hippos - is quite overwhelming.
11. Your career can stop you from going mad
A colleague once told me he works as many days as possible because it's the only way he can get away from his family and stay sane. At the time I thought it was a dreadful, shallow, joyless thing to say. In hindsight, it was probably the single greatest piece of advice I've ever been given.