Saturday 20 December 2014

Brian, you'll have a ball living in a pink wonderland

As a father to two adorable little girls, Graham Clifford knows exactly the culture shock that awaits new dad Brian O'Driscoll

Brian O’Driscoll arrives at Holles Street maternity hospital, Dublin, last night

Standing at a car-hire desk in Dublin Airport last year, I noticed the young lady behind the desk blushing and tittering as she unfolded the written part of my driving licence.

Taken aback I asked sternly "Is there a problem?" She paused and held my licence up in front of me. The entire piece of paper was covered in pink glitter making the print barely legible.

It was a clear case of 'glitter bombing' courtesy of my two young daughters!

As Brian O'Driscoll will discover in the days, weeks and years ahead, little girls can be as mischievous as they are adorable.

When the eldest of my two girls was born in 2006 I have to admit to being a little shocked. Why, I don't know: the odds on it being a girl were obviously 50/50. But coming from a family of five boys, I realised quite quickly after Molly's birth that I was not accustomed with all things pink and fluffy.

In my youth the only thing I'd notice that was pink were the neighbour's pigs. Mud seemed to cover every item of clothing I and my brothers possessed so obsessed were we with football – and if I had to stay indoors, then toy soldiers, racing cars and the Subbuteo football games would be called for.

How times have changed. Today my house is brimming with pink prams, pink guitars, pink dresses, pink bears, pink cushions, a pink keyboard, pink buckets and even a pink toy cash register.

Indeed, over the last six years I've become something of an expert on princess apparel and now fully understand the need for 10 changes of clothes a day.

While our second daughter, Aoife (4), is less of a 'girly' girl, she can still be found wearing a tiara and fairy wings most days and somehow she's convinced our youngest, Aodhan (1), that he too needs to be equipped with a hand bag and wand.

On Sunday I persuaded both of our girls to sit down and watch Ireland's clash with England in the Six Nations with me . . . though within minutes of the kick-off they had decided they would be best employed making Irish flags and dancing around the sitting room singing 'Ireland's Call'!

I think perhaps they humour me at times pretending to be interested in their dad's obsessions but often using the semi-feigned interest to get an extra marshmallow or the latest Dora the Explorer magazine.

As Brian will also discover, little girls can bamboozle their 'auld lads' to such an extent that we become so wrapped around their little fingers it would take the fire brigade to unravel us.

They're bright as buttons, you see – not that boys aren't, but the latter are less adept at pushing the right buttons to achieve the desired result.

Aodhan will try to batter his way through a blocked passage to get to the other side – at his age Molly and Aoife would have thrown me an adorable smile and I'd have removed said blockage (usually a small community of dolls and their buggies) and thrown a cuddle and kiss in for good measure.

I have tried to make tomboys out of them but so far I think I'm losing that particular battle.

In fact, I think the more I make them kick and catch, the greater the possibility of them wanting to plat each other's hair or apply some of their mother's make-up.

It's that difference between the genders which helps cement the bond between father and daughter I feel.

Irish Independent

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