Like many parents, dog owners or alcoholics socialising, the other day I was in a park.
There are these giant logs – let’s call them what they are: tree corpses. And they’re catnip for children. Even when you tell your kid he’s dancing on a tree’s dead body, he’ll still want to climb on it, jump off it, climb back on, jump off again, and then climb back on. Then – when he’s done that – he can jump back off. And before you know it you find yourself saying “ok, five more minutes and then we’ve got to get back.”
And there it is. That first moment in the day when you hear your own dad come streaming out of your mouth like a song you long since thought you’d forgotten but in fact remember every single word to. That’s right. Dad phrases are exactly like ‘Never Ever’ by the All Saints (try it – it’s in there I guarantee).
All parents have this verbal muscle memory, of course. But there’s something significant about men doing it, because we’re meant to be different from our dads. This generation of dads are unquestionably the finest breed of man parents since records began. Anyone who became a dad after about 2010 has a self-righteous smugness, which has now been termed “modern”. And this re-brand is built on some core principles. Pushing a pram is the new driving a scooter. It’s now ultra cool to wear a baby sling, preferably for the shortest, most public, walk possible before your lower back plays up. And finally, deploy some stubble.
Being a dad is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s exhausting, relentless and very poorly paid. The rewards of two beautiful children who I’d literally do anything for (with some caveats) are frankly not enough compensation for the hours of yawning until my jaw cracks and my eyes have so much liquid in them I look like I’ve been maced. Thanks to these tiny people I now know how low my definition of fun can really go (watching traffic jams you’re not in is the new porn), how absorbent my jeans are (who cares? I’m not washing them until they attract foxes), and how little sleep I…