March of the Daddies

I was sitting at home last Sunday on the couch with my boys trying, with little success, to watch a wildlife documentary on the Serengeti -Oh the rock n’ roll lifestyle of the comedian- when I came to a remarkable realisation.
As I watched a proud lion try to maintain his dignity while his cubs climbed all over him and swung out of his ears I caught sight of myself in the mirror and realised I was doing the exact same thing.
I must admit that I am a Leo and have a huge mane of long blonde hair but this wasn’t the only catalyst in my latest epiphany.
We are all familiar with the notion of the protective mother. Many  wildlife documentaries highlight the massive risks associated with getting between a mother Grizzly Bear and her young or the fate of a hapless hyena who foolishly attempts to dine out on a lioness’ cubs. The results are, without exception, quick and brutal.
Fathers in the animal kingdom have a slightly worse PR team. Sure, they are known as hunters and providers but with the exception of the Emperor penguin, fathers on the whole are never praised for their child minding abilities.
We just sit in the shade while occasionally letting out a roar to let the world know who’s boss and drag in the occasional gazelle carcass to keep the lioness off our backs. This notion, like the notion that men are better drivers, is as far from the truth (please ignore last months column) as the government are from solving the economic crisis.
I have taken care of Leon since he was three months old and when my wife returns to work at the end of her maternity leave I will be taking care of two.
All on my own.
Without dropping them.
Or starving them.
Or leaving them on the bus.
The hands off father is now the exception rather than the rule. Dad’s are no longer afraid to express their love for their kids and while some men show it in unusual ways it’s still patently obvious.
We are hands on.
There is nothing quite so funny as listening to the father of a newly toilet trained child giving instructions through a cubicle door while cringing with embarrassment as they interrogate the wee one on proper toilet procedure.
Yesterday, I dropped Leon off at school, went to buy groceries, went to the opticians then went to the DVD store and came home. A happy productive morning until my wife pointed out as I walked through the door that I had not one, but three, different streaks of poo on my jeans. Some men would be mortified, I however wear them as a badge of honour.
I am a dad. Albeit a smelly one but a dad nonetheless.
I have walked where lesser men fear to tread.
I have taken a baby into a mothers and babies group.
There is nothing quite like the mixture of incredulity and resentment focused on a man when he walks into a domain reserved for women, some of whom still aching from delivery and suffering through cracked nipples and stretch marks.
I don’t blame them for a second.
In I would breeze, all relaxed and smiley suffering from at worst, a major case of sleepiness.
The greatest physical demand pregnancy puts on a man is late night runs to the 24 hour garage for bounty bars and hummus.
So in I would stroll, the proud lion, I would sit, cross legged in a circle with all the others with my booming tenor voice I feel adding a certain dignity to “the wheels on the bus”.
It was only after a few weeks of this that I came to the realisation that my four month old had no idea he was in a support group for babies and would be just as content on his play mat at home, so I left the lionesses to their corner of the savannah and headed out to teach my child to hunt, or at least use a spoon.
I love my boys.
I have ironed a school uniform dry at eight forty five in the morning.
I have put a band aid on a wounded teddy.
I am a real dad and I have earned my title.
I remember once walking into a public loo in time to hear a father say
“ just keep wiping son, we’ll get there”.
What better indictment is there of real dads. Our kids don’t poo alone. We are a team, and as long as there are loving dads and bountiful supplies of loo roll we’ll all get there in the end.

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