There are things I do in the line of duty as a stay-at-home dad that I wouldn’t necessarily share with my mates down the pub (on those increasingly rare occasions I can attend social gatherings). Don’t get me wrong, there’s much about being a father that is wonderfully fulfilling but when it comes to childcare, especially with a daughter, any macho pride has to be left at the door in favour of being entertainer-in-chief and dogsbody to the whims of a toddler.
Clambering inside soft play areas
Tilly is getting increasingly competent at soft play challenges but there remain some obstacles that are impassable for her diminutive stature. When this occurs, assuming a kind older child is not on hand to help out, daddy gets called upon to rescue and accompany her around the rest of the climbing frame. Picture a fully grown man trying to squeeze through a course design for the under 9s and you’re in for a comedy treat, not least when you have to negotiate your way around and apologise to other children climbing their way around rather more ably than yourself. Accompanying Tilly down the slides is rather fun though and is received with sympathetic smiles from other onlooking parents.
Being a climbing frame
Any passers-by who unwittingly gazed into our living room might well spot a toddler climbing on my head, sitting on my shoulder like a parrot, riding me like a horse or bouncing on top of me on the floor. This is, I suspect, all to make up for the absence of soft play facilities at home.
While Yoga can be an elegant discipline when carried out correctly, any attempt of my own would succeed only in making hippos in tutus appear delicate in comparison. Although thankfully not a public spectacle, the Cbeebies bedtime hour in our house frequently involves my daughter and I taking part in the Yogo element of Waybuloo, which is essentially yoga for toddlers. Happily, being only two, any absence of grace and poise on my part is overlooked by Tilly and my efforts are still appreciated rather than ridiculed. This is, however, perhaps only to guarantee that I continue fly her around the room to join the floating piplings for the ‘Buloo’ as the programme closes. (This makes sense if you watch the programme. Sort of.)
Causing a scene in public
Although generally well-behaved, toddler Tilly will occasion make a dash towards the road leading me to leap to grab her, letting go of the invariably overloaded pram which then tips backwards catapulting shopping and half eaten toddler food across the pavement. Always a great moment.
Encountering other people on the street
Being British I am extremely apologetic all of the time for a great many things, even if they’re not my fault. Having an extremely forthright and talkative toddler in tow means that decorum goes out the window. Tilly will bellow her observations at any number of passersby but short of shouting an apology across the road myself, there’s little I can do but to don a pained expression on my face. Woe betide should anyone deign to use the same public byway as my daughter. “Go away man! My pavement!” is the dismissive response. Yes, I lecture her after every event but sharing takes time. Going to the library is a similarly fun experience, when Tilly chooses to bellow across the building: “Hello! I am buying books!” I can at least whisper a pathetic “sorry” to the staff.
How do your children embarrass you? Leave a comment and share your experiences!