Being a dad. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
Actually, it totally is – and then some. But parenthood was never supposed to be easy, was it?
And there are times when you’re so fired up with putting on a positive, social media-tinged front you’re reluctant to admit the inconvenient truths – the little things about your kids, and the act of raising them, that drive you bonkers.
(And just for the record, gents: the more of these you deny, the more we know they’re true.)
1. You’re far more competitive than you’re willing to let on
Not necessarily with the kids, although there are times when the Monopoly sessions go sour.
But the sight of other fathers buying better stuff for their kids or – shock horror – possibly even being better parents is enough to turn even the most placid of dads into a green-eyed monster.
Solution? Avoid other people, as much as you can. Problem solved.
2. Bathtime is boring
Really, really boring. They just sort of sit there, while you keep an eye on them in case there’s an accidental submersion. Unless they suddenly defecate, in which case you find yourself hankering for a bit of boredom.
To circumvent this clock-watching state of affairs, I tell my kids a story, in the style of a CBeebies special guest. ‘Three…four…there, that’s all the rubber ducks lined up. Oh, hello! I’m Daddy…’
Over the years I’ve got quite good at this, although now that he’s hit puberty my eldest is a little less enthusiastic.
3. You say you were asleep, but you really weren’t
‘Oh, how long has she been crying? I’m sorry, I didn’t hear a thing.’
There is nothing that hones your ability to feign sleep like the prospect of having to comfort a screaming child in the wee small hours. You’ve even mastered the burbly snoring.
Ladies, here’s a tip: we only look asleep. We’re not. Give us a poke.
4. You sort of want your children to get older quickly so you can introduce them to all the great books, films and TV shows they’re currently too young to experience
‘I mean, he’s ten. He’ll probably understand The Matrix, won’t he?’
All kids are different – some are ready for certain types of content earlier than others – but if you’re like me, you’ll have learned the hard way that sometimes you can show kids things before they’re really ready.
Free advice: your child can wait – and so can you. In the words of Take That, just have a little patience.
5. You secretly relish solo supermarket trips
Stop making it out to be a tiresome chore that you’ll do with a willing heart to give your exhausted partner a break. It’s a chance to wander round the Blu-Ray section without a three-year-old tugging at your arm, demanding Haribo.
6. You frequently find it difficult to like other children
Because other children are whiny snotbags. Not like yours. Yours are great.
7. You’re not always as attentive as you could be
‘Seriously, I turned my back for five seconds, and there he was, standing on the table with the meat cleaver.’
Whereas the truth is you were on Facebook. In another room, at the opposite end of the house. You big fat liar, you.
8. You miss the sex
Advance warning for expectant fathers: once you have children, you will probably wind up having less sex than you’re used to. For a while you won’t have any at all.
We say we don’t mind. But sometimes we do. Sorry.
9. You hover in the doorway when the kids’ TV presenters appear on screen, just in case they’re wearing particularly flattering outfits
Complain about objectification if you want, ladies. If you can have Mr Bloom in a wetsuit, we can rejoice in the aesthetic charms of Rebecca Keatley.
10. Junk modelling is hell on earth
Particularly at those children’s centre ‘family sessions’. Why? Because your kids tire of it long before you do, and by the time you notice, your creative instincts have kicked in, and it’s too late.
You find yourself scouring the room for something sharp enough to punch a hole through a plastic lid, because the scissors are too rounded and in any case the little girl with the purple dress and the pigtails has been hogging them for FIFTEEN MINUTES while she cuts out paper doilies.
You’re trying to glue the end of a toilet roll to a cardboard box but it won’t stick, so you switch to sellotape, but that doesn’t work because the end is stringy and you just wind up with little shreds.
The yellow felt tip has run out and the orange is nowhere to be seen, and your children have been drawing on their hands because they’re bored.
But you want to see this through, because you’ve started and you’re damn well going to finish. And then it’s not a junk modelling session anymore; it’s a quest, and you don’t care if your kids are now running riot by the Stickle Bricks – you will, dammit, you will finish this robot you’ve started to make, with or without their help.
And don’t get me started on Lego. Really, don’t.
11. You have been known to eat crisps, a handful at a time, from their hiding place behind the flower pot
Or else it’s chocolate, secretly consumed in the bathroom.
Look, I think mums do this as well, don’t they? Please tell me they do…