It plays a tune. It flashes. It makes a hardened, unsentimental dad cry. Listen, I know it was invented by Hallmark Cards (or was it the CIA?) and I know there’s no genuine tradition anywhere of celebrating the contribution of Dads to the world (unless you count the whole of human culture, right sisters?) but I’ve decided I’m all in favour of Father’s Day (or is it ‘Fathers’ Day’?). I was quietly thrilled when my family retreated to the living room to not-very-secretly wrap my Father’s Day gift and this lovely singing card (I thought they’d forgotten!).
Four O’Clock this morning. Olly, our 4 year-old, wakes for a half hour tantrum. Nothing will quieten him, nothing make him happy. Everything is wrong. Nothing can make it right. If mummy tries to help he wants daddy and vice versa. He wants to be in our bed until we agree to let him and then he wants to be in his own… until I try to take him there. He wants a drink until I try to go and get it. He yells ‘go away daddy’, heartbreakingly, until I go away, then he wants me back. The whole thing is a lesson in the implacable illogic of a small child. I suppose this is pre-rational behaviour – primitive, unarguable, terrifying. Discussion is pointless, reason redundant. Right now, the least helpful question in the world is ‘what’s wrong?’ but it’s all you can ask.
In the end, it passes, like it always does, and he’s sleeping again. In the silence I wonder how on earth human beings ever jump the giant gap from scary, tearful there to happy, settled here. Or if we ever really leave it behind.
tigerchild.com is one of the many treasures unfairly knocked around by the ‘great crash’. Running a content web site these days must be a thankless task but the tigerchild people somehow keep delivering a useful and entertaining twist on being and becoming a parent. Anyway, tigerchild.com is now officially ‘brilliant’ ? according to the Sunday Times. Juliet, who is my wife, writes a no-holds-barred column for the site based on her experience bringing up our two kids. For parents it offers a mix of solidarity, reassurance and entertainment and for wannabe parents I reckon it might be a pretty potent kind of aversion therapy! Anyway, Juliet shares in tigerchild’s glowing write-up in yesterday’s Sunday Times. Even I get a mention!