The holiday section of summer is closing for another year, and so I shake the sand off the towel of my existence and prepare to settle into the year routine proper. I can’t help but feel this summer was one of the better ones- full of quintessential defining Dad moments, like I was living a poignant 80’s sitcom. As a Dad of summer, things that you remember once loving come back via your kids and wink at you lovingly again. Like viewing fireworks freshly through the half-closed eyes of a toddler you are forcing to stay up. Seeing Police arrest drunken teens, and the ensuring drama it provides. Ice cream as meal replacement. Getting sand in your pants, ensuring exfoliated skin that only nature can provide (because a beautician wouldn't go there). Enjoying local tourism attractions that would have been impressive only to Eastern Europeans and the under 12’s.
For me, fatherhood kicks me in the shins every time I pack the car for a trip. Nothing makes me feel more like a Dad, or should I clarify my own Dad, than when I’m playing virtual Tetris with a pram, a portacot and a Porter’s monthly portion of luggage. Squeezing bags into crevices whilst muttering like a madman’s mother, all under the duress of some self imposed take-off time. The impending threat of overrunning this scheduled leave time ensures a nice sweat is broken into. The baffling thing about this sweating is that it will happen in any weather, face-melting heat or lip-freezing cold, I’ll be lightly covered in a deodorant defying dew of discomfort. Many of times this scenario played out as we visited family in the rurals and got away to the coast. Each time I felt my ability with packing the car improved, so did my scope as a father. I even managed to undertake the last two attempts without grouching at my wife.
Time spent in hot cars is as Australian as time spent in London. Both have vastly different effects on your complexion. Summer was filled with such trips, up and down highways as the heat chased us from destination to destination. The reign of the iThing means that jillions of songs are available at the scroll of a finger. But when you’re a Dad, the rules state that much like a commercial radio station, only a few CD’s can be in rotation at a time. For us it was The Gaslight Anthem’s ‘Handwritten’. I’m happy my son likes straight up rock, and more than a few montage moments were had screaming together to ‘45’ whilst A-man head banged like an advanced baby bogan.
We hosted our son’s 2nd Birthday party. Blowing balloons and supervising party games is another Dad duty. My own Dad was there in his new found role of Pop. He was a bit flustered, having had to pack up the car earlier that day for the trip down. Here we were, holding the piñata as two 2 year- olds spent a good 30 minutes trying to dint it with a miniature cricket bat. The cricket bat wasn't that effective in cracking through, but was a vast improvement on last year’s device. Why we thought Grandma’s walking stick was the best thing for barely standing 1 year-olds to attack a paper mâché Cookie Monster, is pure proof you don’t know much about kids for first couple of years. Dad knows this so passed on some great advice. ‘Don’t stand directly behind the piñata when the kids swing... not if you’re thinking of having more of them anyway.’
Fixing things is imperative for true manliness and a favoured Dad pastime. The wisdom goes something like this “Women break it, Men fix it.” Just ignore the female majority working in mental health treating majority male patients, or the hunk of teen hearts smashed by Armageddon-era Ben Affleck. This fix-it imperative only increases when children enter the picture. I found myself this summer along with my little apprentice- man nailing nails, assembling tables and beds, starting motors, tightening bolts and digging a hole. There is something rewarding about learning how to make better that which currently is not, avoiding having to pay a professional for it. I may push this ideal as far as I can but early on I suspect things like dental work and optometry may need to be left to the professionals. I’ll just do the stuff around the house.
One thing that did get the better of me was the DVD/Recorder. Stuck in an elctro-loop, the thing kept turning itself off, after I turned it on. It was at this point I realised I was approaching the peak of Dadness. In past cultures, children were reared to protect and provide for their parents and elders when they became weak, vulnerable and old. In modern society it seems we simply breed a new generation to understand and interpret the latest technology for us. As A-man came over with his toy spanner and said ‘I do, I do’ and started banging on the top of the player...I realised in about a years’ time he’ll be able to sort this. Until then I guess I’m stuck watching TV, which isn't so bad...Armageddon is on.
BBQ’s were also had, the Zoo visited, fish ‘n’ chips enjoyed, waves surfed, dogs patted, bikes rode balls kicked (sorry Pop) and dreams dreamed.That last bit is assumed. I can’t get into my kids sub-conscious yet, especially when he’s asleep. The Perceptorator V20 only claims to work when they are awake...at least that’s what I think it says. The instructions are all in Russian.