In which our reluctant hero convinces himself that not everything is his fault.
Having survived the holidays, liked the obligatory “kids in new uniforms photo” and resumed our work and school routines, I checked plans for the next few weeks. To my surprise and horror, Google Calendar was bursting with stuff. How curious.
On closer inspection, almost every new entry that wasn’t work related contained the word “party.” Gawd.
It always puzzles me why there’s quite so many birthdays around this time of year. It’s a proper mystery. But, a mere nine months after several weeks of alcohol fuelled Christmas madness, children’s birthday party season has again kicked off in earnest. No, YOU do the maths.
If you think that your own children’s parties are bad enough, then other people’s children’s parties are definite no-go zones. Forced socialising while sneaking sausage rolls and half-heartedly telling the kids to stop smashing up some other fool’s house or garden, you say? It’s a fate worse than a fate worse than death. And that’s pretty bad.
While I sat pondering potential exit strategies, yet another Facebook invitation pinged up on my wife’s phone.
“Ooh. Look. So-and-so are going to this one. They must have kids now.”
“They had kids before. Don’t you remember last time we saw them? That’s all that they went on about. It was so dull. And I think she’s a teacher now. It’ll be twice as bad.”
“That’s all you go on about now.”
Yes, yes. This may well be the case since that precious moment when Mr Stork delivered his bundle of what-am-I-supposed-to-do-with-that-ness. But I point blank refuse to accept the blame for it. Let me explain…
The downward spiral starts with identity theft, which is a big problem in an age of Interwebs and stupid people who can only think up one password. Becoming a dad is like having your wallet pinched and online accounts hacked on the same morning. No, really.
I used to be a man (well, close enough to one) called Paul. Shortly after becoming a parent I wasn’t.
“I think it’s so-and-so’s dad.”
“Hasn’t he gone to look old? And fat.”
How rude? I am not a number… I AM A FREE MAN! Anyway, what do I care? I’ve still got my friends. Take that, people at baby groups!
In the olden days, friends were actual real-life people to have an occasional pint and chew the fat with. When I checked this morning, my wife and I had 58 “friends” in common on social media. Or 58 common friends that we both know. Or something.
Now I’m not even sure that I know 58 people, let alone have 58 friends. The only thing I have in common with many of these commoners is having got amorous at about the same time (not together, to clarify) in the distant past, so why they want to be my new bezzie mate is beyond me. But in they trot, because slamming virtual doors into the faces of people who you don’t know is apparently rude. Bah.
Your gate-crashed timelines become slowly saturated with mum and dad boasts, awful anecdotes, nauseous memes and blurry/wonky photos of who knows what. Worse still are those annoying parent blogs, written by terrible self-deluded narcissists who think that they have something relevant or interesting to say. They don’t. They probably also think that they’re clever or funny too. They’re not.
All traces of your former self are eroding. Separating the real you from the semi-fictional representation of people’s perception of what you have become is difficult. In a futile attempt to combat this, I have recently written and shared more posts about other interests. It’s a warm feeling seeing my eclectic mix of interesting stuff being ignored as well as my blog.
At this point, you may panic, bin your phone and consider going out. Don’t bother. It won’t end well.
These days, leaving the house usually involves taking the kids places or going shopping for kid stuff with the kids. Meals out are a modern-day endurance test. If you actually manage the pub, it will be on a “Daddy Date” which means being surrounded by half a dozen blokes who don’t understand the offside rule but have an unhealthy knowledge about extended rear facing car seats. Joy.
A possible escape from this relentless bombardment is work. This is fine in theory, but work is full of the sorts of people who you work with which never bodes well for anything if we’re honest, let alone your sanity. Or fun.
To add further insult to injury, it’s nailed on that you’ve fallen behind the times.
New music has gone all loud and shouty and you play Candy Crush to be in with the kids that it was never aimed at. You may occasionally try using modern language, innit, and emojis but everything comes out like it’s your grandad doing it. *Tim out of The Office face, plane crash, thumbs up*
At least your All Stars still look cool though. They must do. The Prime Minister has the same ones. Oh.
Panic not, there is always the dead time spent commuting to do something enjoyable. But what? Something creative? Reading? Forget it. Any life experiences that you can still recall are by now exclusively child related, and you won’t have the energy to finish the latest Biff, Chip and Kipper let alone Infinite Jest.
So it isn’t your fault, dads. You’ve been daddified and there’s nothing you can do about it. Despite best efforts, you’re as dad a dodo. Get used to it.
On a positive, the kids may leave home in fifteen years or so. Finally, some proper “you” time. Unless, like me, you will be approaching sixty and all that’s left to do is become gradually more right wing and another twenty years of work so that you can afford to retire.
Be seeing you.