Sunday September 25th 2022

Dads Anonymous : when you fall, I will laugh

When the shit hits the fan, you’ve got to be the one calmly wiping it off. Hi, my name’s Shane, and I’m a dad.

The dearly beloved and I had our first major disagreement about parenting when minime was learning to crawl. It was late afternoon, we were all chilling in the back garden, and minime launched himself optimistically towards the dog, only to faceplant into the daisies. My wife ran to his aid full of concern. I laughed uproariously and texted my friends.

Once minime had been dusted off and comforted, DB turned her full venomous wrath on me, intoning: “you must be nice to him.”

And my answer to her was “No, I mustn’t. I’m his dad.”

It’s taken me four more years to prove my point, but I think DB is starting to come round. Yes, we all want our children’s lives to be perfect forever and always amen,  but sadly we live in the real world.  A world that will laugh when they fall over. A world that will not let them win every time because they’re the cutest things on the entire planet. A world that judges you and finds you wanting. Yes, says DB. This is why WE must love and nurture them, and tell them how beautiful and amazing they are, and shower them with adoration and praise.

No, I say. This is why I, as the dad, must give them a pinch of reality every now and again. Must teach them it’s okay to fail, because that’s how you learn. You might not be the best crawler, minime, but you kick serious butt in the resonant chuckle department. Stick with it, and in a month you’ll be crawling that Jones kid next door into submission. You might want to try a little more bounce in your arm action.

And of course I only get to be the strong arm of the parental force because DB is there to be the soft one. But this is what I believe. I’m raising my son to be a man. And so I need to be a man in the process.

When minime reached the ripe old age of 16 months, and started to attempt more adventurous and rigorous physical pursuits, such as bumsliding down the stairs, it became obvious to me that my ever so slightly firm hand was paying off. When minime tripped at the park he didn’t collapse in a self pitying ball of woe, he leapt up yelling “again!”

“You’re paying the medical bills when he breaks his arm,” DB murmured as we cuddled together that night. But she said it while loving and nurturing me and making me feel good. See this is what I’ve learned, as a dad. I will make mistakes. Minime probably will break his arm. And my loved ones will love me through it. And somehow or another, we’ll muddle through this, together, DB, minime and I.


3 Comments for “Dads Anonymous : when you fall, I will laugh”

  • The BabbyMama says:

    I… kind of agree? I don’t run over to comfort my daughter every time she takes a tumble. We prefer to say something like “Was that surprising? You took a tumble! What a great fall!” And it’s made our kid tougher, for sure.

    But laughing uproariously when my kid falls just because the world laughs at us all when we fall? Uh, isn’t home and family supposed to be where you go to get away from the fact that the world makes light of your slipups? Where you know that it’s okay to mess up without someone laughing at you for it?

  • dad's anonymous says:

    I think to be fair to Shane he’s not proposing laughing at the kid whatever it does. Human beings are wired to respond to people falling over with laughter, provided it’s clear there’s no serious physical harm. I think in general what he’s saying is what you’re saying, that we acknowledge the fall without making it into something horrible and terrible and requiring of bandages. Unless it IS something horrible and terrible and requiring of bandages!

  • jamie Pustejovsky says:

    Now I FINALLY get what my husband has been telling me the past year. Thanks Shane for a great read.

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