Sunday, August 29, 2010

Daddy-Training

[Prime Minister David Cameron released the first pictures of his new baby daughter this weekend]



Despite the fact that it’s his fourth time round the block, I guarantee that David Cameron will be finding Florence Rose Endellion quite a handful. No hands-on father with a day job could possibly find it otherwise.


I’m assuming he is hands-on, of course, and that Florence isn’t being looked after by a phalanx of nannies. After all, the importance of parenting was one of the Tories’ main election platforms. Didn’t they even have some proposal for child-sharing, with both parents enjoying periods of paternity and maternity leave so that each could experience the thrill of rearing? I doubt that idea will find itself on the statute books in the near future, else we’d be seeing rather too much Clegg on the television for Mr Cameron’s liking.

However there are reports that our prime minister is taking his parental responsibilities very seriously, even preparing himself for the ordeal by enlisting the help of a specialist father-to-be trainer. What a wonderfully modern notion: I wonder how you get a teaching job like that – do you have to have lots of children to qualify, or can you learn it at evening classes? If such a fathering guru had been available in Morpeth, there’s no doubt Jo would have sent me on an intensive course. Although she is always very loyal to me in public, I’m sure my wife could never have predicted how utterly useless a man with five children might be when faced with just one baby daughter.

There’s a website in the United States called greatdad.com, established because, they claim, “Dads don’t always think like Moms”. They’re not kidding. While supermums live in a world of neat sock drawers, baby wipes and set bedtimes, underdads like me don’t worry about little things like cleanliness or safety, precise times or putting on the right clothes.

We love throwing chocolate-covered babies high in the air and hearing them giggle; we dress them in yesterday’s pyjamas and demand a medal when we’ve changed a nappy, which we’re happy to do so long as it’s only one and doesn’t contain the wrong sort of effluent. Sometimes we forget bathtime altogether and treat our babies like teenagers, letting them watch TV till late, eat pizza, and open dangerous kitchen cupboards at will. My notion of discipline is to say no until Izzy cries and then immediately say yes: it works every time. Dads like me wouldn’t know how to sort out a sock drawer if we knew where it was – which we certainly don’t.

After so many children, I shouldn’t really plead ignorance as an excuse, except that, try as I may, I can’t seem to remember a single thing about childrearing. Although she politely asks for my advice on everything, Jo has learned to ignore the learned voice of experience, largely because it’s invariably wrong. The mysteries of controlling, feeding, and generally keeping alive a one-year-old remain secret, despite having observed the entire process at close quarters on four previous occasions.

Meanwhile the Californian rock chick I met seven years ago has, without any training or prior knowledge, transformed into the world’s perfect Mum.



I’m not saying this because it’s our first wedding anniversary today (yes, against the odds and to the bewilderment of some of my oldest acquaintances, Jo has agreed to stay married to me) but because I’m astounded that I could have been so unbelievably lucky as to have fallen in love with two perfect girls, my wife and my daughter.


As for Mr Cameron, once he returns to work after his paternity leave, he could do a lot worse than spending some of the money saved from NHS Direct on supplying free daddy-trainers for every new father. That would certainly win him the mums’ vote at the next election.

{All photos copyright Pam Hordon}

2 comments:

Irritatingly Optimistic said...

Haha love it! You do know where the sock drawer is really though don't you?
Think my hubby went to same parenting class as you. Apparently it's ok to give a hyperactive 7 year old a can of Monster energy drink at 8pm.

Selina Kingston said...

The picture of your wife and daughter is just beautiful. Congratulations on your anniversary.
Fathers and daughters have such a special bond. I have to say I go all soppy when I see men with their baby girls.....yes, even David Cameron !