Being a dad means playing the long game, so don’t go bragging about your mini-me too early.
I spend a lot of time at backyard barbecues and little kids’ parties. (I’ve got kids of my own. Grow up.) Children’s parties are a real treat. I’ll spend most of the time politely listening and nodding to relative strangers, my blinks getting longer under my sunglasses.
I’ll try to showcase my interest every now and then with a “waterbirth?… That’s nice”, a “he can stand already can he?”, and the occasional “what the fuck is a doula?”.
Often there’ll be an idiot there laughing and acting all alert; he’s one of those old-school dads who demands the missus sorts out any problems at any hour of the day, leaving him to get a good night’s sleep so he has the energy to get nine holes in after work each evening.
Then he’ll probably slide what he calls a “cheeky beer” out of an esky. What a bath plug.
One of these smug turds started detailing to me how easy it really is to rear children. No idea what all the complaining is about.
He called his kid Little Braedyn. (I don’t know how to spell this. From what I can gather, the life sentence that is being a Braedyn involves the letters B, R, D and N. The vowels are placed at your discretion.)
I didn’t ask for the dad’s name because social etiquette is to talk through children now. Maybe it was Big Braedyn, although the proliferation of ridiculous names doesn’t generally date back as far as the 1970s.
My kid can play dick guitar
Little Braedyn was very advanced for his age. He could do stuff that only kids twice his age do.
My little bloke can do heaps of stuff better than anyone else’s kids too, like playing dick guitar on a traffic island, and slam dancing during dinner, while still having the energy to stay up all night.
You don’t hear me banging on about his achievements because I have some dignity. I’ve always thought that being proud of your kids is a given. I don’t need to bleat on about it to strangers because I don’t care what they think. (Incidentally, my kids are superb).
Amazingly, this future sideline football expert thought I cared about percentiles. I don’t even know why that’s a word. I don’t care how tall or co-ordinated the little triple threat is. I don’t care what he can climb. I couldn’t give a shit if little Braedyn can go to the shops to buy his own milk. I’d prefer a nap to all of this.
We all make comparisons about stuff, especially children, but the more prudent of us keep our stupid mouth shut. Some dads don’t need to know how many wonderful hours in a row your kid sleeps. Just as IVF couples don’t appreciate “all WE needed was a six pack and a busted television”.
Playing the long game
What this bozo didn’t realise though is that life is long. Really long. Of course we want our children to live up to their potential. I’ve always thought the whole idea of continuing to breed is that your kids are eventually better than you. They don’t have to achieve that in their first few years on Earth though.
To live through a child’s achievements, and not concentrate on how they are as a whole little human is often the sign of an unfulfilled dad. I know a bloke who still talks almost exclusively of the exploits of his high school football team from a few decades ago.
His kids are heavily encouraged to be winners early on too. We can’t all be winners, despite what the participation ribbons now suggest to an average little champion. Either way, slow and steady wins the race.
A dad’s expectations can weigh heavily on a child. Peaking too early in life can definitely have its hazards. Ask any child entertainer who is still alive.
On a more suburban level, in my experience, the boy who started shaving at 12 ended up using the same razor to do a stick-up at the neighbourhood shop at 14.
“I couldn’t give a shit if little Braedyn can go to the shops to buy his own milk. I’d prefer a nap to all of this.”
I don’t remember being a toddler, nor being better than everyone else at anything, but I do remember being encouraged to go about my business, try hard, and not get cocky.
If you hear your dad crowing about how good you are, you’ll probably believe the press and expect that you’re the best at everything forever. You could be too, but you never know, so achieving quietly may be the best option until you’re 100 per cent sure you’re the greatest. That goes for dads too.
Early bloomers can have a bad time later on. Little Braedyn there might be turning off all the lights at night and putting himself to bed at the age of two, but who knows what he’ll be like in a few years? He could be yelling at his tennis coach and threatening teachers with a butterfly knife.
It’s not wise to compare your kids to other kids, especially vocally. You can come across as being a petty braggart.
Before I left the party, I considered asking Big Braedyn for his contact details, so in a dozen years when little Braedyn is a dad himself, or he’s being “charged as an adult”, I can send him some pictures of my kids doing their homework.
- Six parenting truth bombs for dads to keep in mind
- The 10 modern dad ‘subspecies’ to look out for now you’re one yourself
- 8 tips for weaponising your baby in social situations