What I want for Father’s Day

I love Father’s Day. I never quite lost the excitement of getting presents and luckily I have been blessed with a wife who ensures I always get really good ones (so if it’s going to be socks, they’re socks I can train in, for example).

When the good folks at The Baba Blog asked me what I wanted for Fathers’ Day however, it really made me think. If I could have anything from my troopers what would it be?

I surprised myself with my answer.

I’d ask for more time. Not to have more time in the day, because I would just fill the extra time with activity in the same way I do now. I mean extra days. Not just the ‘good’ days either, because the funny thing I’ve noticed is the things that, at the time, things that seem like huge dramas (Samuel taking a pen, and for the first and only time, drawing a line all the way down the wall his granddad had just wallpapered; Jude making me see stars when he managed to reach a CD case while I was changing him and employing a Herculean effort, implanting it in my forehead; Liberty locking me and my son in the conservatory and me having to ring for back up) are the things that really – really – make you laugh in hindsight.

My son Sam is now 11 and I really feel how he is changing from the little boy that I assumed he always would be. Whereas once upon a time, I’d be greeted by “Dad-dad-dad-dad-dad-dad!” if he found something he thought was really cool, now he wants to tell his friends first. Once he was my shadow but now he prefers his own company a lot more. I’m not sorry about this – it is the natural order of things and I am proud that I have raised a little boy with his own thoughts and opinions. But what I wouldn’t give for a single day with him again when me and his mum were his whole world.

I even know where I’d take him – to the park near the Imperial War Museum were we used to take him after the One O’Clock Club. These were the days before the force of nature that is Liberty was born, but Jude would be there. We’d have them both on the swings.

At 10, Jude is also a growing boy, but he has one foot on both camps. He still wants cuddles outside bedtime, to rush home to tell us the news from school, to tell us jokes to make us laugh (and when he does make us laugh, repeating the joke again and again and again because our laughter still makes him feel so good). But he is also becoming more independent. He is always surrounded by a group of friends – especially girls –  and increasingly he wants to spend more time with them. He is not too sure about public displays of affection anymore. Last week he went to his first rehearsal for ‘A Midsummer Nights’ Dream’ – (he is playing Bottom which I think tells you more about his mischievous personality than I ever could) – and drama is something that more nor his mum ever did. This is something Jude is doing for himself.

I am lucky – and I know it – to have Liberty who at just six is still happy to have her parents play a big part in her life. She has stopped asking me if she can marry me when she grows up, but I still think she wants me at the service. She still calls me out in the garden to inspect a hole she’s dug, comes and gets in bed with us every morning when she wakes up, is a forgiving audience for my terrible jokes and songs and at least once a week asks if she can sleep in tiny bed (when we have guests we put them in Libby’s room and make her a camp bed – tiny bed – on the floor of our room). I am making the most of these times.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not living an Enid Blyton book – there are times when my kids drive me to distraction. While I have been writing this Liberty came in and asked me to cut a grapefruit in half. I asked her to wait for 2 minutes while I finished writing this. She counted to two. So then we had a conversation about the difference between seconds and minutes. Off she went (crawling on all fours for some reason) and two minutes later the kitchen timer went off and she came upstairs to tell me two minutes had passed but I hadn’t finished (note to self: the kids now have the capacity to work out how long two minutes actually is). Off she went. Then she came back in and said Pussycat (her favourite fluffy toy) really, really, really wants grapefruit and miaowed the word grapefruit. Three times. Then she spelt grapefruit (or ‘grapfruit’). The she spelt it while clapping out every letter. So now I have to go, because if I don’t get this little girl her grapefruit soon, we might end up having one of those moments that only really, really make you laugh in hindsight.

Happy Father’s Day Dads. Enjoy.

 If you’ve got any other tips, please share them with me – and other dads – on the Commando Dad forums: http://www.commandodad.com/forum/