I’m calling it Father’s Day – with the apostrophe before the ‘s’. I’m sure that there are lots of Fathers out there but my wee girl is only concerned with one – little old me. Though not so little these days.
I’m apparently smelly with a fat belly. And I’m the only Dad around here with no hair. Except on my feet and in my ears. Oh yes, my daughter takes a lot of interest in my appearance and general well being. It’s in her interest that I am in peak condition to be able to take her swimming, to gymnastics and do a lot of general ferrying about. And she wants me to be able to catch her when she is tossed in the air.
Yesterday we were at a garden centre and I ended up purchasing a see-saw. Isla and her two friends had been grumpy because there were not enough outdoor toys to play with in our garden. My desire to get three girls picking daisies or gardening met with frowns and silence. Sometimes Isla is all for exploring Nature in the raw – she recently stroked a toad that I’d found in a pile of bark, and laughed uproariously when it pooed on my shirt! Whining girls don’t usually win but I thought maybe a see-saw would be a good match for the swing.
As I paid for the see-saw, the young assistant spotted Isla sucking her thumb. We had a chat and she explained that she had been required to wear a brace for two years and now wore one each night. This would be necessary for another 5 years! Isla took note and agreed with a suggestion that if she stopped sucking a thumb in the day she could get a lolly at the weekend.
By the time we arrived at the car Isla was backtracking (and sucking her thumb) like mad.
‘I can’t get to sleep without sucking my thumb,’ she said sadly. ‘I’ll never get to sleep again.’
More discussion followed and we agreed that she could suck her thumb until seven o’clock at night.
‘So can suck my thumb when I am lying down?’
‘Yes,’ I say.
‘When I am lying down on the sofa watching television?’
‘No. You have to be lying in your bed after seven o’clock.’
‘That’s a rubbish plan,’ says Isla, sucking soulfully while twiddling her hair. ‘I can’t twiddle my hair without sucking my thumb.’
‘You’ll get a lolly at the weekend.’
She eyes me despondently.
‘Two lollies,’ I add, a hint of desperation in my voice.
We journeyed along in silence until Isla asked, ‘Why is it called a see-saw?’
Good question. I mumbled something about being able to see something when you are up high and when you can’t see it down low – you just have to remember you saw it. She seemed satisfied with that.
Well, that was yesterday. Today my daughter hasn’t sucked her thumb. Yet. I am still in her good books and she talks animatedly about a secret surprise on Father’s Day. Isla is not the best at keeping secrets. When her Mum was about to open her main 40th birthday present Isla piped up, ‘It’s a watch.’ I reckon I am on track for some aftershave or a pair of Homer Simpson socks. Or a mug saying ‘World’s Grumpiest Bald Dad’.
It is a day of mixed emotions for me. My birth certificate has a blank space where my father’s name should be. Rumour has it that he was about to get married, and I was then conceived during a drunken party last minute fling. My middle name is apparently his too. So thanks to my irresponsible birth-mother’s actions I haven’t a clue who he is. Maybe he knows about me and gets a twinge of regret each year. I doubt it. He’s probably busy with his own kids.
The Child Support Agency wasn’t about in the 1960s. Too late, I suppose, to ask him for a few quid. Would be nice to be able to buy my wee one a slide too. But – in truth – I’d rather fork out the money from my own pocket. Life without a biological mum and dad alongside does have its positives. I know how to graft, to love deeply and to give freely. Once I trust someone. Life in Care and Foster homes can lead to insecurity. It’s what comes from some adults not taking their responsibilities seriously.
That said, I’m damned if I’m going to roll over and let things get to me.
Life, like a see-saw, has its ups and downs. Just remember to hold on and keep rocking.
You can quote me on that.
I know I am lucky. Lucky to be married to a great person and to have a fab wee girl. Our dog’s not too bad either. And many people have stepped in to help me on the way. People who did not have to look after, nurture and guide me as I grew up. I won’t name names but they know what they did and who they are.
So Father’s Day is special. It’s a day where my daughter shows she loves me, and I show her I truly, madly, deeply love her back.
Just like any other day of the year really.