| Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Competitive dads

We speak to three Dubai dads obsessed with winning

My four-year-old son started Socatots at the weekend. We were all very excited. We’d counted sleeps, made sure he ate well in the morning so his energy levels were that of a footballer and admired his new kit. As he waved goodbye and drove away with daddy, his face was a picture of pride. On returning home I rushed to meet them, my son was smiling and flushed and I excitedly turned to his father and asked ‘how did it go?’ to which my husband replied: ‘Brilliant! I scored the winning goal against the dads!’

It was at this point I realised there are many levels to the competitive nature of a father and they differ greatly from a mum’s. Don’t get me wrong, I have it in me to be competitive too: I want my kids to do well at school, I need their costumes to be right on World Book Day, I make sure they’re always clean and well turned out and, of course, I shout loudly from the sidelines at the swimming gala. But my husband’s competition levels are out of the park. He will happily let both children go out without brushing their hair, allow mismatched clothes or on occasions – much to my horror – clothes that are too small or belong to each other (we have a boy and a girl.) But if there’s a sporting or competitive element, he’s there, dragging them over finishing lines, giving them pre-show pep talks and pouring expensive juice and sparkling water down the sink to build the ultimate turbo blaster from the containers.

But apparently, it’s not just him. My friend told me she literally holds her husband’s t-shirt so her four-year-old can occasionally win the ‘who can get up the stairs first’ contest, while another father-friend was clearly captured on video, punching the air and screaming ‘Waaaalkkooovverr!’ as his son – aged five – won the egg and spoon race. How very unsporting.

But competition doesn’t just mean wanting their child to win. It’s also about being ‘the best dad’ or basically, ‘the winner’. If there’s a dad’s race, they want to win it. If there’s a daddy line-up, check the swaggers and puffed out chests. And, in the case of my husband, if there’s a two-minute window where they’re allowed to play football at their son’s soccer class, then they simply must score the winning goal. It’s as crucial a part of parenting as matching pigtail hair bands is for mums. It’s a dad’s club and the mums just don’t get it. But the really funny thing is, the kids do. Want to see what we mean? We interview three Dubai dads about their slightly disturbing competitive natures…

Time Out Dubai,

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