Before I go any further I’ve been told I have to apologise.
It has been more than a year since I was last asked to write for this magazine and, it is fair to say, I failed to cover myself in glory that time.
In fact I said I wanted to smash Barney the Dinosaur in the face with a cricket bat.
Not my finest moment as a father, but by no means the worst. Seriously, it wouldn’t even make the top 100.
Nevertheless I am sorry. It was not an appropriate suggestion and this time I’ll be on my best behaviour.
The problem is that Time Out Kids is usually written by mothers. Calm, tolerant, patient, caring, creative and saintly creatures with sensible views on education, healthcare, discipline and all round character development of future leaders.
Hence whenever I come lurching along with my half-baked theories and unhelpful suggestions I’m either sent away with a warm glass of milk or placed on the naughty step. It is as a reaction I’ve become used to as a parent.
But there is one time a year when my expertise is called upon and I’m asked to share some of my wisdom.
Father’s Day is an annual celebration that doesn’t get the holiday status it deserves. In the grand scheme of things I’d place it above Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Day and just behind Cup Final Day in order of importance.
This will only be my fourth Father’s Day on the receiving end of the relationship and I can’t help but think my own dad has worked the system a little better than I have so far.
My dear old daddy has had a steady flow of monogrammed handkerchiefs, golf balls, CDs, books and aftershaves hand-delivered to him on the third Sunday in June for more than 30 years.
So far my tally stands at a painting and some sloppy scrambled eggs in bed. I don’t want to come across as shallow or unappreciative, but on the painting I had green hair, three fingers and a seagull on my head.
It was rubbish.
To all the mums out there reading this and wondering if they should help out with gift-buying the answer is ‘yes’. I can’t speak for all fathers but I will generalise and say what we really want this year is something big and expensive. A hefty wristwatch is a good place to start.
My wife had a similar vision for Mother’s Day but, as much as I would have liked to agree with her, our two-year-old had a different idea. Mother’s Day is more of a spiritual occasion and should be observed with a gesture, a hug or maybe an honest discussion about modern family values. At least that is what I took his gurgle to mean when I was changing his nappy.
What we’re starting to learn in our house is that Mum and Dad command much better bargaining power if they join forces. With a concerted effort and severe emotional blackmail us parents can control the gift market. Or, at the very least, form some sort of standardised celebration contract. This template can be transferred to any anniversary or holiday of your choosing but should include written allocation for a lie-in, exemption from the more distasteful chores and control of the TV remote control for the day.
Not sure if the kids will go for it or not. But if they come charging into my bedroom at half past six armed with teddies, DVDs and breakfast bowls, it will be time to take serious action. It is Father’s Day after all....