Roisin Ingle on ... the best daddy in the whole wide world
Dear Dad (Of Our Children)
I could have got them to write you a letter but I know which way that would have gone. I’d have said “write your father a letter” but all they’d have heard was “draw your father a picture”. So the letter would have just been a drawing of a house with severe subsidence and six wonky, worryingly small windows and a wild patch of grass either side of the roof where the sky should be. We have crayon drawings of houses hanging all over this mobile home. Most of them are embellished with your handiwork. A castellated roof here, a juggling king there. My parenting approach is more “draw your own beanbag-chucking monarch, it will be good for your development”. You? Well, you always go that extra mile.
So I’m writing this letter instead of them. To say thank you for the last four years. I don’t always feel like saying thank you. When you lost one of them on this holiday for example it’s fair to say I was not impressed. It was bad enough when you lost the same one in a Dublin park a couple of weeks ago. At least there wasn’t a lake there. To lose one child may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose her again looks . . . well, you know how it looks.
I was minding my own business reading a book under le dull and cloudy French sky, ignoring texts from “friends” about how Dublin had turned into the Caribbean when you appeared clutching one of them under your arm. “Where’s the other one?” I said in a calm voice, as though you’d gone to the Intermarché and forgotten the milk instead of having returned from a walk with only half of our children. When you said “is she not here?” I felt like throwing the book at your big scared-looking head. But I didn’t because I was trying to keep calm in front of the one who wasn’t lost. You ran back down the hill like a demented person and I didn’t know what to do.
Of course I found her around the corner outside somebody else’s mobile home, happy as Larry. When you eventually appeared you were soaked through having jumped in the lake in case she’d wandered in there. I had no sympathy for you but they had. “Poor Daddy, he went for a swim with his clothes on,” said the one we keep losing. (We have it under control, honest, social services.)
They always fight your corner and I love how much they love you. If I’m narky with you, which happens very occasionally, and by very occasionally you know what I actually mean, they tell me to “stop fighting with Daddy”. You have more patience with the repetitive nature of parenting than anybody I know. If I have to play “let’s go shopping” one more time I’ll have to be carted off in the trolley. Every time you set out the vegetables and cereal boxes it’s like the very first time.
You were the main reason I wanted to at least try to have children. You meet some people and you know there’s a father or mother in them just dying to get out. You just have a sense that it will be their finest hour. I honestly felt my inner-mother could have stayed inside trying to learn how to craft soft toys for eternity quite happily. But I couldn’t bear the thought of you not being a Daddy. I wanted to let the father in you out.
Once, when I didn’t know you that long, I walked into your house and saw your father launching into an Everest of ironing. When he packed up the board he took the Hoover out from under the stairs. I knew from that moment on, presuming at least some of that domestic acumen had been passed on to you, that you were were excellent potential life partner and co-parenting material. (Thanks Granda John).
Having said that, I’m outing you now as someone who irons the vests of their four-year-old daughters. Think of it as an intervention. I’m hoping that the public exposure of this ridiculous behaviour will make you see sense. But despite being outed, you’ll probably keep doing it. You weirdo.
I’m not calling you the perfect father but I do believe that you will never do anything quite as well as you do this job. (Okay. Snooker. You might be better at snooker than parenting, but that’s it). Apart from the vest-ironing madness and the nearly losing half of them on a regular basis business, it brings out the best in you. I know you sometimes worry whether you’re doing it right but you shouldn’t. We’re so lucky to have you.
Happy Father’s Weekend.
Love your grateful co-parent x