Learner Dad: The highlight was when my daughter roared, ‘this is just like being on holidays’

Bless me readers, I have sinned. This week, we had more than a few visitors around, some water was wasted in the back garden and I was judgmental about my friends’ parenting style.
Learner Dad: The highlight was when my daughter roared, ‘this is just like being on holidays’
Kinsale harbour, Co Cork.
Kinsale harbour, Co Cork.

Bless me readers, I have sinned. This week, we had more than a few visitors around, some water was wasted in the back garden and I was judgmental about my friends’ parenting style. (I didn’t have that old confession classic, a fight with my brother, but that’s only because I don’t have a brother.)

Out the back: It’s a given that all of Ireland’s problems would be solved if we lived in apartments instead of houses. And then a global pandemic comes along.

The back garden (for those of us lucky enough to have one) has gone from a place you store punctured old footballs to the most important space in the world. We had grandparents, friends and nieces in ours at various times during the week.

It was like a mini-carnival out the back in our socially-distanced safe space, eating pizza and swapping lockdown war stories. Our kids would have been lost without our little grassy ‘out the back’ over the past, what is it now, 13 years? (It can feel that way.)

My guess is we won’t be moving into apartments any time soon.

Seaside: I miss the seaside. (I grew up in Kinsale, I get a bit crotchety if I don’t smell the sea every couple of weeks.) There is no sound of the waves to be had within 5km of Cork city.

A friend of mine said they headed down around Jacob’s Island in the sunshine and it was jointed with people trying to get a hit of the sea. I’m not that desperate.

I’ll wait for the 20km rule to come in on June 8, which will just about get us to Kinsale, along with 100,000 other people from Cork city.

Slip and slide: How do you mean you don’t have one?

My brother-in-law arrived yesterday with some kind of plastic water slide gizmo he bought for the kids. I secretly cursed him because I have a problem with clutter and we already have four or five half-punctured paddling pools. But this is a gamechanger.

The generic term is a slip and slide, you roll it out on your lawn, connect the hose to one end which creates a gentle fountain of water, the kids run down it and then slide along on their knees.

I couldn’t see the attraction, which shows yet again that I know nothing about kids. My two spent hours on it yesterday in the sun – the highlight was when my daughter reached the end of her first slide down the thing and roared, ‘This is just like being on holidays’.

That’s the last time we’ll spend a couple of grand bringing them to a campsite in France. All hail the €12 slip and slide.

Parent judging: Have you seen that new show on Channel 4, Britain’s Best Parent?

It's about three sets of parents who swap their kids with each other and then get bitchy about parenting styles.

Obviously I’d never judge other people for their parenting styles and obviously that’s a lie because what’s the point in having kids if you can’t judge other parents?

It’s not all judging though – I’m always trying to find out if a friend has ‘relaxed’ a lockdown rule, so we can follow suit with the ‘everyone is doing it’ defence.

If that doesn’t work on a garda at a checkpoint, I can always say I’m following ophthalmology best practise and driving to Kinsale to check my eyesight.

Dad chefs: I’ve been asked by the Irish Examiner to write an article for Father’s Day, so I rang around a few dads I know to get their take on lockdown.

Here’s one of the things I learned – most dads rate themselves as chefs these days. I’m not sure if it’s as a result of lockdown, but men are cooking a lot more of the family meals.

It will be interesting to see the impact of this on the national diet. Here’s my prediction – get used to having a barbecue on a wet Wednesday evening in November.

Daddy likes to barbecue, particularly if he doesn’t have to do the wash-up afterwards.

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