I am of the generation of fathers that recognise that playing with their son is necessary to ensure positive bonding and healthy relationships. If I play with my child now, he’ll remember it in later years and opt not to turn into a serial killer when he turns twenty. Seems a good investment. I’m in.
My wife is a natural at child’s play and can sprawl on the floor for hours engaged in intensely dull and endlessly repetitive role-play. I am less comfortable with this however and after 15 minutes or so am leafing through adoption agency catalogues and muttering about the merits of boarding school. However I try because I don’t wish to be giving interviews to the tabloids in twenty or so years time under the headline.
‘Mass murderer’s dad said no to fun’.
I am much more suited to short bursts of play. In and out, quickly and efficiently, without the intensity of endless repetition. Minimum input for maximum outcome. If there can be an educational element too then I am much more likely to stick with it. I have needs too you know.
I am happy to say that me and him are getting much better at playing in a manner that keeps both parties entertained. We are becoming a play machine. What’s more, I am really enjoying the closeness that focussed play brings with my boy. I am teaching him stuff and he is proving to be pretty sharp. Pretty sharp indeed. This pleases me a lot.
Being a dad is hard. My dad found it hard. His dad harder still. I think it’s to do with men bringing up men? I don’t know. It is in my family anyhow. Maybe we are unique, although seeing all the men in the world strutting around, spewing testosterone and engaging in all the ridiculous things men do, I doubt it. The world could be such a different place if dads cuddled their sons just a little bit more. This is one of the reasons I try very hard to bond with my boy through play. It’s trial and error though. We are all learning. More so me, it often seems……
Recently during an episode of ‘Daddy and Son’ I learnt a valuable lesson and thought I would share it in a bid to educate others. So here is my E-lesson. You are welcome.
When your child is playing with a toy shark, just take a cute photograph and put on Facebook. Or maybe video it for posterity. Either way just let them get on with it. Just please don’t try and help….
For instance, if you notice that your child is not employing the correct shark swimming motion or using the obligatory Jaws theme tune, DO NOT intervene immediately to correct the situation. No matter how much you want to. And you will want to.
If you choose to helpfully intervene, the following will happen.
Your child will start getting irritated. As you try to calm them down by showing them how a shark actually moves (side-to-side from the torso like a fish and not up-and-down from the middle like a caterpillar) they will look at you with disdain.
Then, as you encourage them to make the dun, dun, dun, dun, dun, dun, dun, dun they will resist, insisting only on repeating ‘Daddy can I have my shark please?’. And even though you keep on answering them with dun, dun, dun, dun,dun, dun and a look of expectation on your face, they will not join in.
Finally after you have demonstrated side-to-side and dun, dun, dun, dun to it’s terrifying climax and you swim the shark into your child’s neck in a faux shark attack to make them laugh, they will fling themselves backwards from a kneeling position, whack their head on the floor and run to their Mummy screaming ‘Daddy hurt me, Daddy hurt me’.
Like I said, we are still learning how to play together my boy and me. So, even though we are heading in the right direction, I am still practising my innocent look and rehearsing my lines to ensure any future tabloid interviews go without a hitch.
‘He was such lovely boy, kept himself to himself. I was as shocked as everyone when I found that poor girl’s head in his rucksack’ .
I hope this has been a lesson to you. If you need an further advice and guidance, do not hesitate to contact me.
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