Do you remember your first word? Me neither. And It’s probably for the best, given the main form of vocabulary I use on a daily basis feature some very choice and colourful language.
Ok, how about this. Your child’s first word.
— This is article #78 in our series of #100Voices4Men and boys
My daughter’s first clear and distinctive word was one that would consume, cultivate and define everything about me from the very moment it left the mouth of this miniture, somewhat scary impersonation of myself.
Dad. She called me Dad.
In fact, to quote her – “Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad…” and so on, and so forth, until she burped in my face, then fell asleep.
But it was in this brief moment of pure joy, that I realised something. For the first time, I had made a distinct, lasting impression on a little, tiny human being. So much so, that in those few moments, I was everything to her. She called me Dad.
‘My fondest memory of that man was probably the times in his slumber’
But what does that term even mean?
Recently, I had some time to reflect upon my own feelings on that term “Dad”. I tried with vain, to imagine if there was ever a time that I felt the same way about my own father. I didn’t, but hey-ho, we all have our own demons!
I remember vividly, the times growing up in school. You remember, when your best friends, and your worst enemies, would regale and embellish on their own Dads. How awesome they were. The jobs they held. The times they would spend together, as a family. I had very little to offer:
“My Dad doesn’t work. He sits on his arse, asleep a lot. If he’s not on his arse, asleep, he’s lying on the floor, asleep.”
My fondest memory of that man was probably the times in his slumber, when he’d fart. At least he could make me laugh on occasion, even if it was unconscious.
Everyone enjoys the sonic vibrations of a good fart now and then. It wasn’t until I was much older, wiser, and able to blow my own trumpet to the point that it would sound, at times, like a full marching band was playing in my front room, that aside from the occasion to laugh at his flatulence, he had contributed so very little to my upbringing. And to my family as a whole.
It was those memories that shaped me to the man I am today. And to fight with every ounce, and to make a pledge to myself each morning, to never become the disappointment my father was. A decision made all too easy to uphold, by simply remembering back to that magical moment, when my own offspring called ME Dad.
She entrusted me with that role. She inspired me with that word. She made me laugh when she burped.
I wanted nothing more, in that moment, than to try harder. To make something of myself, for my family. I worked in a builder’s merchant. And had very little to my name. I was always low of energy, but always had time and energy for her.
And then my employment ended.
I had been built up, in my own mind, to be a pillar of support for my family. The strength, foundation. I was the main bread-winner then, and here I am now, with no bread.
That little voice of hope
My daughter’s first word was filled with so much strength, and built on so much foundation. It was the word that drove me forward each day. That gave me the want to come home, and hear that word spoken again and again from that little voice of hope in my life.
If I could use one word to describe the person to me, who should have earnt that word, it would be failure. I can’t imagine a time where my own sprogg would use that word to describe me. And yet, dear reader, here I sit. Hopelessly waiting for a reply, a confirmation, anything from the outside world, in a desperate bid to reassure myself that I am not a failure. An opportunity, to build up from the ground. To start again and never show weakness. To never give up, to become that pillar again.
Dad is a fighter. Dad is there for his family. Dad doesn’t give up. Dad perseveres.
Dad usually doesn’t get so deep. Dad usually finds humour, even in the face of adversity.
That’s what a Dad should be.
Dad just farted. Apologies.
When he’s not reflecting on the hardships of being a dad, Ant McEwan can be found writing adult-humour based satire on his blog “The Ant McEwan Report”. http://antmcewanreport.blogspot.co.uk/
You can find all of the #100Voices4Men articles that will be published in the run up to International Men’s Day 2014 by clicking on this link—#100Voices4Men—and follow the discussion on twitter by searching for #100Voices4Men.
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