Saturday, January 28

Whether they are handy or not, all dads could do with some support | parents and parenting


Yot’s customary to wish a happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there, but in truth I don’t know most of you and it would be presumptuous. You might be terrible dads, the type who tweet weird things at weather ladies, or attend topgear tapings. Maybe you’re merely a mediocre dad, the kind who makes his kids listen to Jethro Tull on vinyl, or calls it ‘babysitting’ when he looks after them by himself. Or, perhaps, you’re the kind of true, unrepentant monster who refuses to answer a toy phone when handed one by a toddler. I don’t know and I respect my readership – even the bad dads among you – too much to pretend otherwise.

But I will wish a happy Father’s Day to one extra dad this year. This is my third Father’s Day as a dad and I’ll be spending it with my own father in Derry, but I’m writing this before I see him, so I can’t give you any updates on his lovable antics, which has become the usual tradition for the past few years. Hopefully, he won’t mind if I don’t write exclusively about him this time, since I’ve even written a very cool and excellent book, which mainly comprises me saying how lovely and strange he is. Actually, he probably will mind, but he will have to forgive me because I’m worried he’s getting conceited from all the praise. A few weeks ago, the queen of Irish authors, Marian Keyes, tweeted she had a crush on him and we’re still struggling through the aftermath of that on his inflated ego.

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My father-in-law, on the other hand, deserves to mention this time, as he’s put up with me in his house for the past three weeks without showing too much direct animosity. He has, in fact, done this many, many times, and manfully tolerated my decidedly unmanly ways, without so much as a chapter in my book or a profession of love from the author of Rachel’s Holiday.

Like my own dad, Sean is a stoical sort, who’s handy around the house, devoted to his grandkids and keeps his phone in that leather-effect protective flap all dads were issued with by the Irish government in around 2006. Unlike my dad, he never graduated to a brief dalliance with a belt-holster, which gives him the lead on that one. As with my own dad, I’m impressed by all this because I am not a handy man. If handed a drill, I will use it to make stop-start robot noises while I move like a cartoon android. If you asked me to put up some shelves, I’d simply fake my own death and move to Panama.

Nevertheless, I’ve always felt welcome here, so it’s only right that we’ve returned the courtesy by welcoming Sean to our various flats in London, so he can attach shelves, showers, paintings and light fittings to walls there, too.

Father’s Day seems a good time to acknowledge his assistance, just as I’ve done for my own father so many times. If this column has taught me anything, well, it’s probably that more of you like the band My Chemical Romance than I ever expected. But if it’s taught me another thing, it’s that dads need all the help we can get.

Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? by Séamas O’Reilly is out now (Little, Brown, £16.99). Buy a copy from guardianbookshop at £14.78

Follow Séamas on Twitter @shockproofbeats




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