Daddy vs Chips I: Painting.
Nearly three weeks ago, I became a stay-at-home dad. At the start of the summer holidays, I was lucky enough to finish work two days earlier than my wife. Our wonderful nanny was waved goodbye to, a series of foolproof instructions were written and da-da-da took charge. The fact this has taken two months to write about should give you a clue as to how it went.
Surprisingly, the first day was uneventful. Wanting to get the nap times right and the tuna sandwiches eaten on time, we ventured no further than the garden until ma-ma arrived home. Secure in the company of another adult, we then ventured to town and bought some shoes. It was a great day. And so I became over-confident…
‘Outdoor painting’, I thought, ‘what a fun and intellectually stimulating way to spend our second day together’. So backing paper was laid out, paints squeezed onto plates doubling as pallets and babies dressed in body-bibs. Thinking ahead, I even strategically placed wipes nearby. Doesn’t it look great?
In teaching, we used to use the phrase ‘stage not age’; meaning a child should learn at the level of their ability and not their date of birth. This activity was neither age or stage appropriate. Before long shit got real and there was paint everywhere. Everywhere, that is, except the canvas I’d hope to proudly show my wife when she got home.
But fear not, for da-da-da had a backup plan. If the painting went wrong, we could play with water. Everyone knows water is a brilliant fall-back position which cleans children into the bargain.
How wrong I was.
To be fair, the twins did love the water. Unlike the painting, they clearly understood the goal of this activity: to splash. Splash they did. In fact they splashed so much that I soon realised water doesn’t so much clean children as wet them. And once they are wet, children can shuffle around on the patio, the grass and through the remaining paint, adding rust coloured bum stains to the devastation.
So what have I learned today?
- Know your audience. There is a reason James Corden is asked to officiate the Brit Awards but not state funerals.
- Plan activities effectively. This was a well thought-out as the Poll Tax.
- I can change a pair of soaking babies and wash their clothes surprisingly quickly. But don’t want to do it again any time soon.
And so to the result:
Chips win! Today da-da-da definitely failed to beat the chips. But at least he had the six week summer holiday to recover.