“But you get the commute to relax”.
So said my wife during one of the many arguments we’ve had about who has the hardest life. Now I don’t know about you, but, for me ‘commute’ and ‘relaxing’ aren’t exactly word fuckbuddies. Although, thinking about it now, she had a point. Standing with your face an inch away from someone’s armpit whilst simultaneously getting a tracheotomy from some tourist’s rucksack and a vasectomy from a midget’s elbow is comparable to looking after two feral under 5s for an hour. Also, she was reacting to: “Can’t I just sit down for a minute, I’ve had a hard day at work*?”. Fair cop, dear.
Parental point-scoring (slash The Pointless Argument) is one of the defining aspects of parenthood. What’s more important or more difficult – bread-winning or shit-scrubbing? Managing an office full of millennials or a house full of under 5s? Pitching to a cynical client or convincing a 3 year old that broccoli won’t kill him? Sadly, as for all these questions, there is no answer. And like (the impending) nuclear war (the Doomsday clock is TWO AND A HALF MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT, RUN FOR THE HILLS), there can be no winners. I did want to write this blog on how Dads can win the argument. But we can’t. So (in the spirit of this frankly terrifying PSA) here’s the next best thing: four tips on how to avoid Nuclear Family War:
- Do not, Under Any Circumstances, imply that your job has more value than looking after the kids or your partner’s job (or that ‘without MY job, we’d all be living in a fucking squat’) – if you do, find the nearest bunker and stay in it for the rest of the day (at least), the fallout will not be pleasant and isolating yourself is best for everyone’s safety (including your own);
- Be a Survivalist Dad – make sure you build up adequate supplies of Brownie Points so that, when (inevitably) you screw up somehow (you know, like dress them in the wrong coloured shorts or something), you have a safety blanket of Good Dad Deeds to keep you warm in the chilly Nuclear Winter;
- Avoid being a Kim Jong Un (baiting the opposition) wherever possible – firing a missile across enemy territory (after a single day’s leave alone with the kids: “this solo childcare lark’s a piece of piss love, don’t know what your problem is”) will likely lead to a call for (sexual) sanctions and general admonishment from the Mum Mafia, who will hear about it via WhatsApp the second it’s left your lips;
- Restrain your inner Trump (we all have one, don’t lie) – DO NOT over-react to reasonable requests (“I’m going out with the girls tonight, can you try and get home a bit earlier?”) with unreasonable responses (“I’ll ask my boss if it’s OK for me to leave earlier so you can get SHITFACED WITH YOUR MATES, will I?!”) because you will immediately regret the prick you’re being and want to rewrite history
Follow these simple tips and you may still have a relationship when the kids reach 6.
* I had of course forgotten that I’d met my wife at work and she knows that my job basically consists of fannying around on powerpoint most of the day, stroking my chin a lot and dusting off the jazz hands every so often for a meeting.