Monday, 17 June 2013
On Fathers' Day.
In the evening the sun came out, and my younger son, on the first of his Fathers' Days, was able to go for a walk with his wife, while his brother took photographs and his mother did the washing-up and baby-sitting duties.
Prior to that he had changed a couple of uncomfortably full nappies, spooned an assortment of foods into his small daughter and had a quick nap in the middle of the lawn, even though it was cool and starting to rain.
He had a bad night, a very early morning, and a number of joyful, laughter-filled hours in which small daughter trampled on him, played the keyboard with him, chewed whatever he was trying to read, patted his head, swung on his hands and broke into rapturous smiles whenever their eyes met.
A day pretty much like many others, in fact.
Fathers' Days are not that old.
I never experienced them in my own childhood, but a couple of decades back my sons spent a school afternoon producing heavily decorated cards, and were also persuaded to part with pocket-money on chocolate bars.
('Do you think he'll share it?'
'Oh, I'm sure he will.'
'Perhaps I'll put a note on it to remind him.')
This year my older son visited the place where his father's ashes are buried, and at dinner-time both of them fondly remembered their intense dislike of his morning cheerfulness, bursting into their bedrooms singing, 'Morning has Broken', but at the same time bringing them cups of tea.
I hadn't realised about the tea. In my own jaundiced early morning state I could not have trusted myself not to tip it into their tousled beds.
The early morning cheerfulness seemed like a trial for all of us.
I have tended to feel cynical about the commercialisation of these 'special' days, seeing them as opportunism yet again, but yesterday was special, with so many confused memories of my own father as well, and my feeling of regret that I knew so little of him as a person because his interests and enthusiasms were always elsewhere.
But the celebration of the day felt right. There were memories of old fatherhood, with all its good and bad and confused bits, and there is the real joy of seeing new fatherhood, growing and strengthening with every soggy nappy, early-morning wake-up call and radiant recognition by a happy little daughter.
And now the early-morning cheerfulness is back - fresh, irresistible and so very welcome!