Peace at Last
There are numerous behaviours one can ‘get away with’ by being a Dad.
No, I do not mean childbirth, nor do I mean parental alienation.
For example I love climbing trees, however it is not deemed socially acceptable for a grown man to walk over a forest alone and then proceed to climb trees, and hang upside in joyous celebration of such an achievement.
I have also never pretended to trip up ‘slap-stick’ style when only in my own company. Prior to being alienated from my three young children I would ‘trip up’ without fail every time I would serve them their evening meal at the dinner table. Each time would result in the same responses; my youngest child G, giggling loudly each time, appearing as if she would never tire of such tomfoolery. My eldest child B simply looking at me with dismay, refusing to show any acknowledgement that at his sisters age he had also found such idiotic behaviour funny. My middle child T rolling his eyes, while subtly grinning. “One of these days Daddy, you are going to fall over for real!” he would regularly exclaim. Not too long ago I attempted a ‘pretend trip’ while carrying someone, I nearly killed them! But that’s another story for another time.
It is also not socially acceptable for a grown man to read a children’s story out loud in character. This brings me onto the subject of bed-time story telling. Perhaps somewhat of a chore for some parents, particularly after a busy day. On reflection there may have been odd occasions, where my focus may have strayed. For example if there was perhaps a bottle of Merlot awaiting my attention downstairs. (Someone once told me, it doesn’t count as drinking alone if your kids are in the house). Anyway, I digress, I know of one crazy parent that reads their child four whole bed-time stories each night. Crazy fool!
One of my many favourite activities as a dad is the reading of bedtime stories. My absolute favourite children’s picture book is Peace at Last by Jill Murphy. This is the tale of a Bear family and Mr Bear who is having difficulties getting off to sleep one night. I would read this to my youngest child G very often, it was also her favourite bedtime story.
Mr Bear is unable to get off to sleep. At the turn of each page he is seen taking himself to different rooms and locations around the house in a futile attempt to get himself off to sleep. The kitchen is too loud with a dripping tap, the garden is too noisy with nocturnal animals scurrying around, you get the idea. In each location, upon the discovery of each annoyance that prevents him from going to sleep, Mr Bear exclaims “I cant stand THIS!”
I would employ my strongest cockney accent for Mr Bear (for any non-UK readers out there, I am referring to a proper East End London accent). I would get into character as much I could; accent, mannerisms and gestures. G absolutely loved this story being read to her by me, her loving Dad.
“Where may I ask did you draw the inspiration for such a challenging role as Mr Bear?”
As my mind wanders now, I imagine finding myself as a guest on Inside the Actors Studio. Being interviewed by none other than the show’s very own creator and host James Lipton, in front of a worshipful audience of students from the highly acclaimed Actors Studio Drama School. “So btgdad” James Lipton starts to inquire in his own inimitable style “where may I ask did you draw the inspiration for such a challenging role as Mr Bear?” I look upwards, slowly stroke my chin, in deep contemplation. “Well James, the attitude I wanted to present to the audience for Mr Bear I drew from the work of Ray Winstone. In terms of delivery of the tone and intonation I was inspired by Danny Dyer. And as for the gestures and mannerisms I was heavily influenced by the character of Del-Boy Trotter from Only Fools and Horses.”
Right that’s enough of me talking rubbish! The point is G and I absolutely loved the bedtime story routine. At the end of each story, G and I had somewhat of a ‘slap-stick’ routine to work our way through to bring the story telling shenanigans to a close.
“I love you too Daddy, goodnight.”
I would ask G to close the book, and at that point I would over emphasise an attempt to lean in and give her a goodnight kiss. She would then pretend to close the book and get my nose caught in the closing book. This would inevitably result in a bout of uncontrollable giggling from G. While rubbing my nose ‘better’ I would be leaning on the side of her bed. At this point G would then ‘push’ my arm off her bed resulting in me ‘falling’ onto the floor. Further uncontrollable giggling would ensue. We would have a few more minutes of loveable and joyous banter then I would say good night.
“I love you so much G, have lovely dreams, goodnight” I would tell her before giving her a proper kiss on the cheek and giving her a combination of a hug and a proper squeeze. “I love you too Daddy, goodnight.”