Fun fact: there are two versions of Three Time Daddy:
- Home Daddy
- Work Daddy
I try to keep the two daddies as far apart as possible so they maintain a nice balance and they don’t interfere with each other (after all, I don’t think the kids would like Work Daddy).
As you can probably imagine, I prefer being Home Daddy. However where Work Daddy has the edge is that he can drink hot tea whenever he likes and can eat biscuits openly without having to share. He also has regular performance appraisals. Yes, Work Daddy is told how well he is doing at his job in a reasonably constructive manner.
This is not something afforded to Home Daddy, apart from the occasional ‘You’re the worst Daddy ever!’ or ‘You’re the best Daddy ever!’ or even ‘Daddy, you’re so rubbish at Rocket League!’ How am I supposed to improve as a dad with this sort of feedback?
So, I decided to take matters into my own hands and discuss my dad performance via a 360-feedback session with NJ, my eldest son. Who is eight.
Home Daddy Annual Appraisal
Me: So, do you like me being your dad?
NJ: [nodding] Mmm, yes.
Me: If you gave me a score out of 10, with being a great dad scoring 10, what would I score?
Me: Eight? Wow. That’s pretty good.
Me: So, what would I need to do to score higher?
NJ: Mmm, stop shouting so much and buy me Fortnite.
Me: Oh, really?
NJ: [Laughs] Yes. You’ll get nine if you buy Fortnite and ten if you stop shouting.
Me: So that’s what makes a good dad? Someone who buys you what you want?
NJ: [Laughs] Yes.
Me: Even though we explained why you can’t have Fortnite?
NJ: Yeah, I know.
Me: And I don’t shout at you that much, do I?
NJ: Mmm, you could be kinder sometimes.
Me: I do try. Do you know why I shout?
NJ: [groans] Yes. Because I don’t listen.
Me: So if you listened more and I didn’t have to say the same thing twenty times would I have to shout?
NJ: I do listen. I just don’t listen when I’m on my Kindle or Xbox.
Me: Maybe try to listen when you’re on your Kindle or Xbox too?
NJ: I don’t always hear you.
Me: You know screens aren’t the most important thing in the world – it’s important to spend time with your friends and family too. And you get so used to being entertained by screens that you forget how to use your imagination and entertain yourself because… [sensing NJ wasn’t listening] Are there any other dads you think are good dads?
NJ: Mmm [mentions two family friends]. They’re nice.
Me: How about dads on TV or in books?
NJ: Mmm I can’t think of any. Definitely not Darth Vader that’s for sure.
Me: I think he was a little bit misunderstood.
NJ: He was still a bad dad. He needs to be kinder.
ME: I think we all could be a bit kinder sometimes. Well at least I’m better than Darth Vader, I guess. I’ll take that.
I thought I would quit while I was ahead: better than Darth Vader and I could score 10/10 if I succumb to pressure and buy Fortnite and ‘stop shouting’.
The latter tends to be proportionally linked to the amount of screen time NJ has and the constant battle to unplug his brain from electronic devices. And as for Fortnite? Well, despite the constant dancing and whine that ‘all the boys in my class have it’, which predictably isn’t true, I’m in no rush to give in to his demands. If it means never scoring full marks as a dad, it is something I am prepared to live with.
So, one child down, two to go in Home Daddy’s annual appraisal. Wish me luck.