It seems that as we get older, we become more interested in our past, or more specifically our origins. There are a huge number of people the world over who are interested in tracing their lineage. According to the emails I get from Nigeria, I have a large number of long lost relatives living there, many of whom are eager to share their wealth with me, so at some point I really ought to find out, when exactly the English Longdon exodus to Africa started. In the meantime I am a little reluctant to share my credit card details with them. After all, they may be from the side of the family we never talk about. In all seriousness, I do understand why people are interested in tracing their family tree, but at this stage in my life, it doesn’t really float my boat.
A couple of years ago I bought my Dad (who has just about everything else), a title for his birthday. A conservation group had bought a small peninsula in Scotland, and in order to preserve it, had divided it into small plots, each of which has its own title. From my point of view, the beauty of this scheme is that the title can be passed along, so in the future, I will be Laird (Scottish for Lord) Longdon, thank you very much!
At that point, I imagine that I will invest in a coat of arms. I would think that a caricature of me in full wrestling garb, defeating Hulk Hogan on a scarlet shield ought to do the trick. I’m sure that with an insignia like that I will be welcomed into the world of minor aristocracy with open arms; they certainly won’t confuse me with a lottery millionaire!
Possibly more important than the family crest, is the motto which runs underneath it. I haven’t worked out the final wording, but the emphasis will be on fun. I know that it sounds irresponsible, but that is one of the most important words that I have as a Dad. I realise that there are times to be serious, times to have important conversations, times to worry about the future (or the present), but so far these are not things which really need to concern my children.
As lovely an ideal as that is, it isn’t really terribly practical, and three problems immediately spring to mind, and I suspect that there are very many more.
My kids never seem to know when the joke is over. Fraboo particularly doesn’t understand when Daddy suddenly says” enough is enough”, as I have either run out of energy, or whatever game we are playing has become a little bit too dangerous. When Fraboo is getting a telling off, will often ask me “Are you joking Daddy?”. The problem is made worse by the fact that, like many Dads, I am the house disciplinarian.
The second problem is that it seems that I am known to be a “Fun Dad” and this allows other parents the opportunity to have a wee bit of time out while I entertain their kids. As a general rule I don’t mind, but it becomes increasingly tedious when every time I see a particular child, they immediately expect me to begin chasing them or play fighting with them. Now I’m the first to admit that in the mental maturity stakes, I am barely into my teens, but every once in a while, I’d really like to have a conversation with an adult, not wrestle with a five year old. Why can’t someone else’s Dad act as a punching bag for half an hour?
Finally, I find it very difficult to turn the “fun switch” to off and consequently don’t tend to take life terribly seriously. I can be quite impulsive (although less so these days) and certainly in years gone by would “do anything for a laugh”. My years seem to be catching up with me though, and I think it is extraordinarily unlikely that I will ever do a bungee , free fall parachute or base jump, and not only because Mrs L. won’t let me. They are also exceedingly expensive. And would require at least one, if not more, changes of underwear.
Here however, is an example of my idiocy. Recently, I flirted with the idea of buying a new skateboard (at the age of 37). I think that the last time I went skateboarding, almost 20 years ago, I ended up in an operating theatre having one of my arms pieced together. Fortunately, I realised that only misery lay down that road, and so I bought a much safer micro-scooter instead (but more about that another time). Many guys get a convertible red sports car when they reach middle age, but not me!
Despite all my bellyaching though, I have to say that I genuinely like the kids that I do engage with. Despite some of them having an apparent blood lust, they are nice kids. They are all without guile, and they don’t have an agenda. I’m sure that many if not all of the other parents look at me in despair and wonder what I’m playing at. What I am doing is, giving them a few minutes respite from their little ones, and I get to have more fun than them!