On being a Dad

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By Craig Nudelman

We see quizzes of all sorts on Facebook, asking what character we are from which show or book or movie: for example, “Which character from Harry Potter are you?”.

Now, everyone wants to be from Gryffindor house from J.K. Rowling’s Hogwarts. That’s because it’s associated with courage and bravery. And you certainly don’t want to be placed in Slytherin, since its association with evil and the Dark Arts is not particularly popular. These quizzes are often one dimensional and don’t really accommodate to our whole selves. We have lots of different characters inside ourselves. Being just before Father’s Day, ads keep popping up online bandying about the qualities of being ‘the perfect dad’. This has got me wondering what paternal characteristics I have, and also which ones I want to imbue.

I’ve been a father for two and a half years, and it’s been an amazing journey so far. I went to kiddies’ class ‘Top Tots’ the other day with Jessie, and it was such fun! At the end, as it was the last session of the term, Jessie was given all of her artwork that she had done for the past few months. I was told not to page through them, but I figured out that one of them was Jessie wishing me a happy Father’s Day (I’m not just a pretty face, you know). I’ll admit to having been quite happy. It’s not every day that being a father is celebrated, and I realise that for most of my life I hadn’t really appreciated the magnitude of the role (so thanks, Dad). But what kind of dad do I want to be? For inspiration, I turn to the dads that have played a central part of my family’s life for the last few years – those that appear in Jessie’s favourite entertainment.

The ones I’ll be speaking about are complex, and they really make an impact and can give you insight into parenting. So, here are my thought about being a dad from the father figures of children’s fiction.
First up, Daddy Pig, from Peppa Pig. Daddy Pig is a very complex… pig. He sees himself as a typical Alpha male, strong, knowledgeable and able to do almost everything. From hanging up a picture to reading a map, he believes he is the most capable of people. However, we find that in reality, he is not. He can’t read a map, breaks the wall when he tries to hammer in the nail for the painting, and is constantly making a fool out of himself; he is quite an inept individual. However, he can always laugh at himself. He is an excellent father, his deep resonant voice assuring Peppa and George that they are the most important things in his life.

I want to move on to the King of Arandelle from Frozen. Now, when his daughter with special powers (Elsa) accidentally injures her sister (Anna), he panics. Rushing both girls to the Realm of the Trolls, the Troll King warns that Elsa’s powers will only grow stronger, and if she doesn’t learn to control them, she may cause great harm. Instead of saying that he’ll happily accept that she has powers and ensure she controls them with love and affection, he locks her away in her room, all alone. With the motto, “conceal it, don’t feel it,” making her a nervous wreck, she eventually breaks free and “lets it go”, becoming a rather dangerous menace to society (just what the Troll King warned she would become). From this, we can see that even though he loved his daughter and wanted to protect her, he just didn’t know how to harness her special gifts. Maybe that’s something we can all learn: harness our children’s individual talents and guide them with openness and love. That way your child won’t create an eternal winter, wherever you live.

The next father figure who is central to Jessie’s life is Maurice, Belle’s father from Beauty and the Beast. He is quite an eccentric man, an inventor, who seems to enjoy seclusion, owning a plot of land outside the town. Being a single parent, he has showered all his love and attention to his special, beautiful daughter. He has given her a love of books and learning, and ensured that she is interested and interesting. Being a quirky inventor is just the thing that has made him so accessible as a father figure — he plays around with his imagination, and perhaps we too can play around with our children and their imaginative world.

Finally there is Mr. Brown, Paddington Bear’s foster father. A bit of a neb, he is described as “a hapless but well-meaning City of London Risk Analyst.” He is serious and pragmatic, and seems to be a bit of a kill-joy (based on my seeing the films, which are excellent!). But we all do need to be slightly serious. There are those times when we can’t give all the fun our children want. Sometimes we have to set boundaries and ensure that laughing doesn’t lead to crying. In those times, being stern is best — even if it means I don’t get a hug at the end of the day…
So, what kind of dad am I? I hope to be the best I can. There are days when I don’t feel like being an adult, when I want to go to a movie or to a show and not have to worry about a baby-sitter.

But the joy that I have when I see Jessie laugh or be a bit of a clown is incomparable to any other feeling. I am truly #blessed to have her in my life and to be her ‘Daddy’.

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