Six Dads, 12 young children and one weekend: our Dad columnist Olly Lemon will never take his wife for granted again
A couple of months ago my wife declared she was off on a weekend away. I’m sure it was phrased as a more open discussion, but the gist was clear. Within hours, the local Dad Whatsapp group chat starting pinging furiously and it was evident we were being collectively ambushed by a flawlessly executed plan. Before we could say “wait, where are the extra nappies?” our wives had scuttled off to a spa hotel in the countryside leaving six dads in charge of a dozen children, ranging from a few months to four years old.
If we lived in a truly equal world, then it would make no difference which half of the parenting duet took solo leadership of the family song for the weekend. However, when I look at the results of our little three day experiment, they suggest otherwise.
It started off so well. On the first night we all had the kids down on schedule, and smugly sent one another pictures of ourselves sitting on sofas watching the cricket on TV whilst we sipped cold beers. In fact, I managed to watch almost four hours of uninterrupted test match cricket; a feat I’ve not achieved since 2009 (which curiously was the year I got married).
But our success was short-lived and things started to go downhill rapidly. Maybe it was our over-confidence, or divine justice, or perhaps we were just lulled into a false sense of security by our wives seemingly effortless command of the younglings. Whatever the cause, the effects of our failings were spectacular. Here are some highlights:
- Dad 1 takes his 2 daughters swimming. Within minutes of parking, the car is towed. Dad watches car being towed but is unable to negotiate his way out. Dad 1 plus children get in a taxi and proceed to the car pound where he pays £350 for the pleasure of getting his car back.
- Dad 2 takes his children to the park. One develops a temperature. Unsure of how to handle the situation, he manages to recreate a scene from the film E.T. perfectly, wrapping his daughter up in a massive blanket and sticking her in the front bucket of a bike. Curiously, he then stays in the park for a pulled pork topped cheeseburger before going home.
- Dad 3 goes mad and decides to invite everyone over for baby tea time. 18 humans of various sizes huddle around a table. Dad 3 can only watch as total carnage descends on his previously beautiful apartment.
- Dads 1, 2, 4 and 5 elect to take eight children to the beach. Initial happiness crumbles when the younger siblings start eating fistfuls of sand, the elder ones fall over whilst paddling in the sea (in April) and a walk down the soft-sand beach with buggies and freezing children turns into some sort of sadistic assault course. Stress levels rise and emergency beer is ordered.
- Dad 1 (again) takes his daughters to supermarket. Elder daughter declares she needs a wee. Dad panics, and ends up opting for the pavement option outside the supermarket. Unfortunately, the daughter turns out to need more than a wee and Dad 1 finds himself in a very awkward situation.
- Dads 1 and 4 put their children in cars to try and get them to sleep. They don’t sleep. Dads give up and go home, just before tea time. As the cars are being parked, all 4 children fall asleep. Dads sit in cars and wonder just where the fuck the wives are.
- Dad 6 was annoyingly successful.
Lesson learnt: I promise never to take my amazing wife for granted again.