Surviving Autumn (or Health & Safety Gone Dad).
Autumn (or Fall if you’re one of our literal – so literal – American cousins). ‘Tis the Season to be Miserable. Not only does it remind you that you have holes in your shoes, it can’t make its mind up about the weather, it fucks about with the clocks, messes up the children’s sleeping patterns, turning you into this.
There are some who say it’s a colourful, leaf-frolicking, pumpkin-flavoured season to savour. To them I say: brown is not colourful, leaves are just dog turd tarpaulin and pumpkin has no taste. Whatsoever. In more ways than one, Autumn’s symbolic vegetable is the Donald Trump of the vegetable patch.
Autumn is also nature’s serial killer – it kills leaves and then destroys commuters’ lives by stopping trains with them; it kills the light from the day; it kills joy with the endless cycle of snot that is the Family Cold (see below) and its ‘first frost’ kills everything that’s left and then bursts your pipes. It is a callous, murderous bastard.
Beyond this, there are some specific pitfalls for Dads. Here are 4 of them and how to come through unscathed.
- The Vicious Viral Vortex. At some point in the coming days you will hear or have a cough. This cough will not be any old cough. It will be the Cough that Signals a Month of Misery as you all catch a cold that does more rounds than Postman Pat on speed (and, like Jason from Halloween, refuses to die). Your life will become a mucus-filled Groundhog Day. Your house will, like a teenage boy’s bedroom, become a shrine to Kleenex. And you will be accused of having Manflu*.
WHAT TO DO: a cold is inevitable – even when dressed as your partner decrees (like an inuit), the little shits will seek it out – all you can do is place boxes of tissues everywhere, weather the snotstorm and swallow accusations of manflu with dignity & poise.
- Fireworks in the garden. Once you get past the frisson of excitement that is you connecting with your inner caveman slash arsonist and harnessing the power of flame under the awestruck gaze of your adoring children, you will notice the terrified face of your wife looking on as someone who can’t even be trusted to aim their penis at the toilet puts a 2 megaton rocket in an empty Tonic bottle just 2m in front of the kids’ unprotected eyes.
WHAT TO DO: nod knowingly at your other half and extend the exclusion zone to 5m – it won’t make much difference (the rocket will take just 0.00005s to travel the extra distance) but it will show that you are Taking your Responsibilities Seriously.
- Soft Play (aka Soft Plague). There are few things more miserable in life than driving through the rain to take your child to a ball pool filled with other children’s saliva and faeces. Soft Play is the Deatheater of childcare, sucking all joy and colour from an already grey day. You will spend your time either trying to stop your feral kids (who’ve been inside for 3 days) causing a scene OR wishing death on other people and their feral kids.
WHAT TO DO: just don’t do it – Anthrax is preferable to 2 hours’ Soft Play but if you can’t catch that, stand in the rain for 2 hours having a football repeatedly kicked at your nuts or shut the kids in the living room and hope for something better than Lord of the Flies.
- Finally, at some point, you will have a conversation that goes something like this:
Mum – “He’ll need another layer, put his hoodie on. And his helmet.”
Dad – “It’s not the fucking Antarctic, I’m sweating in a t-shirt.”
Mum – “Well that’s because I put the heating on and it’s 25 degrees in the shade.”
Dad – “[QUIETLY] forfucksake. And why does he need a helmet and NFL-grade padding?”
Mum – “He’s started playing conkers at school. And the leaves are really slippery.”
Child 1 – “I don’t want to put a hoodie on, I like being cold. What’s fuffucksy, Daddy?”
Mum – “Put it on or you’ll have no treats/iPad/TV/bedtime story.”
Child 1 – [puts on hoodie and helmet] “Fuffucksydaddy-fuffucksydaddy-FUFFUCKSYDADDY” [all the way down the street]
WHAT TO DO: there is little you can do beyond rebelling and choosing to go out in a t-shirt and shorts (and no helmet) yourself but be aware that this might lead to you being Patient Zero (cf. 1 above) or death by conker.
Autumn, don’t you just love it?
* An invention of the Matriarchy (aka Mum Mafia) designed to rob us of our masculinity