Putting Back Your Clocks (or How to Spot a Dadlife Crisis)
The clocks go back on Sunday, confusing the hell out of parents everywhere (but what TIME do we need to put them to bed? Normal time? Earlier? Later? Let them run feral until 10pm?) and signaling a deterioration in kids’ sleeping patterns which will only be resolved in June when the bloody things go forward again.
I’ve spent the week cursing William Willet who’s not only the great, great grandfather of Chris Martin but also came up with the whole sorry concept in the first place as he was “incensed at the waste of useful daylight first thing in the morning, during summer when he wanted to go out riding”. The man had 8 children (yes EIGHT). It’s ironic isn’t it? The clock change that screws up parents’ sleep around the world was first proposed by a father who wanted to escape his children first thing in the morning (and whose great, great grandson wrote the world’s most sleep-inducing music, including the song Clocks). Ponder on that.
Actually, I’m lying. I didn’t spend the week thinking about that, I drifted into thinking about something that I’m sure most Dads/parents fantasise about on occasion – what if we could literally turn back the clock? Like, REALLY back? Back to when life was footloose & fancy-free. To a time when the crazy hairstyles were ours, not our kids. When we spent time playing the field, not at playing fields. When playdates were with playmates. When booze was recreational, not a parenting prescription. When sleep was for losers.
DON’T DO IT PEOPLE. That way madness lies. And I know this because I had a Wake-up Call. No. Not the one that comes attached to a toddler’s elbow and connects with your nuts at 5.12am. The one when you realise that you’re no longer the mosh god being crushed half to death at a Nirvana gig in ’92, the tequila-swigging Parisian ex-pat of the 90s or The Young Man in His Prime. The one that finally and irreversibly confirms to you that you’re a Dad.
Mine came 4 years ago (whilst swaggering round Camp Bestival with my mates), in the form of a teenage girl shouting: “There go the Dads HAHAHAHAHA!”.
In that moment, all my illusions came crashing down to reveal the balding, slightly podgy, quite wrinkled Simon Rimmer lookalike that everyone else sees. And I descended into full Dadlife Crisis – a vain attempt to turn back the clock in the face of the inevitable.
Because I’ve been through it (and because many of you may not have had your very own Wake-Up Call), here’s how to spot whether you’re a Dad in Crisis.
- Clothing. You have an irresistible urge to wear colourful or youthful (and Slim Fit) clothing. For me, this took the form of the dreaded red and unusual pink trouser but I have seen otherwise sane men take to black leather trousers and wear turn-ups with no socks. I’m not going to tell anyone what is and isn’t acceptable but I’d urge consultation with your partner or, failing that, a ‘laugh test’ in front of a group of teenagers before parting with your hard-earned cash for a look that screams Desperate Dad.
- Nightlife. Whilst most at home in the local ‘Dad Pub’, drowning your sorrows in youthfully-branded craft beer, you can also be spotted OUT out (with the Wolf Pack) at local ‘nite’ clubs, dancing like the original, jerky Thunderbirds, oblivious to the fact that you’re 20 years above the average age. On the rare occasions you land a full night away with your Dad mates, you will likely be either asleep in bed at 9pm (post Irish exit) or in a pub reminiscing / trying to relive the matchboxing, shot-drinking, glory years.
- Exercise. For you, exercise is 2 things: a) a feeble attempt to keep the belly at bay – where 2 or 3h weekly gym ‘work’ is meant to counter-balance the 20 pints you need to drink a week to cope with your kids (googling Dadbod gets 1.2m results in 0.5 seconds, feel the angst); and/or b) an Aggressive Assertion of Masculinity – where you spend £100 to risk hypothermia or worse as you put yourself through muddy obstacle courses & Ultra Marathons, all in the (vain and in vain) pursuit of your youth.
- Hair. You may feel the urge to do something dramatic with your hair with the excruciating and emasculating appearance of the Bald Spot. My response has been the extreme Complete and Utter Removal option but you need a Fat Head to pull this off (do this with a Thin Head and you risk looking like a shaved rat). The Hair Plug is an option but look what’s happened to Rooney since he had his done. And the Comb Over is a compromise which will ultimately destroy your credibility. Choose very carefully.
- Work.You will suddenly look around in a meeting at work and realise that, not only are you the oldest man in the room but also the most dad-like. This is disconcerting because you have always modeled your professional career on a hybrid of Gordon Gekko meets Bobby Axelrod meets Ari Gold. And yet here you are, dressed like your Dad, talking about your kids, turning into the professional equivalent of the Comb Over. Your only option is to shave radically or soldier on until you become a cardigan-wearing Dilbert.
So there you have it. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, I would strongly urge you to attempt to embrace your dadhood with dignity and refrain from putting back your clock. Although I say this as a man who has a couple of Slim Fit shirts gathering dust in the wardrobe (just in case), a Tough Mudder to complete in April and a New Job to get on with.