It is Father’s day today, and I am going to be heading over to my parents’ house to visit the man himself, with my kids in tow. My dad made our childhood memorable by creating lots of activities and interest out of really simple things.
He may not consider himself so, but he is creative, being good at music, carpentry, DIY (no, genuinely, he isn’t one of those stereotypical disaster zones around the house!), art, science… basically all of the things that are brilliant when you have young children to entertain and inspire.
Now that I have two children, there are many things that I am looking forward to doing with my kids that dad used to do with us. I felt like taking a little trip down memory-lane, and thought I would share this trip with you by detailing of some of the memorable things that dad used to do with us.
Dad was in his 20s in the 70s and grew up listening to rock music from that era. He used to play guitar in a band, and since I can remember has always played guitar and sung to us. When we were children, he used to play and sing anything from nursery rhymes to popular music, and we used to be in our element singing along. Some of the most memorable songs he played were ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ and ‘The Hippopotamus Song’.
Later, dad took me to see my first rock concert back in 1995 at the old Wembley Stadium. Who did we see? Bon Jovi, and he got us there early enough for us to be able to run to the front of the stadium where we had the BEST view of Jon and Richie. It was AMAZING.
I since learnt how to play the guitar (although I am now hopelessly out of practice especially as dad ‘lent’ my guitar to one of his friends), and may well be able to teach the kids some chords if they’re interested. My eldest has already shown interest in music as he loves strumming my dad’s guitars as well as tinkering with the other musical instruments around my parents’ house. He is also a lovely little singer and surprisingly tuneful!
In the meantime, I may be able to persuade dad to do a rendition of one of the old favourites for the kids later today!
Dad was always a train geek, and I have inherited the train geek gene. He used to take us on train rides around London and steam train rides on the likes of the Bluebell Railway and the Watercress Line. He even used to purchase platform tickets so we could go and watch trains speed by from the station if we weren’t up to going on an actual journey somewhere.
I adore all things trains because of dad. He taught me how to navigate around London on public transport from a young age, and as a result I have never been intimidated by getting around on public transports systems.
I always talk to my kids about trains, and honestly cannot wait to take them on epic journeys around London and beyond. My eldest talks to me about electric and diesel trains and has already formed a love of Thomas and Friends (although I heavily limit screen time, as he is only two and a half!).
Although dad grew up in the outskirts of southeast London, he loves the countryside and heading out for a good ramble, complete with Ordnance Survey map. In my early-mid teens, dad and I used to go on regular rambles on the weekends. The countryside is inspirational and full of learning opportunities. Dad was always able to talk about the nature around us, the landscape and places of interest we were near.
As I just mentioned, he always had an OS map to hand, and being the geography geek that I am, I loved to learn how to use the OS maps too. I loved how they detailed the details of the land and to this day, I never use Satnav and always trust a good old-fashioned map.
My kids are too young to go for country rambles (my youngest can’t walk yet!), but we head out of London on a regular basis to the Surrey countryside to get some fresh air a taste of the rural England. It is so important for city kids to experience the life and culture of the countryside and nature as often as possible. They get a balanced view on what their country looks like and different ways of life.
Going for Drives
Sometimes when we were bored and nobody really wanted to do anything too strenuous, we would request to go out for a drive. (And sometimes, I think it was suggested by my parents so that dad could take us out somewhere with little effort on his part). Actually, most of the drives were just dad and I, as I don’t remember my brother attending very often.
Going out for a drive was quality time from my point of view because I got to chat with dad about all sorts of stuff, from problems to topical stuff to music – anything and everything. Being in the car with dad also taught me a lot about the rules of the road and driving. I always paid attention to what was going on on the road, and dad used to always explain what the road signs meant, how and when to overtake… you get the gist.
I think I have a natural aptitude for driving, but it also helped that I learnt a lot about the road as a kid being in the car with dad. Much like using public transport as kid gave me confidence as an adult, learning about the road as a kid made me a confident driver as an adult.
Other things that stick in my mind were smashing pebbles in the garden. Dad used to get an old sheet, place pebbles underneath and smash them open with a hammer. It was fascinating to see the different colours inside the stones compared to the external colours.
Every Christmas we received a jigsaw puzzle, and dad and I expend a lot of concentration on finishing those jigsaws. To this day, I love a jigsaw puzzle. I look forward to the day my eldest doesn’t lose concentration on small tasks and the day my youngest doesn’t eat jigsaw pieces.
Dad was great at making things. He made us a high chair, beautiful beds, a desk to name a few, as well as being a dab-hand at all things DIY. I think I’ve picked up a small selection of his skills along the way, but at the very least have the drive to have a go at creating things and learning how to do things myself.
If you didn’t know something, dad was always the man to ask. He is incredibly knowledgeable as he is so well-read. Dad usually knows the solution to a problem, and if he doesn’t, he usually knows where to find the answer.
In short, my dad contributed to a lovely childhood for us. He was always enthusiastic about doing stuff with us and still has that enthusiasm for life. I never remember him laying around in bed or being too tired or hungover to take us out and spend time with us. Where mum did an amazing job with the nurturing, nourishing, disciplining, caring and routining (I’ve just made that word up), dad complimented her parenting beautifully by providing interest, knowledge, entertainment, fun and activity.
So there you go, a very small snippet of some of the things that dad did that serves as an inspiration to my own parenting. Thanks for everything dad, and of course, happy Father’s Day x