It was Fathers day on Sunday and my thoughts naturally turned to my own dad, who died 35 years ago aged just 58, when I was 28. My memories of him were of a quiet, kind and caring man, who adored my mother and loved us children and was so proud of us. He never made judgements, never had expectations, he just loved us unconditionally and worked very hard for his family who were the centre of his world.
I was staying with my son P for the weekend and as I observed my son as a father, I reflected on the differences in parenting beween P and his grandfather.
I read recently that the average time a UK father spend with hs children in the 1950’s was seven minutes a day as compared with 56 minutes a day now.
I am not sure about this, but certainly my son is a hands on dad, feeding, bathing and playing with his children.and spends much more than 56 minutes a day despite a demanding job which often takes him away from home.
My dad, was a woodworker and whenever I smell sawdust and sweat together, it always reminds me of him. He also travelled when he had a spate as a long distance lorry driver, and some of my nicest memories are of going with him in the school holidays, sleeping on the warm engine cover whilst he slept in the back of the cab. It was a great adventure that lasted for days and took me all over the country before motorways were thought of.
Dad would not bath or feed me. . The role of my dad was to earn the money and to maintain the house, (think “Mad men”) so I would spend hours, “helping” him with DIY jobs around the house. This made me a very practical person and my biggest disappointment was not being able to study woodwork at school because I was a girl. The first time I came up against sex discrimination that was prevalent in the 1950’s.
The biggest difference is that P is just so much more physically affectionate than his grandfather ever was. In the 1950’s I think it was not just the done thing.. I can never remember my dad saying “I love you” and unless I was ill there were not a lot of cuddles from him.
Ironically, my dad and P were inseparable when P was a toddler, always together, playing cars and drawing for hours. P chattering away in his incompressible toddler language that only my dad could understand. Dad was very cuddly with P and would tell him he loved him every time he said goodbye.
Sadly Dad died when P was two and a half, so P has no memory of his grandfather. I look at P and think that my dad would have been SO proud of his grandson in that quiet way he had and he would have adored his great grandsons….another opportunity to play cars!
I still miss you dad.
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