RICHARD ORD: Rebel without a Corsa

editorial image

A man in a suit sweeping up dried couscous from the front room floor may not strike you as a potent symbol of rebellion, but bear with me.

There are many roles a father must take on to ensure his children are given the best start in life.

When they’re babies, you’re the mother’s glorified messenger. The main duty of a dad is to fetch stuff. Any stuff. Just fetch it, NOW!

Nappies, shopping, bottles, wet wipes, cups of tea (for the mother). These orders are issued by the mum when breastfeeding. No sooner has the baby latched onto the mother than the “bellowing orders” part of her brain is engaged. Stop me if I’m being too technical here.

It’s amazing how much needs to be done, and done immediately, when a baby latches onto a mother’s breast.

As the children reach the toddler age you become a role model. Well, a bit more than that. You become Superman. There’s nothing dad can’t do.

Broken toys are mended, wounds healed, homework completed, questions answered, you name it, dad can do it. The scales start to fall from their eyes by the time they reach 10.

Superman doesn’t know all the answers, he can’t fix everything and, actually, isn’t this Superman just a bloke wearing his underpants on the outside? And their Y-fronts. The colour? Hearing aid brown with yellow piping, since you ask.

I’m now entering the third stage of fatherhood. The ‘catalyst for rebellion’ stage.

It’s vital, as the child enters his teenage years, that he has something to rebel against.

All your good points instantly become your bad points.

I can remember when my dad sold his souped-up Ford Capri. It was red and white with the reg plate OPT 9M (optimum, geddit?) and as a kid I loved seeing the car roar round the corner as he came to pick me and my mates up.

Unfortunately, he traded it in for a Hillman Imp.

He ditched the petrol-guzzling mean machine for an economical family runaround. He did it to save money, but I was devastated.

I vowed that I’d never be so weak. I was going to be a cool parent with a souped-up car that was the envy of the street.

Today I drive a Corsa, but that’s beside the point. You need a moment when you look at your parents and think, I’m not going to end up like them, I’m going to be different. I believe I may provided that moment this week.

The hottest day of the year and there’s me, in my office uniform of black suit, white shirt and blue tie, heading off to work. Ridiculous enough, but then my wife shouts at me: “There’s some dried couscous been spilled on the front room floor. Can you sweep it up?”

Our eldest son Bradley, aged 14, watching his perspiring dad in an uncomfortable suit sweeping up dried couscous was, I imagine, experiencing his very own Ford Capri moment. I hope so. It’s part of my job.

When Marlon Brando, as teen bike gang leader Johnny Strabler in the movie The Wild One, is asked “Hey, Johnny, what are you rebelling against?”

He famously responds: “Whadda you got?”

In our house, the response to that would be “well, we’ve got your dad in his suit sweeping up dried couscous.”

Yep, that’ll do.