According to a survey of 11,000 Circle of Moms members, 52% of babies spoke some variation of “Dad” as their first word. One reason offered for this is that babies find the “d” sound easier to make. It might also symbolise the often distant realtionship that children experience with their father particularly early on.
Mothers have traditionally been the primary care givers especially for infants and toddlers. Fathers have traditionally been the ones in the work place meaning that their contact hours are significantly less than those of the mother. Babies tend to cry for the things they want be it feeding, changing, or that intriguing object just out of reach that they want to knock or throw on the ground. Our fathers tend to be one of those things we want but is out of our reach between 9 to 5. One thing is for sure they influence our lives whether they are right there beside us or absent.
In my own experience, I don’t remember a time that my father was a permanent member of our family unit. He and my mother divorced while I was still around 4 months and my brother was a toddler which meant my mother had to go from primary care giver to the primary bread winner. As a result my first words were actually “mummummum” and supports my absence theory..
My father had to move away from our small town for work but he and my mother never let their personal issues with each other interfere with their relationships with us. They were very careful to shield us from any negativity and did their best to not stand in the way of my brother and I developing loving and positive relationships with the other.
Dad would always try and get back to see us for the special occasions, holidays or mum would take us up to the city to see him and other family as much as possible.
Mum copped a lot from us two boys because not only was she the primary care giver and bread winner but also the main disciplinarian. Dad in his brief visits was generally the parent who never seemed to get angry – apart from the occasional belt snap warning – and always came bearing gifts. Thanks to the efforts of both parents, the 100s of miles between us didn’t impair my dad always being a big part of our lives.
School holidays were the times we got to spend the most time together. Dad would take me and my brother on road trips all the time from local areas around South Australia and even interstate. Putting my brother and I in an enclosed space for extended lengths of time was utter madness but he developed a great way to keep our fighting contained. He used his underrated imagination to create stories for those times we had finished reading our Garfield and Peanuts comics.
He developed the Adventures of Super Adam & Super Sean. His character was named Rosco from Moscow and he acted much like Charlie from Charlie’s Angels, a handler for these two super kids. If Godzilla or King Kong struck Rosco from Moscow would send Super Adam & Super Sean to take care of it and save the world. Looking back now not only were they brilliant stories for us kids, they did plant the seed in our minds of team work between us two lunatic kids, although that concept did take awhile to grow.
In the stories he always relegated himself as a peripheral character, making my brother and I the stand out heroes. In truth, it was and always has been my father who is the true hero. The sacrifices he would make for our happiness, assuring that no matter what was going on in his life that my brother and I were taken care of, as well as some literally amazing things that made me believe he was a real life man of steel.
The distance mixed with his desire to see us was sometimes a dangerous combination. I recall one night waiting for dad to arrive after he promised to come down and see us but as the time ticked by we began to think he decided not to make the two and a half hour drive after work. Disappointed, we begrudgingly trotted off to bad under the orders of the Supreme Mum. It was not long after that we heard a knock at the door. Our father looking a little worse for wear had fallen asleep at the wheel and rolled his Ford ute off the road, fortunately escaping any serious injury. If only mobile phones were invented at the time we could’ve known that all – except for the ute – was well.
His job as an industrial painter – one he did for the money and not for the love – was a dangerous one. He’d have to paint the sides of silos, bridges, and was exposed to all sorts of chemicals that I’m sure have since been banned. One day my mum with a concerned look on her face told me that dad had fallen off a bridge. Fallen of a bridge!!!?? Immediately I assumed he must be dead, I mean, how couldn’t he be? Fortunately, apart from concussion his major injury was a broken shoulder. The accident occurred in the Riverland of South Australia so my mum took me and my brother up to see him in hospital. We were so mad at home but he being the typical old school bloke shrugged it off (figuratively, he couldn’t literally shrug at that point) as no big deal.
I was convinced he was the toughest bloke alive and would easily win any “My dad could beat up your dad” school yard arguments.
Fast forward many years to a moment that will stay with me forever, the first time ever I saw him cry. It was around four years ago when I had come back to Australia for a visit after a long absence. He had come to the airport to welcome me home and when he saw me he spontaneously burst into tears of, I assume, joy. I was really taken aback and of course moved by the most blatant display of emotion this tough old bugger had ever shown. It has just added to the respect and love I have for this man. My mother and father are not perfect people but I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. They are my heroes.
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY Rosco from Moscow!