There are many things that are thrust upon an unsuspecting Dad over the years. Most of them revolve around the emptying your pockets of money at school events, or driving your children to their friend’s houses for sleepovers; only to return half an hour later with all the things they have forgotten to take.
The most embarrassing moments tend to be set in the noise filled environment of birthday parties. Gone are the days when Dads would escape to the pub during the festivities only to return when they had been sufficiently numbed against the smell of jelly and the sound of Agadoo; it seems that jam sponge is excellent at dealing with the hunger that develops after a few pints of best.
My personal low point was at the 9th birthday of daughter number three. My wife had spent a small fortune on face paints after seeing happy children walking around as butterflies and lions at a village fete. She ignored my pleading for helium filled balloons saying that party was for the children not for big kids; what is more fun than speaking in a high pitch voice and singing like Barry Gibb.
Most of the morning was filled with sandwich making knowing full well that they would be dumped in to a bin liner with the paper plates at the end of the evening. It never ceases to amaze me that we fill several large tables with party food and all kids want to eat is crispy snacks that seem to made out of polystyrene covered in unnatural colouring.
In order to ensure that we took revenge on the parents who had inflicted us with their children we prepared party bags full of noise making objects and hyperactivity inducing chocolate flavoured sweets. After all it would seem churlish to keep all the misery to ourselves.
After spending an eternity getting the three bulb disco lights to work in time with the music, my dear lady had convinced me that I was suitably creative enough to be in charge of all things face and paint related and, since it involved sitting down, I agreed to take part.
Daughter number two, who at the time was eleven, wanted to have Manchester United colours with the words ‘I love Hibby’ emblazoned on her face in tribute to an eleven year old boy called Matthew Hibbert; it seems he was worth the effort so I obliged but was determined to ask more questions about his character later on.
Some time after completing what seemed like several hundred faces I was talked into allowing daughter number three to reciprocate by colouring my, by now, tired face. Not being in the mood to be an animal I chose to have a single coloured background with the word FATHER on my forehead as an expression of my position in the family. What could go wrong?
My precious daughter did a good job and, resisting the encouragement of her elder sister to add an R, spelt the word correctly; although she ran out of paint half way through so that the word changed from green to red.