Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Fatherhood

Yesterday one of the Dads on the school run stopped me when I was returning back to the cottage after egg delivering. I know him to wave to but I don't know his name. He told me that his son was unwell at home and could he bring him to the field to feed the birds for a bit of fresh air.
Of course I said that he could.
This morning I noticed the pair out on the field.They were feeding the sheep with cheap white bread and both were laughing as both ewes stamped the ground with their forefeet, impatient with the rate at which the slices were coming.

Suddenly I was transported back to a cold Sunday afternoon when I was around ten.
It was a bittersweet memory of sorts
It was the day my father, uncharacteristically asked me to go nature watching with him.
Now, my parents never ever really took us kids out at weekends, it wasn't on their radar to do such a thing, and so I was surprised, nervous and rather excited at the prospect.
Ten Year old boys adore any chance of poking around amid badger setts!

We drove out of town, to a large house set in its own land and small wood. I remember it was icy and there was a carpet of brown horse chestnut leaves on the ground.
We got out of the car and my father gestured towards the trees
" off you go.. I'll meet you later, I'm just going to see my friend"
I didn't realise that his friend owned the house.
The sadness and disappointment I felt on that Sunday afternoon remains with me to this day.
and I remembered it so well, when I watched father and son feeding the sheep
My father didn't mean to be in anyway cruel
He thought the offer of a nature walk, albeit one alone was appropriate.
He thought I would have great fun,
while he chatted to his mate over a small warming whiskey

79 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. It's the little moments like this that can shape our lives and without our parents ever realising it change our lives forever.

    An action or a throwaway comment that cuts to the quick and alters something forever, but as you say not necessarily meant in a bad way

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    1. I think we all wish we could think before we speak sometimes eh?

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  3. Hi John, Your story reminds me of when I once got lost on the mountain (large hill) near my grandparents farm here in Ireland. We were rounding up sheep and the older people ran off and left me behind. It was the first time I had known what it's like to be on your own in the middle of nowhere. I often think of that day - strange!

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    1. Strange how a memory lingers

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  4. no disrespect to your father because the world was a different place those days but thank heaven the world has changed!

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    1. Yes...... You are so right

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  5. it's amazing how these things stick with us.

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    1. Often till our dying day me thinks

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  6. Oh well, that solitary experience would have been completely different shared with your father. No need to feel disappointed, I think.

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    1. I did then.... Terribly
      But I guess it taught me a great deal

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  7. Parental roles have evolved, thank you for sharing how things have changed.

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  8. Funny to read this when I have just been writing about some childhood memories, of perhaps a salacious nature, to be published in a few days. At least your Dad wasn't having an affair, only a drink with a mate, but I can imagine your disappointment.

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  9. We often went on nature walks with dad but, his idea of nature walks was to use us as skivvies to carry the beanpoles gleaned from the woods, or collect twigs as pea sticks....I, being the shortest would be used as a measuring device for the height of the pea sticks! But, it wasn't all drudgery, he would teach us to blow through split reeds or broad grass blades to make a funny noise, show us how to suck nectar from clover flowers (tasted like honey), then, off to the pub by the canal, he indoors we outside with lemonade and a packet of crisps. Aaaah, those were the days!

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    1. A lovely memory to be sure...... I feel another blog entry coming on?

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  10. My father was much the same way John, he was not one for bonding moments at all. Thankfully contemporary fathers are becoming more involved in their children's lives.

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    1. He was very good in many other ways

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  11. I believe our Dads had the same DNA......he always seemed disgusted with us ...that is until he was old and he had mellowed and grew ill. He cried quite a bit. I think it was remorse for all the wasted time.

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    1. Thats so sad linda
      Sorry chuck x

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  12. How something like that stays with us forever...it's nice to think that little boy will forever have the memory of his father and feeding the sheep...

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    1. He did indeed look exceptionally happy

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  13. That is so different from the helicopter parents of today and equally as sad.

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    1. Is that the same a plate spinners?

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  14. my dad worked down the mines and took every chance he coud to drag us kids in every muddy field and sluggy brook he ccould find i did not relise what a modern man he was he would have 97 this year

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    1. Lovely memories.....you were so lucky

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  15. My Dad was the champion blueberry picker of northern Quebec. He would drag all the kids into the wild for marathon picking sessions while the mosquitoes drained us dry. Keep going, pick, pick, he would say. Dad was terrified of bears and snakes. One day, we were tired hot and wanted to go home, my brother looked at me grinned and yelled Bear Dad, there's a bear! Dad took off at a run, all we could hear was the saplings slapping his face as he sprinted to the car.

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    1. Another nice memory.. The sort children love to scream with laughter at

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  16. How could he possibly think you would have 'great fun' on your own, not to mention the safety implications of sending a ten-year-old off into the woods by himself? Sorry no sympathy here for selfish parents.

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    1. It was on.y a small wood!
      Anyhow I spent most of the time there sat in the car

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  17. We never get over being kids, do we?
    Jane x

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    1. Unfortunately not my friend

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  18. Fathers can sometimes say and do the most thoughtless things. My Dad was pretty much a wonderful father -- kind and sensitive -- but once when I was a young insecure teenager and we were talking about whether or not I was pretty -- this was at the dinner table (of course) and he told me I wasn't! Not in a nasty way, he was just being 'honest'! My mother was horrified! Now he didn't say I was 'ugly' but from that day to this that is what I feel I am. He did realize he'd been rather insensitive and always tried to reassure me that I was indeed 'pretty' -- but I always thought he was just saying that to make me feel better...

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    1. Your picture looks pretty! I'm sure you have it all wrong :)

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    2. My gran's favourite compliment was
      " you hair looks very nice ... From the back"

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  19. Such a sad and poignant story. I was the oldest of seven and had precious little time alone with my dad. An abiding memory is the feel of my small hand held in his large one.

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    1. Everything seemed big them did it not?

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  20. If parents could only be the shining examples we wished for - we remember only the very traumatic or exhilarating. Think it's selective memory on our part. I wonder where we would score to the children in our family in time? I do know that my daughter thinks I was the worst mother (even though she moved back in with me twice) and the boys think I did what I could. My own father had RA and I remember the few walks we went on with love, but I also remember how verbally abusive he was to my mother.
    Like I said... selective memory, there had to be better or worse times...

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  21. Dads are only human...usually how they raise you reflects how they were raised themselves. Mine was particularly tactless and I often had my little hurts. Still.....he had his good features and I try to focus on that. Nice that this particular father knew to stay with his son and share his time.

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    1. Another good point Delores x

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  22. My own father was of the 'old school' type. "Hello old chap" three times a year, and "Cheerio old chap" also three times a year. The beginnings and ends of school holidays were our only contact.

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    1. Cro... Are you older than you look?

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  23. Reminds me of that Harry Chapin song...Cat's in the Cradle. Sad song. I'm listening to it now.

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    1. Bloody hell, I have not heard this for years , just had to pop to YouTube for a reminiss

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  24. :o( Parents often don't realize how much their children crave just spending time with them. I say that as a parent who has missed the hints more times than I care to admit.

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    1. That's brave of you to share annette xx

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  25. Sounds like he was wrapping up his desire to visit this 'friend' with a (to him) 'good deed' to make himself feel better about it.

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  26. I am happy for the father and son who were feeding your critters and also creating a few good memories at the same time.
    With I am sure a couple of exceptions, fathers were different back when we were kids.....very detached from the upbringing process of children that was left pretty much to the mothers.

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    1. True jimbo
      It's only a few years ago though in the great scheme of things eh?

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  27. Very sad.
    He was probably treated in just the same way, if not worse, by his own father.
    Children were meant to be seen and not heard in those days. The idea of spending "quality time" with them hadn't yet been invented.

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  28. All things considered, post war parenting really was crap wasn't it? I'd quite like another stab at childhood, but with proper parents this time....

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    1. I was born seventeen years after the war Wanda!

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    2. Still subject to post war stiff upper lippery though. The baby boomers became the first touchy feely parents.

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  29. Sweet and sad story all around.
    I too remember little bits and pieces.

    cheers, parsnip

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  30. This hurts a little to read. I have to believe that parents do the best they can; I wonder if children make the best of what they have.

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    1. I agree with you Joanne
      I have no axe to grind with my father

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  31. I always marvel when I watch shows/movies that are depicting "the old days" and you never really see parents hug their kids and I always think, "How sad." But things were different then and it seems you have become someone with a huge heart and full of affection regardless.

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  32. Jesus john ....almost made me weep that .......go easy on the nostalgic dad stories please .....get back on track with the chickens and sheep stories .....chickens and sheep

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    1. Pull yourself together AD ( affable despot)

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  33. Ouch. Sad, and all too familiar.

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  34. Aww, not very thoughtful, I would have been hurt also.
    Thankfully I had a dad that was quick to do things with the kiddies, walking on stilts, riding the go-cart, or bicycle rides, lots of memories thank goodness, I think it was because he was raised as an only child, without a dad.
    You indeed have a huge heart, it's lovely.
    ~Jo

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    1. Like jimbo said...perhaps it's an age thing

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  35. How very sad John. I have nothing but happy memories of my father taking me searching for and cataloguing wild flowers and looking for birds nests. But I am sure your father didn't realise how sad you were.

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  36. That's a sad story and I think it is significant that you have remembered the incident when so many childhood events vanished from your memory long ago. It's symbolic.

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    1. Funny what you remember and why? Eh?

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  37. I was talking today with the guy I work for and saying how we (him and me) are lucky to have both been brought up so close to our fathers, even if it was working with them from a young age. My dad often moans about how he was always working when I was growing up, but I was always with him so it didn't matter!

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  38. Kev, I think I am two decades older than you... 20 years can mean so much eh

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  39. That father was inspired to bring his son to see the animals; hope the boy is getting better.
    I never saw my Dad on his own - just us ever again after my parents separated - very sad. I went to visit him & his partner in their alcoholic retirement & he arranged for me to go out for the day with a bloke whose wife had just left him... I was furious !!! I realise I acted like a brat but I was so disappointed. Obviously my dad couldn't take me out as he had his beer to brew & drink.
    I do remember getting up early & sharing a pot of tea with him before his partner surfaced which was nice.

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    1. The tea bit was sweet xxx

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  40. As a father to now fully grown children, this post give me pause to reflect upon how any seemingly innocuous actions on my part may have indeed been significant moments on the part of my children. Perhaps more communication is needed.

    Tell me, over the years that passed, did you ever find an opportunity to bring this up or discuss this little incident with your dad?

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    1. i didnt discuss this one important moment phil no, but i did lay quite a few ghosts to bed with him a few months before he died.
      I bought a house in sheffield and asked him to come over to complete a few small jobs after he retired.
      it gave us the opportunity to sink a few beers and chat....
      my father was a good man, a sentimental man...and a man who had never been taught y his own father how to be a father.
      he did the best he could with what he knew,,, and on his visit to me, i saw that.

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  41. How could he not have realised that you wanted his company rather than being left to yourself? And when he picked you up later, did he realise how disappointed you were?

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  42. No nick, I don't think he ever did

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