Good dad/bad dad?

With four sons – there are rites of passage in life. My boys becoming taller than their dad (two of them so far – two more to come, hopefully), stronger (one of them), faster (one of them), cleverer (three of them), more successful (one of them)…

And there are many others of course, including being able to smash their dad at table tennis (three of them).

Last night I beat my youngest at table tennis and he did not take it very well at all.

If I could articulate his body language it would be – “Dad, you’re a f****** wanker”

And his fury was compounded when I refused a rematch and explained that I am now the reigning champion. It was lucky that we were not playing cricket as the ball whizzed by my ear.

From here, things got even worse because I have always asserted that in table tennis I have a series of levels that I play to. Level 1 being my ‘easiest’ and proceeding upwards all the way to level 68 which is impossible for my opponent because the ball is a blur and sometimes, even melts.

Having these levels is a fool-proof way for me to explain away any of my unexpected and now frequent defeats.

And ahead of any game – I ask my opponent what level he wants?

Last night, Paddy asked for level 2 and the game began and ended at 21-13. I duly celebrated. First of all offering a consolation cuddle (always rejected) and then a few laps of the garden in footballesque celebration.

Over dinner, my vanquished son finally calmed down and seemed to forget his ignominious defeat – until I whispered in his ear that I had an admission to make.

‘Paddy, although you asked for level 2 – I actually only played to my level 1…’

He announced that he hated his dad and this delighted me even more than my victory.

Because this is how dads are supposed to behave. They are supposed to be a pain.

And of course – Paddy is on the cusp of beating me easily. By the end of June I’d say – or earlier if he keeps playing with his brothers.

And I’m looking forward to this defeat because I will always have my levels – and so I say bring it on…



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