“You are soooo embarrassing…”

I’ve been a dad for more than seven years now.

Prior to that, I’ve a hazy recollection of having an assortment of things I now seem to have mislaid, chiefly: a social life, hair, lie-ins and patches of carpet in the house that didn’t have a discarded Hot Wheels vehicle ready to draw blood from my unsuspecting foot.

One of my biggest fears prior to son number one arriving was that the ‘Kevin The Teenager’ phase would come around in no time, with “I haaaaate you – you are soooo embarrassing” being routinely bellowed in my face.

What I didn’t realise was that, from birth to teenagedom, the tables were actually turned in that regard. That however horrific my dad dancing gets, or however cringeworthy it may be to be seen in my battered Ford Fiesta, nothing will ever top the humiliation that little ones are capable of heaping upon their beleaguered parents.

In the Mackintosh family, the embarrassment takes many forms, but if I had to pick a top three…

  • Out and about: it almost goes without saying that this is your biggest danger, with immense potential for public outbursts that will turn you a deep shade of crimson whilst trying in vain to convince bystanders that these aren’t really your kids. Top of the tree in our case was an incident at a family-friendly restaurant when, upon being told he had to leave the ball pool to come and eat, our then three-year-old went into a meltdown that culminated in a poor waitress drenched in Coke, me sporting a sizeable dollop of coleslaw in an unfortunate area and the family at the next table taking cover to avoid the threat of flying spiced chicken wings.
    Embarrassment rating: 10/10 (you will want to die right there, right then).
  • Swearing: I must stress that this isn’t done intentionally. I’ve not been putting my offspring through any kind of Gordon Ramsay etiquette school. No, it’s the perfectly innocent words that just don’t come out right and end up sounding like something else entirely. Pronunciation of “egg hunt” has been known to turn the Easter air blue, whilst “Daddy, look at that massive clock” once caused a town centre stir when the key word was slightly distorted. Embarrassment rating: 7/10 (swiftly move the conversation on and pray nobody heard).
  • Greeting house visitors: four-year-olds should not be the first point of contact for visitors to your household. Ever. Tesco drivers delivering the weekly big shop are known to have been hit with tirades ranging from “is this your real job? Putting food on people’s doorsteps?” to “you’ve forgotten the Kinder eggs – go back for the Kinder eggs”. Embarrassment rating: 5/10 (just close the door. Close it now).

On the plus side, of course, you’ll always look back and laugh, whilst remembering that being a dad is actually brilliant. Once you’ve done the dry-cleaning, apologised to strangers within earshot of profanities and switched supermarkets, that is…

“Was it not just an aeroplane?”

One of the beauties of Twitter is finding and connecting with people with whom you’re often in the same boat.

Slumped on the sofa at 5.30am of a Saturday, with all hope of a lie-in after a hard week’s graft cruelly dashed, it’s always comforting to scan through the 140-character missives of fellow bleary-eyed parents hooking themselves up to caffeine drips in readiness for the day ahead.

But as the kids have got older, I’ve noticed that they’re not merely content with masterminding severe sleep deprivation – they’re also now doing a nice line in unwitting self-esteem bashing and generally confusing the life out of me.

In fact, some of it has been so withering and baffling as to be worthy of trophies. So, from the past few months alone, here are my particular favourites from the Mackintosh household:

The ‘Werthers Original’ Award: “Daddy, did you have Christmas when you were little… in Victorian times?”

The ‘I Wish…’ Award: “Daddy, you know your office? Does it have a big curly slide and a ball pool?”

The ‘Erm, Ask Your Mother That One, Son’ Award: “Daddy, I know you’ve said I came from Mummy’s tummy… but how did I get there?”

The ‘Pass My Pipe and Slippers’ Award: “Daddy, you do know you’ll never, ever, ever be young again, don’t you?”

The ‘Done Up Like A Kipper’ Award: “Daddy, I’ve got a deal for you – if I do a really big wee, you can take me to the toy shop and buy me a fire engine… okay?”

The ‘Could Do With Wayne Rooney’s Money’ Award: “Daddy, where has your hair gone? Did you leave it at work?”

The ‘Don’t Bother With The X Factor’ Award: “Daddy, you are the worst singer in the world. Please stop, it’s hurting my head.”

The ‘Hive Of Industry’ Award: “Daddy, I’m going to move out and get a job… when I’m 34.”

The ‘Get Yourself Out Of This One, Dad’ Award: “Daddy, you know on Christmas Eve you said that red light in the sky was Santa coming and we had to get to bed? Was it not just an aeroplane?”

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Do not be fooled by their cuteness…