We all make mistakes as parents. I know I’ve made quite a few over the last four and a bit years since becoming a dad. However, I’ve also been involved in some ‘epic fails’ – a mistake of such huge proportions that it requires its own term to point out my unfathomable shortcomings. My most epic of parenting fails happened the other day and involved me, my daughter and the sea…we’ll get to that shortly.
Prior to this incident, I’d say my biggest epic fail happened when L was a baby. We’d been to our weekly Water Babies swimming class, then when getting her changed, I realised that I’d not packed any nappies. Panic ensued as I weighed up my limited options, whilst simultaneously cursing myself for making such a rookie mistake.
Despite this stupidity, this story actually ends well as it resulted in some of my most creative parenting thinking. I fashioned a makeshift nappy using loads of toilet roll stuffed down her trousers – with fingers crossed and good luck with green traffic lights, we got home without a pissy car seat. It’s funny how moments of crisis can bring out the best in us – get that embroidered on a cushion!
Actually, thinking about it a bit more, perhaps my most epic parenting fail was more recently and involved a date night with Ed Sheeran. My folks had come down to babysit so that the missus and I could go to a gig at Wembley. It wasn’t until we were just about to go through the turnstiles that the missus realised our tickets were for the Saturday, but I’d arranged everything for the Friday. We’d turned up 24 hours thanks to me.
Anyway, back to the other day and another contender to add to my epic parenting fails list. We’d been away for a couple of days in Hampshire as part of a hotel review. On our last day, we thought it’d be nice to end the trip with a quick visit to the beach as we don’t often get the chance to see the sea. We parked on a side road, then made the short walk across the main road onto the pebbled beach at Southsea.
Considering it was the end of October, we couldn’t believe our luck – there was a brisk wind, but the sun was shinning and the sky was a beautiful blue. A combination of ‘splashing around’, ‘peek-a-boo blue’ and ‘regal blue’ if I was forced to pick from the Crown Paints colour chart.
We didn’t plan to be there long, just enough time to throw a few stones into the sea and get a taste of alfresco dining by quickly devouring our Tesco Meal Deals. L ran straight over to the water and began to throw them into the sea – that’s the stones, not the Tesco Meal Deals.
At one particular point, the incoming tide nearly caught her out and she fled away with a shriek of excitement. This was my cue to get involved and ratchet the fun up a notch or two. I scooped her up in my arms and began to pretend throw her into the sea – “One…Two…Three…weeeeee”.
As someone who is often accused by friends of taking things a little bit too far and not really knowing where the line is, you’ll be pleased to hear that this was one of those occasions. To heighten the tension and thrill, I slowly started edging closer and closer to the incoming tide. The sand underneath my feet went from dry, to slightly damp, to wet.
Now, when the tide approached, not only did I pretend to throw my daughter into the sea, but I also had to scurry back to avoid getting soggy feet. This worked well the first few times – then it all went wrong. I’m not sure what happened, but fun soon descended into chaos.
Perhaps I’d gone in a little too far? Maybe I’d left my retreat too late? Or it could be that I could no longer support the weight of a 4.5 year old for a long period? Either way, as I turned to flee away from the incoming tide, my legs went from beneath me. With L still in my arms, we tumbled forwards. our limbs flailed in every direction in an attempt to regain balance and prevent the inevitable.
THUD. (Serious props to the missus for catching the exact moment).
We hit the floor. Or, more accurately, L hit the floor first and I landed on top of her. If the impact wasn’t enough of a shock, less than a second later the tide had caught up with us and we were engulfed by the cold, frothy waves. It was a cruel double whammy – particularly for L who was laying face first in the sand when the sea got her.
We quickly managed to get up and retreat so I could survey the damage. There was no blood which was a positive, but my arm and shoulder hurt and L was clenching her hand into a fist and crying – I assumed she’d hurt it, but she might have been preparing to punch me.
We were also soaked. Our coats had kept our upper halves reasonably dry, but our shoes and trousers were so wet that they’d changed colour. With L (understandably) sniffling and sobbing, we ditched the plan of lunch on the beach and rapidly headed back to the car. I’m not afraid to admit that I used L as a bit of a shield so that people didn’t think I’d pissed myself.
Luckily, as we’d been on holiday, we had spare clothes in the suitcases in the boot. After an impromptu strip and redress at the side of the road and a prolonged period of heating blasted out in the car, we were as good as new. At least we were physically, I’m not sure what emotional trauma I’ve caused for L after basically throwing her into the sea! Time will tell.
So that was my most epic parenting fail to date. What stories do you have to make me feel better for my inadequate dad skills? Let me know below.