My year as the dad of two young girls

Clive Smith says he would not like to arm wrestle athlete Caster Semenya 		Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

CLIVE SMITH: English pigs? Don’t bite the hand that feeds you

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As you’ll know if you have young children, a lot can happen in the space of 12 months.

So let’s look back at the joys and stress that my daughters gave me in 2013.

The year started with my new mission to be more environmentally-friendly and also save money. Who needs to turn the heating on when extra layers will do?

Unfortunately at the time we were in the middle of winter with snow reaching Portsmouth and my mission failed almost instantly as trying to get a one-year-old to wear a woolly hat indoors was just too much to ask.

In February I had a light bulb moment when I realised that being a dad didn’t mean I had to be a round- the-clock entertainer.

When my daughters said those inevitable words ‘I’m bored’ I would usually try tofind a way to keep their young minds entertained.

But being bored is not such a bad thing. In fact I went on to realise that unstructured time gives them a chance to be creative and find a way themselves to bust their boredom.

They will always find something to do and sometimes pleasingly that includes tidying their bedroom.

In March I learned a very valuable lesson and if you have young children, I urge you to take note. Sometimes while watching TV, Alyssa likes to take a nap in my arms.

She did this one day while we were watching pre-school channel CBeebies. The remote control was on the other side of the room and I couldn’t move from my position in case I woke her up.

I now always keep the remote control at arm’s length so I’m not stuck watching Teletubbies and The Tweenies for two hours.

Spring arrived and Caitlin left me stumped when she asked ‘Daddy, why are clouds white?’ I of course gave her the answer, with a little help from my good friend Mr Google.

Then along came summer and I had to give my daughters a lesson in ice cream etiquette.

The most important bit is when you are holding an ice cream cone with 
a large dollop of chocolate ice cream. Don’t lean in to give your daddy a cuddle, as this will leave a large 
brown sticky mark on his nicely-ironed shirt.

Summer turned to autumn which brought a sad moment. Caitlin was presented with a balloon to take home from a restaurant.

Two weeks later the balloon was dead, shrivelled up on the floor in the corner of the room. I’m sad to say I had to put it out of its misery.

But it was a great excuse to visit the restaurant for another meal and another free balloon.

I look forward to seeing what 2014 will bring and I wish you a happy new year.