No man is a hero to his wife (colleagues, domestic help, landlord, oh, go ahead, choose who you want, find the bloke you are definitively not a hero to), but he can be a hero to his small child.
It’s such a thrilling thing. We all need our self-esteem, don’t we?
Well, I can speak for myself at least. Here comes the high point of my week, an experience more pleasurable than — and this is saying a lot — watching India wallop England at the cricket; re-reading Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast; listening to the Kings of Leon; and watching again Francois Truffaut’s Jules et Jim.
Oishi, our seven-year-old daughter, was given a form at school for an interschool elocution championship. She was asked to, in preparation for the tournament, write a paragraph on — now get this — her favourite star. Presumably, she’d have to later mug up those lines and read them out.
Now I know how expensive newsprint is, and I know it will seem dangerously schmaltzy and downright idiotic to quote, unedited, from the writing of a seven-year-old but, well, this is that sort of column, you see. And if you’ve been following it, and if you enjoy it (your emails suggest that some of you do), you’ll know exactly why I am doing this.
So. This is what she wrote:
“My father works very hard. He writes books. He is an author. He is a journalist. He works the whole day and daily. He is tired when he comes back from office. Poor man. He tries hard for me. I love him.”
Now if your girl wrote that mini-biography of yours, especially when she’d been asked to write about her favourite star (sorry, I simply cannot get over that), what would you feel like?
See what I mean?
The chances are that something like this has already happened to you, or will at some point. Because when I went around the office, discreetly examining the soft boards of colleagues who are parents, I found that a lot of them had tacked up things their children had made for them or drawn for them or written for them (including assertions of love).
One of my colleagues had a large drawing, an elaborate birthday card, really, that called him the “greatest dad in the world”. I don’t know how many of his colleagues would be quite as generous (colleagues never are, are they?), but that is the point.
We become heroes to our small children for reasons we find hard to fathom ourselves, but are immensely flattered by. It could be because they need us more in those years when their worlds are still largely defined by us, and they don’t know too many truly heroic people.
It could be because they confuse the notion of someone who is a hero (a star) with that of someone they love — and know loves them.
Whatever it is, it won’t last long. So cherish it while it does. I know I do, and shall.