Dad's World - Irish Examiner


Jonathan deBurca Butler

That well-known pillar of international media, The North Devon Journal, has just published results of a very interesting survey. According to the findings fathers of children between the ages of two and sixteen pick up on average twenty-two injuries per year due to their children.

The research was carried out by OnePoll who surveyed two thousand fathers online in October 2014. Initially, when I saw the headline figure I scoffed. “Soft Englishmen,” I thought to myself, “always giving out.” But as I read on I began to feel some sympathy for my brethren across the sea; mainly because in the last few years I have felt their pain.

For instance, a third of those surveyed said that walking across a toy-covered floor was the most dangerous aspect of being a parent. Now it might sound ridiculous at first but think about it. How many times have you been happily dumbdy-dumbing your way across the sitting-room when next thing an uneven and sometimes jagged piece of something gouges itself into the sole of your foot? Lego is particular offender and part of me suspects that all children’s toys with faces wear smiles because they’re grinning at you with a permanent look of vengeance.

“You think you can just let your kid try to flush me down the toilet?” they say when you pick them out of your foot. “How d’ya like them apples?”

Yes, according to the survey fathers either step on or trip over toys at least eight times a year and we hurt our shins and elbows on average three times a year.

Of course, high on the list of concerns is the injury that every man fears. A kick, punch or football to the liathroidi might have everyone else in stitches but more often than not leaves its victim doubled with pain. On average it happens twice a year according to the…ehm…poll.

Just the other day I came home from a frightfully cold walk home to be greeted by a hug from Fionn. As is his wont, he disappeared for a few seconds and came back with something he just had to show me. At that stage I had started up a conversation with Jisu, our au pair, and when I asked Fionn to just hang on a second I got my reply – a swift punch in the proverbials. Poor Jisu didn’t know what to do or where to look and there was a moment of silence before Fionn was grabbed without as much as a whisper, brought upstairs and put straight to bed. If I was to be struck dumb with shock, he was too. And if the truth be told he had it coming, he’s been going through a bit of a hitting phase lately. Just as a by the way, it seems to have worked. The hitting seems to have stopped. Anyway, to return to the survey, it says that the testicles are unintentionally jingle jangled from their peaceful dangle twice a year….so I’m due another.

Now that I think about it, poor Fionn has left a few little scratches on his daddy. There was the time he whacked me full force in the teeth with horsey – very sore – and on another occasion he actually managed to ram his finger up my nostril as if bursting a balloon. That actually drew blood and he was more upset by it than me God Love him. On both occasions he apologised and I know he really meant it…the apology that is.


Of course it would be unfair to blame just Fionn for all my injuries. Luke has also used his daddy as a punch bag on more than one occasion. Pulling at and attempting to eat hair is a favourite past-time of his and something we actually have to warn people about. Recently he’s taken to slapping, me in particular, in the face which he finds hilariously funny. According to the survey, hits to the face happen on average three times a year. In our house with Luke it’s probably three times a day.


But of all the injuries featured in the survey the most sinister is without doubt back pain (I’m going to include shoulder, neck, arm and legs in there too if you don’t mind). That’s the one that has the potential to cause real problems, even when you’ve stopped picking them up. Still, this morning when Fionn woke up I picked him up and carried him down the stairs. He can walk it no bother but I wanted to carry him. It would seem there is a cure for most injuries and ailments – a nice long hug.




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