The reason I have reflected on the facts about formal dinners, is that it was at one such event that I learned the most important thing about fatherhood. The speaker was addressing a room full of young (mostly well-to-do) men and their parents. He congratulated them on becoming such fine role models for the youth of today, made a few genuinely funny and original jokes (completely against the norm I hear you say) and then went on to talk about their future. He informed them that they will probably go on to do some rather significant things, that they will probably become the boss of somebody or numerous people. He reminded them to always be courteous and kind, but then he went on to say the most profound thing: “if you are lucky enough in life, you will become husbands and fathers. These are the most important jobs in the world”. We often snub at the they-grow-up-so-quickly clichés, but something I have learnt, is that time is one’s most precious commodity – we can retrieve stolen cars, burgled goods and even money, but time is something that we will never get back. A father once told me that his biggest regret in life was putting his career in front of his children. The thing was, he was dedicated to his career for the sake of his twin boys; they lived in an upmarket area of London, in a large house and attended one of the country’s finest academic institutions; yet that all came at a price – the time spent with his sons as they were growing up was minimal.
So if you think that as a father you are too small a figure in this world to make a difference or you don’t have much to offer, remember this – you are your children’s hero and if you doubt your ability to influence their lives, think of the mosquito that flies around in your room at night whilst you are desperately trying to get to sleep; he’s not too small to make a difference and neither are we!