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Fatherhood worry

Daddy Issues

“Am I turning my child into a Freudian time-bomb?”

Fatherhood

Author David Whitehouse's LOL and COL (cry out loud) column, 'Daddy Issues', this week has as its fatherhood worry, the one about whether you're scarring your children for life with occasionally desperate acts of problem solving.

My infant son has a turbulent relationship with scissors. On the one hand he seems to like them. Just a couple of months ago I caught him holding a pair he’d removed from an open kitchen drawer directly over his heart. If he’d tripped and impaled himself, I’d be in prison now, reluctantly fellating convicted gang members to guarantee my personal safety. Bless him.

But on the other hand he seems to hate scissors. If you go anywhere near him holding scissors he starts to vibrate and cry and scream until he pukes. This is why, for the past eighteen months, any attempt to cut his hair – be it amateur or professional – has been abandoned for his own personal safety. And it is why his hair grew so long he could barely see past it, while at the back it was matted and clumpy, like the wool around the arsehole of a sheep, or Boris Johnson.

Well not anymore, because this week I pinned him to the ground and shaved his head in what I only realised afterwards was actually a violent physical assault. In fact, if I was a cop, and he was an arrestee, and the whole episode had been surreptitiously filmed by a passer-by then put on YouTube, then I’d be going to prison all over again… but as an ex-cop, for whom no amount of cellblock oral can guarantee personal safety. If that video went public, the only way I’d stay out of prison is if we were in America and he was black.

It was as I sat astride him like a bronco cowboy at a deranged pig rodeo, shearing his hair off completely against his will, his face covered in a glossy sheen of hot tears and thick snot, that I began to wonder if this would be the traumatic childhood experience that one day turns him into a crazed deviant. Perhaps this necessary but awful five-minute act will live in his subconscious, mutating there until he’s 36-years-old and no longer unable to resist an innate burning desire to lean across the Morrison’s salad bar, snip off the cashier’s fringe, put the hairs in a baguette and fucking eat it?

What if something I do in good faith quietly but irreparably damages my son’s psyche, turns him into a Freudian time bomb? No parents mean to traumatise their children, but history shows us that it happens, with sometimes horrific, unpredictable results.

Dennis Nilsen wasn’t born a psychopath. Something nightmarish happened in Jeffrey Dahmer’s youth that made him the monster he became. Did an eight-year-old Katie Hopkins ever recover from getting her head stuck for seventeen hours in the anus of a horse? Looking at the evidence, you’d have to conclude no.

When you have kids you’re too busy keeping them fed or washing shit from their bodies to spend much time considering how their mind is little but a wet, unshaped ball of clay now yours to form. I suppose the trick to successful parenting is to leave your fingerprints on the surface without stabbing your thumb right through. But then, if we’re essentially good, well-meaning but sometimes over-tired or guilty simply of inexperience, how are we to know which of our small actions are in fact the flap of a butterfly’s wings that causes the hurricane, somewhere down the line?

So desperate am I for an answer to this question that I even tried to force one from my son, but if anything holding him inches from the snarling jaws of a Doberman only made him clam up.

Fatherhood worry

Things I Now Own: Calpol

It soothes him. Eases his pain. Helps him to sleep. And yet he doesn’t pay for it, I do. I worry that Calpol isn’t preparing my child for the harsh fiscal realities of recreational drug use.

Read more of David Whitehouse’s Daddy Issues column on kids and the spectre of death.

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