So I emerged from my obsessive Fall of the Murdoch Empire cocoon this week to wonder what else had been going on in the big, bad world? Apparently, the headline story was that a prominent man with an undefined job was near to death because he had to drop his kids off at school every morning.
When I first heard Ms. Gonzalez Durantez explain how her poor husband Nick Clegg was ‘killing himself’ trying to balance work and family, I felt a bit foolish and guilty. Unless I’m on an early train to London, I always get Boy Wonder out of bed, change his nappy and take him downstairs for his usual three-course breakfast. The Duchess, meanwhile, tends to Little Buddha and prepares for the day ahead.
Boy Wonder sometimes comes looking for me before 6am, defying the sunlight laws of his Gro-Clock Sleep Trainer, which is painful but means I’m up more than two hours before work. Yet most mornings I end up running late, forget something important and arrive at the office looking like a sad sack. Why? Because he’s not yet three years-old, so he spills things, refuses things, upsets things. Like his baby sister the moment she joins us downstairs.
Along the way, he wants me to break my fast with him at his little table, the demanding little beggar. And some days, I’m miraculously in a good mood and so challenge him to sword fights with socks or jive dancing competitions to the quirky delights of Shaun Keaveny’s 6music show. Other times, maybe if one of us is feeling a bit sad or vulnerable, we might have a long cuddle or a smooch to one of the slow tracks.
So time races by and then I’m running for the 8.20 to town, berating my time-keeping and then redirecting my anger on to the dynamics and habits of our now settled family life. ‘Some dads just get up and go to work, the uncomplicated breadwinners in their family’, I mutter as I wipe away the sweat and tuck my shirt in my trousers at the empty bus stop. ‘This Modern Dad lark is no picnic… damn it, I’ve forgotten my packed lunch’.
So, I felt guilty when I heard about the very modern deputy prime minister. There’s little old me moaning most days at having to strike some sort of work-life balance and the alleged second most powerful man in the country is racing back from national security meetings to get his three kids to school on time.
And then it struck me. He probably doesn’t catch a bus now he’s in Government, does he?In fact, his chauffeur-driven limo is probably flanked by serious-looking cop cars replete with sirens and red-light defying protocols. He probably gets a hot lunch served on demand and he’s unlikely to sit at his desk worrying about energy bills going up again.
So, sorry Ms. Gonzalez Durantez but I’m not buying it that your fella has it hard. Good on him for being a proper dad to your kids but lots of us do it actually. Being a good father and earning the pennies to keep a roof over your kids’ heads is definitely tiring but hardly the punishment you described this week.
Anyway, it’ll do him good. The school run is still a couple of years away for me but nowadays I imagine it’s the closest Clegg gets to the real world, a proper focus group. Besides, it’s probably only for a couple of more years, hey?