On Saturday I took a big step toward becoming the man I need to be.
When you become a father you are instantly tasked with an array of manly duties, the sort of complex tasks that previously you would rely on your own dad (or maybe father-in-law) to easily complete. This can range from bleeding radiators, to erecting complex flat pack furniture or even plumbing washing machines.
For so long I have been inept when it comes to engineering or DIY, but already I have mastered a number of those important dad duties. It was a steep learning curve, and there have been a number of slight mishaps and uttered profanities; but through a combination of sound advice and sheer determination I am yet to completely fail.
But on Saturday I was provided with my most challenging masculine task to date, as it concerned the most complex and difficult of essential life items…the family car.
We had just completed a comfortable two hour journey down the M4 to Wootton Bassett, just outside Swindon. I was driving my little boy to his first ever birthday party, organised by my wife’s cousin for her son. It promised to be quite an event, complete with ‘soft play’, fishfingers and pass the parcel. Unfortunately I was to miss it all…
On arrival the dashboard on my stylish new Ford S-Max started flashing and bleeping frantically – a bulb had blown in one of our headlamps. “Don’t worry darling, I shall fix this!” I announced…this was man’s work. I had noticed a petrol station a few miles back, and anticipated a simple purchase and even easier basic procedure. So I left them to enjoy the party and set off on my quest.
On purchasing the correct bulb, referenced from my owners manual, I returned to the pub car park and set to work. Surely I simply needed to remove the plastic headlamp cover and quickly exchange the bulb. As I just double checked the manual the first flake of snow landed on my windscreen – then the heavens opened.
And it got worse…page 65 made it clear that this was far from a simple procedure. I was going to have to disconnect and remove the entire front lighting unit, navigate a complex lamp system (full beam, dipped beam, fog lights etc.) and then change the correct bulb from the rear.
Four hours later, as the sun set, and the blizzard blanketed Wiltshire, this major feat of engineering was finally complete. It had taken another trip to the garage (the original bulb was wrong), a journey to my wife’s cousin’s house (to find the correct multi-head screwdriver), numerous cut hands and two more wannabe expert dads to complete this simple task. Finally the three of us stood and marvelled at our wondrous achievement – two working headlamps and plenty of light (for the three hour drive back through the heavy snow).
Just then my wife and son emerged from the warmth of the party. Apparently it was really good fun and they were now both ‘extremely tired’… the food was good too!
Despite having toiled all afteenoon in the arctic conditions, I was warmed by that true sense of achievement that only a real man can feel…I had mastered the car headlamp, and can now add this to my growing list of expertise. Who says fatherhood isn’t easy?