As a father one of my favourite things is bedtime stories with my daughters. Reading is not just something I love to do, but something I've done since I was very very little. Legend has it I was reading my first proper books at 5 and upon entering proper school at a little over 6 was bringing my own Famous Five and Secret Seven Books to the class library because "the ones already there were only for babies".
At least that's how I remember it. My mother may dispute this.
Normally at bedtime we have stories ranging from 10 Little Rubber Ducks by Eric Carle to Reading is Great to Miffy. Tonight at bedtime was more than subtly different. Ms4 asked me if I could read one of my books to her.
Now I've tried this before, The Hobbit has been produced and paragraph one of page one was attempted with indifference. Since we've had kids the opportunity to retake the steps of my boyhood hero has been one of the things I've looked forward to immensely. So imagine my horror some months back when it was rejected out of hand at the first attempt.
Since that failure I've sustained myself with an almost convincing argument; they were just too young.
My first reaction tonight was it was going to be the perfect opportunity to reacquaint my offspring with Hobbits & Dragons, Wizards & Dwarfs as described so vividly in the prose of the erstwhile Mr. Tolkien.
Imagine my surprise when the first book which came out of the shelf was The Perfect Gift for a Man. Unhesitatingly I joined it with a couple of other books (including the fantabulous Room on the Broom), grabbed a cup of Milk for Ms4 and sat down with her to read.
Cuddles ensued, accompanied by the prose of a certain Ms. Annik Skelton.
I'm pretty sure Ms4 had no idea about most of what I was reading, so the descriptions of Blood, Guts, sewing people on the kitchen floor, sexually transmitted diseases and certifying corpses with Daddy at 5 would hopefully have gone right over her head.
While The Perfect Gift for a Man was a Perfect Gift from Gavin Heaton to me, because I wrote a post for the Manweek initiative from ReachOut Australia. However I nervously chose not to submit for the book and hadn't read all of the stories in it previously. Telling Neekatron's story to my little girl while I read it for the first time seemed amazingly inspired to me.
Because if my girls ever feel they can hold me up as the standard for all men who ever enter their life, as Annik does with her dad, I'd be the proudest Dad alive.