Why I launched a parenting panel show for dads | #parenting

It is a good study in how men communicate: three jokes and an earnest comment, then quickly onto a joke again. But the themes, which touch on everything from anxiety about being an older father to the tricky balance between being a ‘fun dad’ and a disciplinarian, are serious.

Both were among Vincent’s worries: whether he’ll be there for landmarks like meeting his grandchildren, whether he’ll be fit enough to run around the park, or whether it might be an issue with boys that he’s not really into football.

“I thought there would be at least a chance I’d get a little girl, then I got two boys, and I was like, that’s going to be a challenge, because I’m not into football and I can see myself shivering on a touchline when I’d rather be at home watching a rerun of some schmaltzy film while learning to braid my daughter’s hair,” he says. “But that hasn’t happened, and boys are so much fun. They’re keeping me active.”

The whole experience of making the show, he says, has taught him that some things in parenting are universal, but no two parents are the same. “It’s like that thing of: ‘Are dads better than mums at some things?’ Well, yes, but it depends which dad and which mum, just as mums are better than dads at some things, depending on who it is. Everyone is different, but everyone has similar experiences they can share.

“I think I’ve learnt that fathers are slightly more redundant in the first six months because they’re just running around trying to help out, and the mother is understandably in charge and exhausted. You’re just the magician’s assistant – equally exhausted but not quite as connected and up to speed.”

Vincent co-parents his twins, having separated from TV producer Gemma Charles last year. She lives 10 minutes away from him in west London, and they are “in the same bubble” and get on well, so lockdown “probably wasn’t as difficult as it was for other people”, he says.

“But you need an infrastructure of other people that have babies of a similar age, to compare and contrast what’s going on. It’s another thing men are not necessarily good at. They don’t have these big WhatsApp groups with other dads to discuss nappy movements.”

I had imagined, erroneously, that Vincent’s four years as a Blue Peter presenter in the 1990s – starting when he was just 21, fresh from North Wales – might have made him a dab hand with kids. Apparently not.

“It’s a fallacy a lot of people have made, but I like children because I talk to them not down to them… but anything else, their mother is a lot better than me. I still struggle to remember to put my trousers on when I go out. Any arts and crafts, I can’t. Jasper and Felix find it funnier to put the paint on me,” he says. “It’s probably a sign of the times but they’re much happier making a video for a birthday than making a card.”

As somebody who grew up watching Vincent work wonders with sticky-back plastic, I am shocked. It’s like hearing Gary Lineker is rubbish at keepy-uppies. Those are surely skills you don’t lose.

“No, you don’t lose them, but I never had them to begin with. When you do Blue Peter, you would be throwing yourself out of planes or running marathons or whatever, but when I was doing a ‘make’ item, those are probably the most technical things you have to do on the show. I think even BBC newsreaders would struggle to do a six-minute item seamlessly, which looks fun, and with someone at your knees ready to hand you something, and remembering to do things in the right order.”


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