Uncompetitive Dad: The Imperfect Parent

24/03/2011 18:24 | Updated 22 May 2015

Uncompetitive DadDid you ever watch The Fast Show? Remember Competitive Dad, the character who always had to win, no matter what, humiliating his poor kids as he trounced them at everything from Monopoly to arm-wrestling?

Well, I'm not saying that's me, but I used to pride myself on being fairly sporty.

That's handy when you're a dad, with a boy, so you can do all the snowboarding/running races/juggling/tree-climbing/penalty shootouts that the role requires.

And then what happened? He only went and got bigger and faster and stronger, the blighter, so I was struggling to keep up, never mind the letting-him-just-about-win business that every parent gets down to a fine art (not too obvious, or they'll catch on; and not letting them win every time, because you don't in life, do you? Just losing convincingly, most of the time, then being 'disappointed'. Tricky).

And then I hurt my back. Badly. Not the common-or-garden back pain I'd been used to for years. This was a Disc Bulge, which fully deserves those capitals because it's Unbelievably Painful.

So I was struggling for weeks, even to do the basics like walking, or getting dressed, let alone something wild and free like running for a bus. Running! You must be joking.

And it's been weird for us, this back business. It freaked Ben out at first, seeing his formerly big, strong dad turned into a shambling wreck. And even as it got better I was still really paranoid about it going again, so couldn't carry heavy shopping, or – god forbid – play fight with him.

I am now, indisputably, Uncompetitive Dad.

And he's making the most of it.

'One more time and I'll give you a good thrashing!' I said this week as he pelted me with paper planes.

'Oh no you won't – you can't,' said Ben, giggling manically and throwing another plane.


Grrrr. Just you WAIT till I'm better!' I growled, ducking another missile.


Ner ner, can't catch me,' he laughed, flinging another plane and scurrying off.

'Just wait,' I mutter darkly to myself, extracting a plane from my ear. 'Just you wait...'

Catch up with previous columns here.

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