Becoming a dad changes you in many ways. You become softer, for a start, and not just around the waist; things which didn't affect you before suddenly pull at the heart strings.
But fatherhood comes with a few unwritten rules: duties and obligations which you have to perform to truly fit into the category of 'dad'. The first one is obvious, perhaps...
Embarrassing your kids in public
When I was little my dad always used to embarrass me whenever he could, right up until I was a teenager. "You've forgotten your armbands!" he yelled once, as I walked into the local leisure centre on a first date. I cringed so much I'm pretty sure my head retracted into my chest.
Now it's my turn to inflict the embarrassment. My eldest son, for some reason, gets all worked up when I call him a 'hairy Mary', and so naturally I use this to my advantage. "Hey, Isaac!" I holler to him, across a crowded museum room (he's a geek, you see). "You're a hairy Mary!"
The look I get is priceless.
Grilling the boyfriend
Not literally, obviously, unless you're one of those German cannibals (Disclaimer: other nationalities of cannibals do exist). Even though my daughter is only two I can't wait for the day when she brings her boyfriend home for the first time and I can look him up and down, arms folded, before breaking out the age-old "what are your intentions with my daughter" line.
Unless he's bigger than me, of course, in which case I'll probably make a half-hearted threat and hide in my bedroom.
Hoarding embarrassing stories
Whether it's for a father of the bride speech, an 18th birthday, or just any kind of special occasion, sometimes you want to store a few stories in the depths of your mind to be dredged up at the most appropriate (or inappropriate time). It's a dad's job to collect these and hoard them, hunching over them in your brain like Gollum.
Some of my best childhood memories consist of being hoiked up onto my dad's shoulders and carried around the town centre like royalty. Sometimes your child will be hesitant, keeping their legs clamped shut as you try to lift them, and you end up wearing them for a few seconds like a rigid clammy hat; but pretty soon they'll be loving it, and for some reason it's far more comfortable than carrying them in your arms.
Taking them for their first (legal) pint
When I was little I used to be treated to a sip of wine at Christmas. For me, it was something I'd look forward to all year, when I could pretend to be a grown-up for a few seconds. For the rest of my family, it was an opportunity to watch my tiny liver cope with alcohol.
I can't wait for the day when I can take my children for their first legal pint. I don't know what we'll talk about, or whether they'll like it, but I can't wait nonetheless.
I've never been a dancer - I'm far too self-conscious to throw caution to the wind and throw shapes in the middle of a wedding dance floor. But if I did dance, I'd dad-dance: bottom jutted out, feet firmly planted and unmoving, elbows tucked in and clenched fists circling randomly in the air. It's perhaps the most ideal way to, once again, embarrass my children.
How do you embarrass your children (or plan to in the future)?
But no one can beat this dad, who dressed up every day for his son's school bus collection.
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