There’s nothing worse than a Braggy Dad. You know the ones. They cue their kids up like performing seals to wow audiences with their latest accomplishment – saying ‘moo’/ ‘baa’/ ‘cheep cheep’ or the like. That’s fine once, sweet even. But spare me rendition three, four and five please. I got stuck with Braggy Dad recently. Could he not see my eyes misting over as he made his toddler wheel out another round of the actions for ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’? Even the kid was wincing.
So imagine my horror when I discovered that Husband N has now turned into Braggy Dad?! Not only did I overhear him lining toddler Eliza up for a strictly-at-home raisin counting trick in front of friends but when she messed up (as is her perfect right at 17 months old) he made her do it again. And again. Eventually she stuffed the raisins in her mouth defiantly as if to say, “Here’s where you can shove your tricks...”
But he wasn’t to be stopped. On another occasion, when asked how many words Eliza can say, he trumpeted, “Oh, too many to count,” before proceeding with what turned out to be a mercifully failed attempt to make her trot out her linguistic skills there and then. I cringed at this display of testosterone-fuelled braggery....
What has happened to my oh-so humble and modest husband? I’ve never heard him brag about anything apart from through the silent medium of gaudy fly-fishing trophies which though thankfully noiseless in their bragging, are nevertheless aesthetically very displeasing. If this is how he is with one child what further transformations can I expect when Number Two comes along?
A quick straw poll of friends with kids produced some interesting results on the Braggy Dad front. Apparently, it’s a common phenomenon and has left mum pals bewildered and red-faced while out in public. This behaviour isn’t strictly limited to men who were braggy before kids either. But it’s those very modest types you notice it most in, because it’s so uncharacteristic – a bit like the Jekyll and Hyde of the baby-bragging world.
Mums of course do this too, only much more subtly. But still, it’s like there’s an unwritten code of conduct between mum friends ‘Thou Shalt Not Brag.’ Perhaps it’s because we meet up more frequently so have the chance to see for ourselves what our kids’ pals are accomplishing – without the need for it to be paraded Fourth-of-July pageant style. We notice it, ask about it and thus give license for our friends to gush forth about it which we of course all want to do, especially amongst good pals.
Maybe I’m being over-British – we, of course are a nation of somewhat painfully humble types and the Scots take things to a whole new level of humility. My personal issue with it may go back to Eliza and that physical milestone-making time (or lack thereof...) As I’ve posted before, I found it unsettling seeing her peers make such progress as I constantly worried if something was wrong with her. Of course, no one was flouting their child’s efforts in front of me (apart from the occasional Braggy Dad of course) it was just plain to see.
But I now know that all mums worry about their kids’ progress – it doesn’t automatically stop when they learn to walk. There’s talking, potty-training, socialising etc...Right now, we’re at the talking stage and Eliza is doing just fine. But as I was with the physical stuff, I’m sure there are mums worried about the talking stuff. Although their hearts are in the right place, Braggy Dads don’t make that any easier.
Oh, I know, I know – I’m sounding like a kill-joy. Braggy Dads have every right to be excited and vocal about their kids’ progress. There’s nothing better than hearing your toddler speak for the first time and listening as their vocabulary grows over time. But let the little ones do the showing off for themselves – it’s endlessly more entertaining.
Husband N is, it seems, the proudest daddy on the planet. He is on the way to creating a raisin-counting machine with Eliza (when she feels like not eating them) and he’s of course played no small part in the creation of another child altogether – our Number Two. He has much to be proud - and braggy - about.
Still, in efforts to nip any further scaling of the Braggery Tree in the bud before it's too late I’ll be having a delicate word with him about that code of conduct. I'll draw particular attention to the clause which states that repeated renditions of animal noises, be they farmyard, woodland or otherwise, should be saved for visits to Granny only, no matter how spectacularly high their calibre.