Wow, what a question. It’s a real show-stopper that’s prompted me to warm up my vocal cords, shake my jazz hands and come up with a franchise that I’m pretty excited about. I’m talking, of course, about the Father-Hood Awards For Entertaining Children. The FAFECs will be dished out at various times throughout the year and will honour the songs, technology, foodstuffs, parks, restaurants and days out that have got my wife and I through the past 12 months.
One day, I expect these awards to be given out at an elaborate, glamourous and star-studded ceremony that rivals the Oscars. But at present, you’ll just have to make do with me sitting in my underwear and writing the following on my battered old laptop.
The FAFEC for best song for long journeys (countryside) goes to… Old MacDonald Had A Farm
If I’ve discovered one thing during the long car journeys we’ve undertaken over the past 16 months it’s that the internet’s estimated route times do not take burp stops, milk sessions and emergency nappy changes into account. And if I’ve discovered a second thing it’s that, when it comes entertaining a baby, easy to learn songs with a simple tune and an infinite number of verses are the way forward. Add in the visual stimulus of the great outdoors and the educational side effects of being able to tell your child that the pink thing in the field is a pig that goes “oink” and it makes Old MacDonald a quite simply baarilliant car song. Sorry. I tried to get through this without making any animals puns, but ended up getting lost in the mooment.
The FAFEC for best song for long journeys (town or city) goes to… The Wheels On The Bus
This category wasn’t even a contest. Mainly because any time my child sees a single or double decker, he screams “bussssssssssssss” and starts rolling his hands around each other. The good news is this is as cute as it sounds and can eat up a lot of travel time (current record 16 mins and 23 seconds). The bad news is he always gets overexcited and hits me in the face when the wipers go swish swish swish.
The FAFEC for best song for keeping your baby in the high chair goes to… Wind The Bobbin Up
I don’t know what a bobbin is or why it has to be wound up and then immediately wound back again. But I do know that thanks to this song my son knows how to point to the ceiling, floor, window and door. Granted, these are not essential life skills, but they do distract him for a grand total of 4.6 seconds. And, as experienced feeders will know, this is just enough time to shove two spoonfuls of mush into his gob.
The FAFEC for best song in a foreign language goes to… Frere Jacques
Is this the only nursery rhyme that I can sing in a foreign language? Yes. Does this make this category a bit of a farce? Possibly, but this is a great song. And it does sit third on my smash glass emergency ‘Put Bubby To Sleep’ playlist.
The FAFEC for best song for the pre-bed hysteria period goes to… The Hokey Cokey
A child with loads of energy? Check. And a ridiculously short straw? Check. And only 60 minutes to bedtime? Check. Congratulations, you have just entered the toughest hour of the parenting day. It’s not for the faint-hearted, it will contain tears, biting, foot stamping and attempted eye gouging, but it can be survived if you… stay up high and keep your bubby on the move. In our house this tends to involve climbing stairs, ‘chasing’ games and multiple renditions of The Hokey Cokey. And while I’d be lying if I said my son had nailed all the actions (he continually shakes his right hand when we’re singing about his left one and his left one when we’re singing about his right one), he does a mean Hokey Cokey and turn around and the way he puts his whole self in deserves a standing ovation.
The FAFEC for best song for hangovers, early mornings and nappy changes goes to… Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
I’m all for my son expressing himself through movement and noise, but I also know that there will be times when these will either put him in danger or give me a splitting headache. On these occasions I turn to over the counter medicines. Ha, got you. I actually take a deep breath, look up to the sky, don an inquisitive expression and turn the volume down with a dose of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.
The FAFEC for best song for the swimming pool goes to… The Grand Old Duke Of York
This is the perfect song for teaching your child to love the water, because every line is seven syllables and every baby swimming stroke should last exactly seven syllables. I’ve completely made that up. It’s actually perfect because when “they are up”, you dangle your little one in the air. And when “they are down”, you give them a face full of pool. It’s a tough school, but, weirdly, they really enjoy it.
The FAFEC for best song for walks in the pram goes to… Zoom Zoom Zoom, We’re Going To The Moon
If my son thrusts his arms into the air when I scream “lift off”, then he is awake. If he doesn’t, then he is asleep. Simples.
The FAFEC for best song for the bath or shower goes to… Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
This is our go-to shower song for a number of reasons. First, we can get to his legs when he’s touching his head and vice versa. Second, it teaches him the names of various body parts. Third, if we put soap on his hands and start singing he ends up washing himself.
The FAFEC for best song for showing off to the grandparents goes to... Dingle Dangle Scarecrow
If these awards had taken place six months ago, then Three Little Monkeys would have swept the board in this category. But while my son’s dramatic interpretation of falling off the bed, suffering a head injury, making a phone call and giving a telling off remains an impressive party trick, it has been usurped by the mock sleeping and frantic hand shaking of Dingle Dangle Scarecrow. And no the fact that I taught him this dance has nothing to do with this decision. Okay, so maybe it does. But if you think this is dodgy you really need to read the next entry.
The FAFEC for best new song goes to… Cheeky Nando’s by Father-Hood
FIX! Damn right it is. But what’s the point in going to all the effort of coming up with an awards ceremony if you can’t manufacture a category that enables you to give yourself the final gong? Plus, this Father-Hood original got a like from the official Nando’s Twitter feed, and loads of other people have told me it’s really good. Which it is.