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Dotun Adebayo on parenting: "It was all worth it"

A FATHER’S DUTY: School fees, parents’ evenings and lots more go into a child’s education, but it’s a crucial parental responsibility

I WENT to my last ever parents’ evening last week. I didn’t even consider it was the final one until I got there and had to go from table to table to have a one-on-one, or rather two-on-one, with my daughter and her various teachers.

Until then, it hadn’t crossed my mind, which is surprising, that this was a milestone, the end of an era as far as my role as a father is concerned.

By the summer, my younger daughter will have passed her A-levels (no pressure, but there’s a reason it’s called “A” level) with the requisite grades and I will no longer be a number, I’ll be a free man. No more school runs, no more netball matches, no more parents’ evenings... no more.

And, particularly, no more teachers regarding you with a withering look of disdain as they tell you that your daughter’s predicted grade is less than the A* that you, your wife, your wife’s mother and your entire family expect her to get.

I don’t want to blow my own horn, but me and the missus have done a grand job on our daughters’ education and yet this teacher made me feel 10 inches tall... ’bout my daughter ain’t predicted to get to Oxford with flying colours. I’d like to see this lickle raas tell me that to my face, instead of staring out of the window on the other side of the room as he spoke to me.

Like it’s the parents’ fault that kids nowadays prefer Stormzy to Shakespeare and would rather read about the Kardashians’ exes than some virgin queen of England in history. I can’t even blow my own saxophone, but now that the schooling is nearly done I should be bogling like Chaka Demus & Pliers to Murder She Wrote.


Not only that, me and the missus should be booking ourselves on one of those Caribbean cruises that is now all the rage with the black middle classes.

I should be eating lobster every morning for breakfast and having caviar for tea at The Savoy with all the available income we shall have with no more school fees to pay. Yes, school fees. I mean, I don’t mean to blow my own trombone, but we are not wealthy people. We simply decided long ago to work every hour God sends for our children.

As you done know already, our children need a little more love in life because of all the challenges they are going to face, whether they like it or not. And there’s not a damn thing you can do to protect them from that beyond educating them. If you are not willing to work 24/7 to give them the education you can’t afford, you have to face the consequences - a price I was unwilling to pay.

It’s not a sacrifice, it has been a pleasure. I have done no more than a father is supposed to. But just when I thought the hard bit was done, my wife tells me that I should cancel all plans for my retirement until my daughters have graduated from university, and for goodness knows how long after that, to ensure that they have achieved their full potential. As she points out, we’ve already invested so much time and energy, not to talk of money, on our daughters’ education that it would be madness not to see the entire parental commitment through.

She’s right, of course, about the time and energy. We had to fight to get them into the right nursery let alone the right school. This is where the journey begins, and unless you do your research, as my wife did, you will not know which nursery returns the largest number of prime ministers in your catchment area.

Be honest, would you prefer your child to go to the kindergarten Prince William sends his son to or to the kindergarten that the coward who shot up all those people at the mosques in New Zealand went to?

When I put it like that, you realise how important it is not to leave your children’s education to fate. Oh, and by the way, you’ll find that there’s a long queue to get into one of those two nurseries. Guess which one?

Talking of that gunman, you’ve got to hand it to the New Zealand authorities and the way they have made him look a complete loser. They must have searched the whole country to nd the biggest and tallest policemen to stand on either side of the shooter for his court appearance.

He was diminished so much that he just looked like a short fat white guy in the middle of two kiwi giants. And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, they blurred out his face on the video footage so that the bloke doesn’t have the privilege to sneer on camera, let alone leer.

And, the greatest indignity of all, they made him wear nothing but a pillowcase. Or was it a rice sack? Even without seeing his face he looked like a complete waste of human space. I beg the authorities in New Zealand to force him to wear that pillowcase at every public appearance.

If for no other reason than to ensure that no other short fat white guys try to big themselves up with a racist terror attack. Talking of blowing their own trumpet, the public humiliation really works.

I mean, you don’t find any other idiots going on a plane with explosives in their backsides any more do you? Not since the underpants bomber, Umar Farouk Abdul-mutallab, blew up his own arse.

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