herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Daddy Daycare just infantile

ALL men are not, despite the old feminist slogan, bastards, but half of them are bloody lousy fathers who don't do their share of child-raising duties.

At least that's what statistics from a survey of British mothers say. Ask these clueless clowns to read the kids a story or, God forbid, change a nappy and they'll whinge about how tired they are, say they're too busy or, if neither of those works, just leg it to the pub.

This was the message of the preposterous and frankly insulting Daddy Daycare, which took three men whose fathering skills leave something to be desired and put them to work in a nursery for a week.

But wait a minute: if half of fathers are useless at raising kids then that must mean the other half are pretty good at it, so where's the story?

Never mind that.

Daddy Daycare had an agenda to push and a format to fit, and it was damned if it was letting anything, least of all common sense, stand in its way.

Our three guinea pigs were Garry, a hyperactive, workaholic optician who doesn't spend enough quality time with his kids; Stefan, an ex-military man who plans to get married but is scared he won't be a good father; and Jay, an accidental father who was so horrified when his girlfriend became pregnant, he immediately booked a vasectomy.

The results of the men's efforts, presided over by a posse of sneering nursery workers who all happened to be single mothers (could this possibly mean they had a personal axe to grind?), proceeded along predictable lines.

More or less.

Garry's big, colourful glasses and bright shirts make him look a bit like a children's TV presenter, but his attempts to read a story to a roomful of noisy four-year-olds will never win him a job on CBeebies.

"Hands up everyone who's ready for a story." No response. "SERIOUSLY, people!"

Jay was charged with getting 12 toddlers to lie down for their morning nap and was overwhelmed.

"I actually want to put them in microwaves," he said, jokingly. I think.

Stefan, the only one with no experience whatsoever of dealing with children, was put on nappy-changing duties and approached the task with good humour.

"Hi, I'm Stefan and I'll be changing you today," he pattered away to an infant. "I'm dreadfully sorry, I've completely forgotten your name. I do apologise."

Stefan was funny and likeable and, as it happened, surprisingly good at changing nappies. "It's not all that different from rifle drill, except rifles don't move around so much," he said.

But the nursery's manager, Bianca, was unwilling to concede anything.

"The only reason he's done so well is because of the routine," she carped. Ah, so when a man who's supposed to be useless with kids turns out to be pretty good with kids, he's still useless, is that the way it works?

Seems like it.

There was a nasty, mean-spirited tone of man-bashing running through Daddy Daycare, as well as a streak of dishonesty.

Two-thirds of the way into the programme, Garry revealed he'd been diagnosed with MS some time ago.

He spends far more time than he should working because he's worried that the day will soon come when he's no longer physically capable of providing for his family.

We also learned that Stefan's father, who he idolised, walked out on the family when Stefan was a boy.

That would explain his fears about measuring up as a parent himself.

The revelations cast Garry and Stefan (if not Jay) in a different, less simplistic light.

But the programme wasn't interested in complexity, not when there was the usual journey-to-redemption format to be stuck to, wherein the chastened men emerge having learned a valuable lesson.

Would Channel 4 dare broadcast a programme in which three women with no experience of car mechanics were put to work in a garage just so a gang of qualified male grease-monkeys could stand around poking fun at them?



daddy daycare HHIII

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