I wrote a throwaway comment on social media the other day:
“I think any “leader” unable to change a dirty nappy with the child on their knee (not on a mat) should be disbarred from public office and/or senior business roles.
Now, this has bugged me for years. The propensity of middle-aged people (usually but not exclusively men) in positions of authority and influence to appear on the telly and suggest that their inability to keep their own child’s bottom clean is some sort of badge of honour.
There were those who made the counterpoint to my observation by saying that you can be perfectly capable of changing a dirty nappy whilst full of cheap wine and smoking a pack of Capstan Full Strength. This is, of course, true, however high functioning alcoholics with a 40 a day smoking habit rarely become captains of industry…oh…hang on…
Others made the point that we change our children’s nappies partly in the hope that they’ll do it for us when the time comes. The ultimate in playing it forward and I thought that all good business people knew how to do that.
And then there was the whole thing about what a “leader” actually is. A key point was that anyone who writes it as “Leader”, isn’t (we are all looking at you, Donald).
Perhaps, they said, you are only a leader when you look back and see people following you. Could it be (and I don’t want to stretch this metaphor too far) those whom you have cleaned up and covered in zinc ointment are the ones who will actually follow you?
Our youngest was nearly two months premature – placenta praevia. It was touch and go for mother and baby. They were in the hospital for almost two months. I spent a lot of time looking at him (no touching) in neonatal intensive care. His paediatrician said to me that the surfactants that saved his life had only just become available – in 2003 he would have died.
I had a complete and utter breakdown with another dad in the hospital car park. We had to hold each other up for ten minutes.
At home (an hour from the hospital) I had a four-year-old and a six-year-old to look after as well as a business to run. No nanny, no au pair – just the three of us worrying about the other two.
I’ve been rocketed, travelled the world and had a moderately successful business career, but July 2004 was when I grew up. Yeah, I can change a nappy on my knee, and I’m proud of that.