Thursday 2 February 2012, 14:25
As part of our 'Dad Week' we caught up with the original Big Daddy of CBeebies - Sid, and persuaded him to answer a few questions for us...
Hi Sid! How's 2012 treating you so far?
Fantastically well thanks - It started off with the last few performances of Sleeping Beauty, the panto I was in over Christmas in Sheffield. it was a briliant show to be a part of - spectacular, colourful and very very funny. Also shock of all shocks, for a senior member of the on-screen talent I played five-a-side football recently with Alex, Andy and other mainly CBBC erstwhiles; it was like being 12 again! We're hoping it might become a regular thing.
What does the new year hold for you? Any big plans?
I always believe in thinking big! I really want to swim in the Great North Swim this year so I have aligned myself to a local charity in my home City of Brighton. I'm a latecomer to swimming and currently I can swim about 50m in an indoor pool, so not quite David Walliams yet! The challenge for me will be to overcome the boredom, fear and my very heavy bones and legs to get me through 2 miles of open water. I've got a few land based fitness targets to reach before properly cracking on with swimming though my reckoning is to swim and keep swimming until I get far enough (profound). I have a very healthy disciplined diet: no sugar, no flour and three healthy meals per day so I'm hoping that will play a great part in keeping me focused on a healthy attitude. I am also quite partial to a bit of Bikram yoga which helps with flexibility so we'll see. The challenge for me will be BIG but I reckon technique and motivation will boost my efforts tremendously.
So CBeebies has a new home in Salford, how is the new CBeebies House?
The new CBeebies home is so cool I arrive for work in my ski wear! I have seen all of the house, personnel and programme changes at CBeebies since our launch 10 years ago and I believe we are going through the best yet.
So you're a Dad! Is your son a CBeebies fan?
My son just turned 14 so he's a bit past CBeebies, but I remember the first day we sat down together to watch me on TV and he didn't really know I was coming on so when I appeared on the telly whilst sat next to him on the sofa he looked at me then looked at the telly and said "I've got two Daddys"! I knew he was growing up when one day I found him laughing uncontrollably at an episode of the tweenies. Then another day he came home and said I don't watch CBeebies any more. It was quite funny recently when I turned up to a rugby match to watch him play and some of his school friends asked me for my autograph - I actually thought they were winding me up. They were 13yr olds!
Can you cast your mind back to when you were a new Dad? What did it feel like?
Well it was my son's birthday recently which refreshed the memorable experience of the day he was born. I was there when he entered the world and was plonked in my hands, blood dripping on my favourite shoes, Classic FM on the radio, my half eaten sandwiches in their box, his Mum emptying the cannister of gas and air and this scrunched-up pug face unfolding in slow motion before my very eyes. 8lb 11oz at 08.12am. Then the first hell-ish two weeks which left me asking my parents WHY, why didn't you tell us it was going to be like this?? I would try and help by giving his feed in the very early morning/late night and developed a routine and a bond which I think is with us today. Sadly as a result of different parenting skills, not addressing our differences, the financial strain and other personal challenges, his Mum and I separated when he was only 3 and a half. Thus began a whole new chapter for us. I feel lucky we had a lot of time together during those early formative years, and I was determined to be a present father.
Do you think there are different parenting challenges that are specific to Dads?
All challenges are subject to individuals of course but I think learning to communicate and be an effective parent were always my specific concern. Not being present might be difficult for some, natural for others. Some of my own beliefs were challenged and it was difficult to reconcile wanting to do what I thought was best for my son e.g. not wanting him to be given sweets by others or bought too many gifts at christmas, easter and birthdays for want of not spoiling him, and the resulting feeling when everyone seemed to not be taking me seriously.
How would you describe your 'Dad Style'?
Organic - pay as you go! I'm a pretty fun Dad with traditional moral beliefs. I try to teach things like fairness, respect, commitment, manners and self-sufficiency on an as and when basis really. I can be a little tough - if he falls over I'd prefer he got up by himself and learn from how and why. He also gets a lot of unconditional love and support, he is after all the best child in the whole world!
Where did you go if you ever felt like you needed support or advice?
Family at first, friends and family as I got used to things and trusted a wider network of people with experience.
Did you use anyone for inspiration when developing your'Dad Style'?
Not particularly, but I enjoyed growing up. My mum raised us single-handedly, she was fun and I totally believe in the potential of children so it was easy to get into my stride as a father to my own child. I remember being the one at parties who ended up playing chase with the children; I really don't know what I did to attract their attention but it was like I had a sign which said 'He'll do it'.
Do you feel that the experience of parenting as a Dad has changed since your son was small? If you were a first-time Dad now do you think you would turn to any of the many Dad's online forums or blogs that exist?
I hope it has changed because there are a lot of split families, Dads living as single parents and stay-at-home Dads, there are always thousands of people in the same situation and it would be such a positive thing be able to pool information and resources. The times I have looked online for advice, I found it was a massive relief to know I was not alone. I think it encourages men to be more open about things they are finding difficult and get in touch with their feelings as well as get practical help and advice.
What kind of things did you love doing together when he was small?
I have done so much with my son that it is impossible for him not to conceive that I love him. I used to throw him up in the air and catch him, roll around on the grass and pick him up to bounce up and down telling him he is the greatest, cleverest baby in the whole wide world - which I still do now, though at 14 he is getting quite heavy! The best times for me are when I see him light up and get the meaning of something. When he was a child we had some really special times planting and growing seeds then using the salad and vegetables we grew to prepare our food together.Likewise teaching him to splash around in the water and kick a ball about. These times gave us the opportunity to get to know each other, learn how to communicate (although you wouldn't think so now - such a teenager!) and mostly, it has taught me that the more he is involved in and enjoys the process of these tasks, the more he takes ownership and believes in the end product, and the less I have to try and convince him that it is okay to eat healthily or try a new sport etc..
If you could pass on one piece of Dad wisdom from an old hand what would it be?
There are three things in life you cannot bring back: the spoken word, the sped arrow and the neglected opportunity.
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