Actor and comedian Chris Dingli has some advice for all you Maltese would-be parents. Having broken most of these rules himself, he’s sharing what he’s learned about modern Maltese parenting in his new comedy show, Bad Dad. Here are his top 5 tips:
1. Name Your Child Something Reasonable
Forget Shazalia and Sherizienne. You’re a parent now. You’re naming a child, not a pantomime dame. Now admittedly, choosing a name is not an easy choice.
Leaving aside the obvious no-nos such as Adolph, Osama and possibly Saddam, as well as the obviously ridiculous names such as footballers’ surnames, naming a child is still a potential minefield. For example, did you know that the names Max, Charlie, Jake and Jack are all in the top ten most popular names for dogs? The same goes for Bella, Sophie and Chloe. Obviously, if you name your child Rover or Fido, you’re asking for them to forever be someone’s bitch (quite literally), but as you can see, things are not always as clear-cut.
What you’re looking for is a name that’s original but not too original, that can maintain a sense of freshness, as well as dignity, throughout the years. After all, what if your little Lulu or Coco one day becomes President? Could it be possible that one day the name Shakira will go out of fashion?
In a desperate bid to retain some originality, some parents decide to go with an original spelling of a more commonly known name. You know the type, Oliver with a Y becomes Olyver. In doing so, these well meaning fools instantly condemn their offspring to a lifetime of needlessly spelling out their name for other people. Well done, mum and dad.
Then there’s alliteration. If your surname is Abela, why would you name your son Abel? Same applies for Colin Coleiro, Adam Adami, Susan Sison… You get the picture.
Finally, if you’re adamant on choosing unusual names, then I suggest you go all the way and name your child something completely over the top. Don’t stop at Ronaldo. I’m talking OTT proportions like Zeus Fassbender Brincat, or Cobra Firebird Giglio. If they’re going to face name calling, it might as well be because they have an awesome name.
2. Sign Up For School NOW
A golden rule that is commonly known is that you must sign your child up for the top Maltese schools the moment they are born. If possible, sign them up before, while they’re still in the womb.
Thinking about it, you might as well sign them up now, even if you’re twelve years old and don’t intend on becoming a parent for the next twenty years. Sign up anyway, otherwise you’ll find yourself left out in the cold, keeping your fingers crossed that your beloved little one will win the lottery and enter some church school. That’s unwise, because if that doesn’t work out, I’m afraid it’s the wastelands of public education for you. That’s a scary prospect, especially when you consider that, shock horror, lessons are in Maltese!
3. Book The Nanniet
Soon-to-be parents, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Nah, I’m going to want to spend every available moment with my little munchkin/monkey/princess”. Allow me to drop this bombshell on you – you’re so seriously, freakin’ mistaken.
Trust me, no matter how cute and irresistible they may seem, there will come a time when you desperately, wholeheartedly and unreservedly want to take a break from them for fear that you might murder someone… not them, obviously. That’s where the nanniet come in. If they’re estranged, now’s the time to make amends. If they live overseas, now’s the time to move to wherever they are. Seriously.
Do you know the saying, ‘If you love them, let them go’? I know that saying doesn’t refer to kids, but it sure lends itself well. Yes, you love your child more than anything blah, blah whatever, and therefore you must let them go…. to the nanniet… as often as possible.
4. Delay The Frozen Factor
There will come a day when your child will discover Frozen. You know, the cartoon. That’s perfectly fine. What’s not fine is the 2,000 hours you will be forced to spend re-watching it, as well as the further 2,000 hours you will spend listening to the soundtrack in the car. Add to that the €2,000 spent on Frozen-themed toys/clothes/imbarazz and, by the time they’re done with Frozen, you’ll be a gibbering wreck. In this scenario you may substitute Frozen with any cartoon that your child takes a fancy to. In the 90s, it was Barney. Today, it’s Frozen. Tomorrow, who knows?
What I’m trying to say is don’t push this kind of stuff onto them. In fact, delay their discovery of these things as long as possible. They’ll still discover them in the end, but maybe, just maybe, you might walk away from the experience only partially unhinged.
5. Embrace the Mess
People with no kids love their homes. They love their artfully placed knick-knacks and their designer coffee tables. Enjoy it while it lasts.
With the pitter-patter of tiny feet comes an avalanche of mess. Oh, you’ll start out assigning a little play area or even devoting an entire room to their toys and playtime. As the saying goes, make plans and your child laughs in your face.
The mess invasion will start slowly – a brick here, a toy there. Before you know it, the mess has spread like a virus out of its carefully designated play area and has now taken hold of the whole house. Ornaments become their playthings. Books get pulled off shelves and ripped apart! Chaos rules supreme as you stand in the middle of the mess, weeping at the sight of your beloved flat screen TV, now covered in child hand prints. Standing on a mountain of discarded toys and other child-related debris, you come to the realisation that you must learn to love the mess, or be consumed by it.
Chris Dingli is a first-time father struggling to adapt to his new role as parent, while trying to shake off his former identity as über man child. Tickets for his one-man comedy Bad Dad can be purchased here.