It’s bizarre to think that doctors make good parents – in fact, the opposite may well be true
I was standing in the check-in queue, sunburned, exhausted and very late for a seven-hour flight from Toronto to London. My wife had, sensibly, returned from the holiday a day earlier. In one arm I held my screaming one-year-old daughter, Lyra. Her folded pram was slung over the other shoulder. I was clutching passports and a nappy bag and surrounding me on the floor were my suitcases and an assortment of carrier bags overflowing with food, nappies, books and toys. Lyra went silent, I felt her abdomen tense, her face turned deep crimson and she forced out a long and resonant fart which sounded far more like it came from me than from her. A little area cleared around me in the airport. For some reason, probably fatigue, I put a finger into the nappy gusset to check that it was just a fart. It wasn’t. Now my finger was coated in baby poo and pretty soon so were our passports, luggage, Lyra and me. She was unfed, unwatered, covered in shit, and we were about to miss our flight.
In truth, I knew I would be this kind of parent, even if other people had higher hopes. There is a widespread idea that being a doctor must give you a leg up in the parenting game. My wife, a journalist, is often told: “It must be nice to have a doctor as a husband.”