I once won a poetry award at secondary school. As somebody who liked to ‘fade into the background’ I found this award slightly uncomfortable. It was a big year for me as I also won the English award.

The award was presented at the De La Warr Pavillion in front of a full audience of one thousand people.

Even though it was nice to receive the awards, at the time I wished they were for sport. I remember watching as other boys won awards for football, rugby and cricket and being jealous of the screams they received from joyous relatives.

I did not receive any screams, but that did not matter as I would rather have got my award just in front of my family.

I never felt like a typical ‘boy’ at school. I love all sports but I am utterly useless at most of them.

What is a typical boy though? I had a fixed opinion when I was younger but as I have grown older and more weathered, I do not have anywhere near the same gender expectations.

Joe is most certainly not like the ‘typical’ boy I once aspired to be. Joe is beautifully kind and evokes emotions I can not describe…

Perhaps I should give the poetry award back.

I am proud of the ‘man’ Joe is becoming. Joe is kind, genuine, loving, caring and shows his emotions most of the time.

Years ago I would never have associated those words with being ‘manly’. However now I do and that is thanks to Joe.

Becoming a father has been the most unbelievable experience for me. I would not be half the father I am if I retained my old view of ‘being a man’. I have learnt from Joe that being a man is about so much more than ‘manning up’.

Joe and I visited Great Dixter today. For those of you that do not know, this was the home of Christopher Lloyd OBE, the British gardener. Joe enjoyed all the sensations that visiting Great Dixter offered. Joe showed me flowers, described the intricacies of their colours and loved the smells on offer.

I never felt confident to behave like that around something I perceived to be ‘not manly’ many years ago. Joe simply does not care about the same things I did.

I am happier now I do not feel the need to pretend to be something I am not. Joe has taught me to love what I enjoy and to share those wonderful experiences with those nearest to me.

Thanks Joe.


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