Shepparton News

Challengin­g year to be a dad


- By Max Stainkamph

For fathers across the Goulburn Valley and Victoria, fatherhood has taken on a whole new challenge in 2021.

After a year stuck inside in 2020, this was supposed to be the year lockdowns lifted, schools would be back, sport could resume and life returned to normal.

It wasn’t.

For parents, explaining to their children the restrictio­ns Victoria was under last year — something we all thought would be a ‘one-off’ — would be repeated again this year was difficult.

Shepparton father Duane Hueston said it had been a challengin­g year to be a dad to his three sports-mad boys, Archer, 12, Chace, 9, and Tommy, 7.

However, there had been rewards tucked in among the frustratio­n and confusion, bringing his family closer together.

The family has been stuck in isolation for the past two weeks like thousands of other families across Shepparton.

‘‘It’s been hard for us being a very active and sporty family,’’ Duane said.

‘‘They find it hard to understand why AFL players can play and they can’t, and they see friends and family interstate and ask ‘why can’t we move there?’ ’’

Duane coached Shepparton East Football Club’s seniors for most this year and is president of Tigers basketball, both sports his boys play.

In lockdown, then isolation, they’ve kicked the footy in the backyard, but it’s not the same.

‘‘We’re trying to point out the things they do have rather than what they don’t,’’ Duane said.

‘‘They’ll say ‘we’ve missed this’ or ‘we’ve missed that’, but we try and utilise time to have fun in the backyard.

‘‘We have a backyard and a lot of other kids don’t, we’re trying to teach that empathy.’’

It worked, especially for Archer, but rolling into a second year of lockdowns meant all three boys were ‘‘a bit frustrated, angry and bored’’.

Fatherhood — and parenting generally — has been more difficult this year, which was made even harder when the family was put into 14 days of isolation.

‘‘There’s a shift in energy levels, they can’t be bothered sometimes. Every day is a new challenge,’’ Duane said.

Duane found himself ‘‘walking around in circles’’ trying to help all three boys with school work

before landing on a schedule to sit down with each of them in between his own work as a physical education teacher.

However, with organisati­onal commitment­s at sporting clubs, and teaching of his own to do once the boys had gone to bed, he said it challenged his parenting style.

‘‘Looking back I seemed to go off at too much, getting cross or angry when they’re doing

something that in hindsight was quite cute,’’ he said.

‘‘You also realise how much time you spend on your phone. You take them to the park and spend the time on your phone instead of watching them.

‘‘(Now) we’ve been doing different things, family movie nights and introducin­g them to different old movies — things like The Goonies, Space Jam and Remember The Titans.’’

This Father’s Day — barring any curveballs during yesterday’s day 13 tests — will be the Huestons’ second day out of isolation.

Unsurprisi­ngly, Duane said the plan was to spend as much of the day outside as they could — bike riding to the parks nearby their home.

He just hoped, like all of us, this Father’s Day would be the last one under lockdown.

 ?? Picture: Megan Fisher ?? Bonding time: While isolation has been frustratin­g, it has brought Duane Hueston closer to his sons Tommy, 7, Chace, 9, and Archer, 12.
Picture: Megan Fisher Bonding time: While isolation has been frustratin­g, it has brought Duane Hueston closer to his sons Tommy, 7, Chace, 9, and Archer, 12.

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