Camera Obscura’s Gavin Dunbar on fatherhood

Post Author: Gavin Dunbar

My wife and I had a baby in January. We already had a nine year old in the house, but it’s our new arrival that has caused all sort of chaos to descend around us. We forget what day of the week it is, and what we’re meant to be doing at any given point. It’s all sorts of crazy, and the crazy thing is…. you don’t really care, ’cause it’s amazing as well. Crazy in a good and bad way at the same time. Amazing!

So there is a baby in the house, needing your attention all the time. At first it all seems a bit one way. They cry a fair bit and you make sure they get fed and changed, and sleep. All the biggies. Then suddenly, one day, they smile at you. No warning, just a smile, and it melts your heart. ‘Cause it’s the most fantastic feeling in the world. The wee person that you have created, and are responsible for, has just smiled at you. Visibly happy and content and smiling at you to show you how happy they are and let you know that you are doing something right.

A friend recently said that having kids was the greatest experience you could ever have, because it makes you be the best you can be. You are inspired by the person you are responsible for to do the best for them, and, as a result, you up your own game the best you can. It’s not like you’re setting yourself up for some unattainable goal, or unrealistic expectation of yourself, you just want to do the best you can for your family and this wee person who you’ve helped bring into the world.

So that is where we are at the moment; the junior-est of the Dunbars is happily menacing the household, keeping us awake and bleary eyed, screaming when he’s not happy but not always doing the best job of telling us what the matter is, but we’re also getting to see new things every week. He’s just turned five months, and the look of absolute joy on his face when he saw a balloon for the first time this weekend at his Granny’s birthday was amazing to see. Getting to hold it, and then bounce it off his hands and head was a revelation. As are his feet. He’s got these feet you see? Just noticed them, can’t get enough of them. There is a sky above us as well! Where did that come from? He’s sure it wasn’t there last week, but now he’s totally obsessed with looking up into it, and at these big tree things…

Every new step we get to see is another great new experienceone which every parent gets to enjoy, probably boring other people with who don’t have kids and don’t care, or reminding those that do of those wee moments from the past. Next up is crawling. He’s getting pretty grumpy when he can’t stand up, and you can tell he’s gearing up for a right good charge about. We (and he) are just waiting for him to realise if he combines moving his arms, legs and arse altogether he’ll start moving rather than shuffling on the spot. Then the next bit of the adventure begins, along with the need to start locking the kitchen drawers and hiding everything valuable from floor level.

Camera Obscura’s summer tour begins tomorrow at Le Poisson Rouge.
15 Le Poisson Rouge, New York, NY
16 Music Hall Of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY
18 930 Club, Washington, DC
19 World Café Live, Philadelphia, PA
20 Paradise, Boston, MA
22 Opera House, Toronto, ONT
23 Mr. Smalls, Pittsburgh, PA
24 The Loving Touch, Ferndale, MI
25 Thalia Hall, Chicago, IL
26 First Avenue, Minneapolis, MN

Camera Obscura’s Desired Lines is out now on 4AD.