He’s on the move!

It’s so true what they say, the grass is always greener…

For months it seemed the only question* I was being asked was: “Is he crawling yet?”

To which the answer was a firm “No.”

*Technically, this wasn’t the only question I was asked. Additional questions that have been proffered in my direction of late include: “Are you happy with your current broadband provider?”, “Would you like to add a drink for an extra 75p?” and, genuinely, “Can I tell you all about our Lord, Jesus Christ?” For the record, I answered “No” to all of the above. 

Sam’s mum and I spent many hours worrying about his crawling (or lack of it). We did it in that textbook modern parenting not-worrying, worrying way.

“Should we be worried he’s not crawling yet?”

“No. I mean, it’s not a competition.”

“Too true.”

But it is a competition – even if you don’t want it to be. We all silently seethe at the kid (there’s always one) who skipped crawling and is walking already – then again that precocious so-and-so is probably tap dancing, speaking basic French and learning to whip up a convincing bolognese too!

So, you can imagine, we were thrilled when it all clicked and Sam started to crawl in earnest. Boy can he crawl! He’s like the Road Runner is those old cartoons, there really is no stopping him.

Then it sank in. THERE REALLY IS NO STOPPING HIM!

Our joy lasted all of… oh… five seconds as we realized the size of our house has suddenly diminished and we are now sentenced to an interminable period of chasing around after Sam as he launches himself into harm’s way with gleeful abandon.

Wasn’t life so much easier when he wasn’t crawling?

Wasn’t that grass so much greener?

Wasn’t that a lawn far easier to tend?

After a quick Google, it became clear that there was no going back. We couldn’t encourage Sam to be a non-crawler for a bit, to make our lives easier. We were stuck with the situation.

The house, which up to this point had been our oasis, suddenly looked like a giant trap;  filled (Home Alone-style) with dangerous obstacles for our new crawler.

Everywhere I looked were sharp corners, lethal hinges, top-heavy bits of furniture and… and… well you get the idea.

Time and again, I’m drawn back to those David Attenborough documentaries that show how – via nothing more than instinct – the young of other species emerge into the world with a sixth sense for avoiding danger. Mother Nature must really have had a chuckle when, rather than giving human young a street-smart savviness, she decided to turn them into Frank Spencer like klutzes with the ability to find a crisis in any situation.

As a kid, one of my favourite films was Who Framed Roger Rabbit. There’s a scene, at the beginning of the film, shows the hapless Roger trying to look after Baby Herman, who (for comic reasons) dives headfirst into one lethal situation after another. Click here to view. As a child, I thought this was a ridiculous skit created to provoke laughter.  I now realize that I was wrong. The scene is much closer to a public information film, a documentary reenactment of the real life chaos that parents are perennially just moments away from. All it needs is a Michael Burke voice over and the Roger Rabbit sketch could belong in the old TV show 999!

God it’s terrifying. 

Oh and while I remember. How the hell do you change a nappy on a baby that won’t lie still for a more than two seconds? Just when you thought you’ve got the whole nappy thing down, they move the goal posts once again! It’s like trying to change the tyre on a Formula One car as it whizzes by at top speed! I literally don’t have enough limbs to hold Sam still, clean him and apply a new nappy. It’s impossible!!!

As you might already have guessed, my focus has now moved onto fantasizing about new and much greener grass – when Sam can walk.

Things will be so much easier then…

Who am I kidding?

 

Still Sinking…

The Out of Depth Dad

Facebook.com/OutofDepthDad

@Outofdepth_dad

 

 

 

Mission Bloody Impossible!!

Life’s full of little surprises at the moment, like the one I just gave myself when I tried to open the cupboard under the sink.

“Wait a minute, I’ll just get the washing up li… OH SHIT!***”

Like some latter-day Samson (without comparable hair), I’d inadvertently ripped off the baby-proof lock I’d painstakingly spend hours putting on the cupboard door. The air was momentarily blue with my frustration.

***I debated for a while whether I should represent the word ‘shit’ as ‘sh*t’. It seemed, for a moment, like that might be the most genteel thing to do. Then I noticed the ‘Bloody’ in my title and thought sod it.

Back to the cupboard under the sink… I’d just spent the last few days baby proofing the house and, boy, was it an unpleasant task.

With the prospect of Sam getting to grips with crawling firmly on the horizon, the need to protect him from himself is at the forefront of our minds.

“Just buy a few of those magnetic lock things,” said the mate that I consulted over the issue. “They’re easy to fit.”

Easy?

EASY?

Compared to what? Nuclear Fusion? I have never, in my entire existence, found anything trickier to put together – they’re like doing a Rubik’s Cube in the dark.

At first I was all GCSE technical drawing, with my ruler and pencil, marking onto the door the point where the locks should go. I drew my guide lines and attached the lock, clip and closed the door. I then pulled on the handle and door opened freely. As if the lock wasn’t there.

In the next six hours (I’m not joking) I fitted 6 locks. Each started with the pencil and ruler, then they were ditched – I may or may not have taken the ruler snapped it in half and thrown it out of the kitchen window.

The method I found most successful was as follows:

Stick the lock on.

Close the door.

Open the door.

Swear.

Try and rip the lock off.

Fail.

Get a knife and lever the lock off.

Scratch myself with the knife.

Swear again.

Get the the lock off.

Re-stick the lock, a little left from where it was originally.

Close the door.

Open the door.

Swear – louder this time.

Try and pull the lock off.

Lever it off again.

Realize the glue isn’t very sticky on the lock anymore.

Try moving it right this time – almost close the door and squint through the gap.

Stick it down.

Close the door.

Open the door again – nothing.

Swear – very loudly this time.

Kick something.

Throw the lock in the bin.

Have a walk around the garden.

Retrieve the lock from the bin. 

You get the idea.

So when I’d finally got the locks to work – you can imagine how frustrating it was to accidentally pull it off again!

Now the locks are in place, I’m like a forgetful safe-cracker, with my little magnet, trying to remember where exactly the lock is on the other side of the door. It takes forever! Seriously, the makers should forget the whole ‘child safety’ element of the devices and sell them to dieters. You could starve to death as you slide the magnet around, waiting for the lock to click!

GOD! I HATE DIY! 

Still Sinking…

www.facebook.com/OutofDepthDad

@Outofdepth_dad

 

 

The News At One

So Sam just turned one.

ONE!

No, I can’t believe it either. He’s an entire year old. That’s 12 months of nappies, no sleep, naps and nasty niffs.

We made it!

When Sam was born, friends kept saying to me that the first year was the hardest. I reminded them of this during the birthday celebrations, and was told that year three was much tougher.

Thanks guys, talk about moving the goalposts!

Who knows what’s true? All I know is we managed to take our son on a complete rotation around the sun without doing anything monumentally stupid (well not much).

Here’s my highlights of the first year, I’m sorry I don’t remember when any of these things happened (my mind is a sieve) other than they all took place in the last 365 days…

1:

The first smile.

As Sam was a premature baby this arrived a little later than many might expect. But when it came, seriously, it made my millennium. I’ve a theory that nature withholds the nicer moments of a baby’s development until they’re really needed. For Sam’s mum and I, we were exhausted and emotional after months of hard work, pushed to breaking, then like an oasis on the horizon, he flashed us a smile. A proper smile, not wind. I’ll take that moment with me to my grave.

I knew there and then that I’d do anything for that little boy.

2:

Sharing a joke. 

Humour is hugely important to me. I bond with those I love through laughter. Generating peals of giggles is one of the most pleasurable things I think any of us can do. So when Sam and I shared our first joke it was magical. It wasn’t that funny really, what happened. I put a pair of his trousers on my head and he laughed, but to me it was pure unadulterated joy. To hear that laugh for the first time was blissful. Sam can’t talk yet, but we communicated through laughter at a very deep level. In an instant I forgot about the sleepless nights.

3:

Poo up the wall

I know this sounds like a negative rather than a positive – but for me it was a highlight of the year. I was changing a nappy and I mistimed it somehow and… well… an explosive poo splattered all over the nursery wall. It’s the type of thing where you just have to laugh at the absurdity of it all. But why was it a highlight? For some reason, when this happened, I felt like I’d been properly inducted into the guild of parenthood. I’d heard, throughout the pregnancy, all these horror stories of scatological incidents that occur with babies. Now at last I had my own, I was part of the funny anecdote club. I had a great story to embarrass Sam with when he was 30.

I wouldn’t want to have to clean massive amounts of poo off wallpaper, furniture, skirting board and carpet every day – but this one incident was a time I’ll remember for the funny side.

4

A shoulder to cry on…

For most of Sam’s year, his mum was exclusively the person he wanted when upset. That was fine with me, I was eager that Sam’s mum and he bonded, even if that meant I was relegated in the relationship to a fetcher and carrier role. That’s the way (in my mind) it should be, babies go first response is go to their mother for comfort.

In the last few months however, I’ve been allowed by Sam to act as a stand in. Don’t get me wrong, I am very much the substitute teacher of comforting cuddles, but even so, it would seem that daddy has the ability to make it all better.

This is a great, hugely rewarding, responsibility that I cherish.

 

I loved the little party we had for Sam to celebrate his first birthday and (although he had no idea what was going on) he loved all the attention. In fact, I enjoyed the whole birthday thing so much that I’ve decided we should do it all again next year!

Still Sinking…

The Out of Depth Dad

@Outofdepth_dad

www.facebook.com/OutofDepthDad/

 

 

5 Things I Didn’t Expect From Fatherhood…

I’m the first to admit that I was quite naive going into this whole ‘parenting thing’.

I really was.

I genuinely thought my days would be just as they were before, with a few nappy changes and the occasional bottle feed.

How dumb was I?

The answer is pretty dumb – almost Donald Trump levels of stupidity.

Thankfully I’m a quick learner. I can now change nappies with my eyes closed – not to show off, I just find I have to look at much less poo that way. All in all, I genuinely feel like some days I’m getting into the swing of this whole parenting thing. Some days. That said, there are still somethings that I do, on a daily basis, that surprise me. Moments that are a little odd, that nobody warned me about.

Here are my 5 Things I Didn’t Expect From Fatherhood:

1: I pick my son’s nose most days. 

There, I said it.

Babies, all babies, are snotty creatures. Sometimes it feels like producing snot is their actual job. Sam, like so many of his peers, produces bogies at a prodigious rate. I mean, if snot were gold we’d be millionaires.

You know that feeling you get, the slightly awkward one, where you’re talking to someone and they (unknowingly) have a bogie hanging from their nose? You don’t mention it at first, not wanting to be rude, but then you reach a point when you can’t mention it – as it’s been too long. The snot draws you in like a tractor-beam; soon you’re not hearing what they’re saying, instead you’re looking at the unwanted appendage swinging in the breeze. Well that feeling drives me nuts, and Sam’s face seldom isn’t home to (at least) a bogie or two.

With small babies (whose noses are two small to pick) there are these little vacuum pumps that you insert into your young un’s nostril and squeeze – in an attempt to dislodge the accumulated goo.  These devices are about as useful as… as… something not very useful at all. There are other bits of kit that allow you to siphon snot from your kid’s nose by inserting a tube in there and sucking on the other end. I’m sorry, but that was never going to happen.

So you can imagine my glee when Sam’s nose became large enough to pick. God there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write. Anyway, in order to keep him – relatively – snot free a good nose-picking is what I give him. The joys of fatherhood.

2: Work is ‘time off’. 

I do childcare for Sam three working days a week – he’s in nursery for the rest. My days with him are glorious, but tiring.

Oh, so tiring.

Sometimes I feel like I’m spinning plates, running around trying to do ten things simultaneously: play games, wash bottles, find toys, prep lunch – growing ever more exhausted until the plates start dropping.  These days I drop so many (metaphorical) plates the (metaphorical) floor looks like it belongs in a (metaphorical) Greek restaurant.

So my days doing work, which used to be the low-point of my week (although they were the majority of it), now feel like a period of relaxation. All I need to do is sit down and get things done, with nobody to worry about but myself. They feel luxurious.

There’s an old cartoon Click here where we see a sheep dog and Wile E. Coyote spending the day protecting and hunting sheep (respectively) – the gag is that both see this activity merely as ‘work’. Handing over Sam at nursery feels like the moment here where they both punch out of work and calm descends. It’s a great feeling. That said, I do miss the little fella during the day.

3: I’ve become competitive.

I’ve become strangely competitive. Which is strange because (generally) I’m not a competitive person. Or perhaps I see the foolishness in misplaced universal competitiveness. I’m not one of those people who feels the need to compete at everything, from ten pin bowling to getting away first from traffic lights. Why waste energy on things that are: i. Unimportant. ii. Physically or mentally draining. iii. Likely to be done better than you by a host of people? I’ve always limited my competitiveness to one or two key areas where I know I have talent, leaving the rest to those who are easily distracted by shiny things.

I have, however, become very competitive on Sam’s behalf. On our daily activities together I find myself silently comparing Sam to the other babies we encounter – always announcing Sam as the victor. Which baby has a nicer laugh? Sam. Which baby has better hair? Sam. Which baby would be most at home rollerskating in an Evian commercial? Sam.

I’m sure this will only get worse at the years roll by. As long as I don’t turn into one of those screaming dads shouting encouragement (read ‘abuse’) at Saturday football (unlikely considering how much I detest the sport) I think this should be manageable.

4: I smell poo everywhere.

Poo is a big part of my life these days (not my own). Sam’s mum and I talk about little else:

“Did he poo this morning?”

“A little.”

“How little’s little?”

“Cadbury’s Creme Egg sized.”

“OK. What colour?”

“Brown.”

“Dark brown or sandy?”

You get the idea.

I’m constantly sniffing the air to see if a nappy needs changing or (God forbid) a leakage has occurred. They say that Queen think the world smells of fresh paint, which must be awful. Wet paint gives me a headache. For me, I’m sure the entire world smells of poo. Why? i. It does. ii. I’m concerned there is an (as yet unfound) poo stain on my person, from a particularly involved nappy change. iii. I have poo tinnitus.

I’m not sure if ‘poo tinnitus’ is a ‘thing’, but if it’s not it should be!

5: Socks will always be with me…

In Star Wars there’s a line ‘The force will be with you, always…’ Click here. Fatherhood has brought me a similar thing, but with socks. “Socks will be with you, always…” Socks to a just-about-one year old are the best thing in the world. They’re right there at the end of your leg, ready to be pulled off, laughed at, shook about and discarded.

My life seems to be one long succession of putting on and picking up socks. Every item of clothing I own has one of Sam’s socks in its pockets, rescued from the floor. Seriously, his socks are everywhere, in my shoes, in my kit bag, behind the TV… I even went through a phase of using them as impromptu book marks.

The only place I rarely find socks is on Sam’s feet. And if that doesn’t sound like something a dad would say, I don’t know what does!

Still Sinking…

The Out of Depth Dad 

@Outofdepth_dad

facebook.com/OutofDepthDad/

Is Postman Pat on a Zero Hours contract?

We need to talk about Pat Clifton, probably better known as ‘Postman Pat’.

Everybody knows his bright red van, black and white cat and ‘happy man’ persona. But despite Mr Clifton being such a familiar (strangely un-aging) face to so many of us, I’ve got the feeling that there’s a story just below the surface that nobody’s talking about.

For the last 30-odd years Postman Pat has been delivering mail, with the aid of his cat ‘Jess’, to the people of Greendale (and surrounding districts). A genial fellow, Pat has never been what anyone would consider the ‘perfect postman’ – or perhaps we should say ‘post person’?

Pat has the habit of, well, mislaying the very items he’s supposed to be responsible for. A strong and stable pair of hands he is not! This truth was apparent even in the earliest part of his career, when Clifton worked under the direct supervision of postmistress Mrs Goggins. The affable pensioner always seemed to look the other way as Pat, instead of delivering the large quantities of mail he was tasked with,  would spend an entire day chasing a single letter he’d mislaid. Many would say that it’s to her credit that Mrs Goggins saw Clifton’s benefit to the community, as a slightly hopeless helper, outweighed any true ability he had as a deliverer of mail.

Times sadly have changed and I’m now worried about Pat. He no longer works for Mrs Goggins, his role is now under the supervision of the privatized ‘Special Delivery Service’, which I’m convinced has him on a zero hours contract.

It’s a well known story of a new company coming into a previously public sector enterprise and squeezing existing employees. The ‘Special Delivery Service’ seems happy to invest in equipment – they’ve automated conveyor belts that must spend half of their time empty considering the tiny amount of post Greendale receives. They’ve also bought a helicopter, dune buggy, snow mobile and all manner of post vans.

But have they invested in Pat?

I think not.

Clifton is clearly on a zero hour contract, with no hope of career-progressing training.

Why do I think this?

1: Pat is always on duty. No matter what he’s doing, any day of the week, Clifton can receive a phone call from the Special Delivery Service and is expected to get to work straight away. Birthdays, outings and school plays have all been ruined by Pat’s un-defined working routine.  The strain this constant state of uncertainty is having on his wife Sarah and son Julian is clear for all to see.

2: Pat never takes his uniform off, nor has the uniform been updated. It’s my suspicion that he wears it all the time to save money on clothing. Pat deserves better than that!

3: Pat drags out deliveries for much longer than necessary. He seems to literally go all around the houses, getting into bother, rather than just delivering the items he is given. I’m concerned Pat is trying to up his hours (and income) by unnecessarily prolonging his work.

4:Pat’s mobile. It’s an old Nokia, clearly he’s not financially solvent enough to be considered for a smartphone contract.

We can only hope that things improve for Pat in the near future. A career in the postal service, a role that became such a big part of his identity, should have treated him better.

 

P.S.

I’m slightly worried I’ve been watching too much kids’ TV!

Still Sinking…

The Out of Depth Dad

@Outofdepth_dad

www.facebook.com/OutofDepthDad

5 stupid things I am regularly asked…

I don’t want to sound like I’m moaning…

Nobody likes to be considered a moaner, really, do they? But, as a new SAHD dad, I find myself getting asked stupid questions on a far too regular basis. So, to set the record straight, here are 10 stupid things people seem to want to ask, again and again…

1:

Are you getting much sleep?

In my former life, as a live TV producer, I used to tell my presenters that they should never ask a question that they don’t already know the answer to. It’s a useful maxim to work by. Yes, it requires pre-interview research, but it stops your guest saying something unsavoury on air.

In real life, there are some questions that just don’t need to be asked, precisely because the answer is blatantly obvious. Every person who has ever inquired of new parents: “Are you getting much sleep?” already knows the answer they will receive. Nobody, in the history of mankind, has EVER replied: “Yes, yes I am, thanks for asking. In fact, I’d recommend that insomniacs get themselves a baby – they do wonders for the old beauty sleep.”

It’s not really a question at all, is it? It is, in reality, just a chance for a third party to point out, to your face, that you’re clearly not getting much sleep as you look like crap – something every brain-frazzled, zombie-fied parent is all too well aware of!

Please, for the love of all things holy, stop asking this question. Thank you.

2:

Is he a good baby?

How exactly am I supposed to answer this? I mean really? What a stupid thing to ask! What constitutes a ‘good’ or ( heaven forbid) ‘bad’ baby? I think the nub of the question that is being so ham-fistedly approached is probably “Does he cry a lot?” – but since when did crying have anything to do with morality?

I have, on several occasions, been tempted to reply in the following way:

“Sadly no, he’s not a good baby. In fact, we’re pretty convinced that he’s bad, very bad. We don’t have the evidence to prove it yet, but his mum and I think he was pivotal in the Kennedy assassination and disappearance of Shergar.”

If you’re not looking to be greeted with extreme sarcasm, then please don’t ask this question. Once again, thank you.

3:

Who do you think he looks like?

Once again, I understand that people are trying to be nice, but please stop with this question – especially if it’s asked in front of both parents. Newborn babies, I understand, are designed to look more like their father than mother, in order for the father to stick around. It’s one of nature’s little quirks.

Yet, asking a dad to point out that the baby looks a lot more like them, in front of the mum who has probably been up most of the night feeding said child is a little awkward to say the least.

I got around this question by pointing out that if we were honest, Sam looked most like Ian Hislop – which he did. As he’s got older, Sam now (in my view) looks like his mum and I equally – in my view her beauty balances out my ‘quirkier’ features.

Please stop asking this question. Thanks again.

4:

Are you still cycling / going to the gym / yoga / building models of the Forth Rail Bridge out of matchsticks?

Whatever it was I used to do to unwind, it’s highly likely that I’m no longer doing it right now. That’s just a fact of life. I’m a keen cyclist, I find it immeasurably relaxing, but please don’t ask if I’m getting out on my bike much. These days I feel like I’m winning if I get to go to the loo by myself. Being reminded that I have no free time, or being expected to make up an excuse why I’m not ‘making time’ for such an activity is annoying at best.

While I’m on this topic, will people please stop gong on about ‘making time’! I need to ‘make time’ for me, is advice I’ve heard. And how does that work exactly? Do I need a special watch? Should I call Doc Brown? If I could ‘make time’ I’d use it for sleeping, but sadly it seems I’m stuck on the 24 hours in a day model with everyone else. Who knew?

5:

When is number 2 on the way?

Assuming this isn’t a question about my bowel movements (which frankly, are none of your business), the answer is firmly “none your business”. It amazes me that people can ask such a personal question in the smallest of talk. What possible good do questioners imagine will come from harassing parents, knackered from the demands of the child they already have, by prodding them to have another?

I have no idea if Sam will be an only child or not. What I do know is that I won’t be rushing home to Sam’s mum, saying: “Mrs Brown at the Post Office says we better get a move on and have a second one, so we’d better take her advice!”

I’m quite content with my lovely family as it is, thank you very much. So please stop asking. Thanks again.

***

Sorry for a particularly moan-y post. I’m sure next time I’ll be all sweetness and light… mainly because (with a bit of luck) people might have stopped asking me stupid questions!

Still Sinking…

The Out of Depth Dad

www.facebook.com/OutofDepthDad

@Outofdepth_dad