I conclude that parenting is like being on a swing. There are highs and lows. Yet, it's important (even if you're tempted) to avoid going over the top.
There's part of me that hates giving Piers Morgan the oxygen of publicity. I'm aware that this is what he thrives upon, that being controversial is what he intended to be, and he makes money out of it... BUT, FRANKLY I'VE HAD ENOUGH OF THIS BULLSHIT.
As a parent, I'd worked my way through all the stages that are supposed to be hell on earth: sleepless nights, teething, separation anxiety, having your shoes filled with sick... the whole gamut. And the thing was, that despite all the hype, none of these events was quite as bad as I'd expected. Like the worst type of film - all the best bits were in the trailer, leaving my partner and I feeling slightly underwhelmed to experience the supposed horror of the real thing. It was with this (understandable) sense of over confidence that I greeted the my son's (inevitable) turning from 1 to 2. It was simply a number, I told myself. A personality doesn't change THAT much as the result of just getting a little bit older. What was the worst that could happen? After all, we're just talking about a tiny tot. HOW WRONG WAS I?
In boxing, the fight is grueling, no doubt about it. But even in this most demanding of pursuits, there are little breaks, where the pugilists sit at the side of the ring, have a drink and try to regain their senses. It's only as a result of these intermissions that the fight will ever have the chance of going the distance. For me, it was the same with parenting a little one. For hour upon hour your senses are pummeled as tears, food, poo and puke fly. The parent becomes totally punch drunk, but clings onto their sanity in the knowledge that there's a nap around the corner, the child will be sleeping any time now. This sleep is, I feel, far more restorative to the parent than it's ever been for the child. It's a chance to catch your breath, wipe down the walls and consider a few winks of sleep for yourself.
It had been a few minutes, three maybe. I looked at him, as encouragingly as I could, and spoke. “OK, that’s good. It’s easy, just one, two, three and push.” I’d tried to hide any stress (rapidly growing within me) from my voice. My son looked back at me, seemingly unconvinced. “Cuddle?” “We can have a cuddle when you come down the slide.” “Cuddle now?” “Just go down!” chimed in a boy, about twice the age of my son - part of the growing queue for the slide forming behind my little one. “He’ll go when he’s ready,” I said, once again trying to appear calm - reminding myself that empathy isn’t a skill kids are born with. “Just one, two, three and push!” Still nothing. It was going to be a long day.
It’s the odd thing about milestones, I just don’t see them. What I mean is, I’ve never actually noticed a milestone at the time it happened. Rather I’ve only been able to see the moments that marked real, tangible, progression in my life retrospectively. I think this may be a side effect of being busy. Actually ‘busy’, if I’m honest, doesn’t quite cover it. For the last 2 years I’ve been so manically active, so frantically ‘on task’, that ‘busy’ sounds like a rest. And no, I’m not about to start moaning about how hard parenting is. We’ve all heard that a 1000 times before. Parenting is hard. But that isn’t newsworthy, there is no breaking story there. It’s always been hard. It will always be hard. That’s just the way it is. Sorry folks. I’m keen, however, as my son achieves his second birthday, to look back at my first 24 months of fatherhood. What have I learned? If anything? Am I still out of my depth? It’s likely. Do I continue to make points in lists of 3? Definitely. Here’s Fatherhood: The Story So Far...
This I just don't get. If I present an item to my son, on his favourite plate, there's a 50/50 chance of his eating it. If, however, I get the same item and throw it on the floor... 100% certain he'll pick it up and munch away happily. For some reason, toddlers want to put everything in their mouths. So any walk in the park, trip across town or visit to the supermarket is perpetually punctuated with me saying: "Take that out of your mouth! We don't eat off the floor". Leaves, rocks, bits of twig, squashed chips & a whole assortment of litter have all been whisked from his grubby little mitts just before he attempted to eat them. If I'm honest, there have been several times when I didn't get there quickly enough - so these items have had to be wrestled from between stubbornly closed lips. He, of course, thinks this is hilarious - while all I can think of is a potential night of projectile vomiting should he catch some lurgy or other.
I remember his mother and I would discuss, in those oft-remembered (much missed) quiet relaxed evenings before our son was born, television's role in our household. We'd pretty much decided that our offspring would never be sullied by exposure to the telly. Equally he'd never touch sugar, only eat organic and spend his life with well-thought through educationally relevant play. What mugs we were!
Dads do AMAZING things WITHOUT superpowers It's (relatively) easy to save the day if you can fly or walk up the side of buildings. Superheroes (on the whole) are blessed with some pretty nifty abilities that the average person in the street could only dream of. They've got a bit (read 'a lot') of a head start. The thing is, I've seen dads do amazing things with no superpowers whatsoever. OK, OK, what they do might not be as 'showy' as the antics of Messrs Wayne, Kent and Stark - but they're more impressive.
For our kids, when they are young, we are the entire world. A mindbogglingly important role. It worries me if I think about it too much. In their eyes we, as parents, have almost superhuman abilities. The power to make everything 'OK' is our most potent gift.